Yoga with Basic Cantonese for Expats

Article written by Jane Barnes expat living in Hong Kong

Yoga Canto is a innovative approach to learning Cantonese in Hong Kong & quite probably the only 2 in 1 Yoga & Cantonese class in the world. The atmosphere in the class is literally laid back! People are here to have fun, learn a little & stretch.  Yoga BamBam is a Yoga studio hidden in plain sight on the historical Pound Lane steps.  I had never been in this cute part of Sheung Wan before, it has a really trendy feel to it.

Another student arrives just before we start & smiles at the Yoga teacher.  There’s not too much sound really besides from a few birds chirping outside.  This doesn’t really feel like the  hectic Hong Kong that I’d become accustomed to since I moved here a few months ago.  I had attempted to learn Canto when I first moved to Hong Kong but had given up after a few language classes. My story is similar to most expats here in Hong Kong,  it’s not really essential to speak Canto if you live like I do near Central. Everybody speaks English in my circle of friend well at least that’s my excuse for only being able to speak 3 or 4 words of Canto after a few months living in Hong Kong!

The atmosphere at Yoga BamBam was a far cry away from those stuffy academic classes that I’d endured when I first arrived in the city.  Here in the Yoga studio there are no chairs, no paper, nor text books just a handful of expats sat on Yoga mats. We all watched the teacher slowly write a few words on the smoked glass mirrors of the studio. The teacher copied the English &  then the Cantonese words from her i-phone on to the designer mirrors. As I bent my neck out of shape to try & understand what she was writing she wrote the word RELAX & then the same word phonetically in Cantonese.  The teacher smiled directly at me & said ‘Relax’ in Canto & asked us all to move into Downward Facing Dog.

The session was simple & repetitive enough for me to feel at ease. To my surprise I found myself actually understanding some words as I followed the teacher through the Sun Salutation in Cantonese & in English. I felt refreshed after the class almost chirpy. Positive that I’d be speaking a few Canto phrases if i stuck at  these expat Yoga classes & dropped in now & then.

I hummed the word for Mountain & Sun all the way back to my office desk in the mid levels.  Slightly glowing from the Yoga session but also glowing more from being proud of myself for making an effort to do something different during my lunch break. The best part of it all was that I had also managed to do some Yoga which was a miracle considering that I had been promising myself I’d take better care of myself ever since I moved to this crazy city.

Matina Cheung is the Yoga Canto teacher at Yoga BamBam. The Yoga Canto class is described as ‘A refreshing way to connect with the body during the lunch break and recharge after work’.

Yoga BamBam 28 Pound Lane . Sheung Wan – no telephone number –

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