“Now we’ll prepare for Surya Namaskara. . . Sun Salutations. . .Buon Giorno Sole,” says my yoga teacher Tina. While most yoga students would recognize the Sanskrit and English terms for this classic series of warming-up poses, this Italian nickname “Good Day, Sun” would surely elicit puzzled expressions. Tina, who could easily qualify for title of “the sweetest woman in the world,” is humoring me with the “Buon Giorno Sole” and we smile at the reference. She’s heard my story about Italy and yoga.
As with so many good things in my life, I have Italy to thank for yoga. I had been curious about it for many years but was always just a bit too busy to go to the effort to learn more.
Then, several years ago on a research trip to Italy, I stayed for a few weeks in Rome with Anna, a delightful mother of three who was, of all things, a yoga teacher. She spent hours in the bedroom working on her lesson plans and traveled up to Florence once a week to study for her certification.
I was intrigued. It seemed so exotic to me that Italians could be into yoga. From my unenlightened perspective, the two seemed worlds apart-Italy the epitome of sensuality and yoga the height of asceticism. But as my visit ran its course, yoga people kept presenting themselves quite unannounced. Iris, a charming and knowledgeable arts and culinary guide, mentioned how restorative her Iyengar practice was. And Jo, an author and cooking teacher, shared that she and her husband of many years practiced yoga with a teacher who came several times a week to their grand old apartment in the heart of Rome.
Wow. Good things do come in threes. Meeting this trio of beautiful, talented, vibrant women was my invitation to enter this ancient practice of unifying body and mind, the sensual and the ascetic. These days, practicing yoga helps me to be calm and centered, living fully in the moment, savoring all that comes my way. Come to think of it, that’s a very Italian way to live.
What activities help you stay in touch with your Inner Italian? Leave a Comment and share.
I must say, my “inner Italian” and I aren’t quite as acquainted as we used to be, thanks to the stressful demands of corporate America and far less quality free time than I’d like. But we meet up occasionally — and it usually is when I decide to do something as simple as treating myself to a lovely, leisurely meal at a family-owned (or family-FEELING) restaurant where I don’t feel rushed by the waitstaff to “turn” the table. Or perhaps it’s when I choose to ignore all the “should-do” things on my list and grab a book and stretch out on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon with a glass of wine. Perhaps it should be my new mantra to do at least ONE “inner Italian” thing each day… until it becomes a graceful habit!