Yoga 365: How You Speak Matters

Living in New York—or in any urban center—part of the sonic backdrop of daily life is sirens, music, construction sounds, and yelling.

It is a loud city and we sometimes have to fight to be heard. We also multitask, and message each other in txtspeak ("ur" for "you are" or "2nite" for "tonight") a verbal shorthand that gets a point across quickly, efficiently, and sometimes creatively. None of this is exclusive to big cities, but since it is so public here, the shortening and sharpening of communication is an inevitable part of our daily experience.

So what do we do with language and sound once we have a quieter moment and the time to listen to ourselves? And how might we interact with both of these things differently in order to shift the experience we are having? 

Mind Your Matrika 

Matrika refers to the Sanskrit alphabet, and means the power of words, letters, and sound. The word Matrika is translated as the “little mothers” because sound is so powerful that the entire universe is considered to have been generated from it. Sound gave birth to the universe, creating everything we perceive through our senses. Sound and words are energy. How do you wish to make use of them?

I regularly teach that the quality of your movement helps to shape your experience of yourself. Think about it: Sharp abrupt movements have a particular effect on your nervous system, just as smooth easeful movements do. There is a reason why we have an ever-expanding range of yoga asana forms, from Power Yoga to Restorative. There is a reason and purpose to all of these approaches to movement and how they can affect your body and mind. 

Similarly, you have infinite ways of using sound and language at your command. In your verbal communication, sounds can make words and words strung together can signify meaning. 

How do you use sound, words, and language on a daily basis? What does the tone of your voice convey? When does your language serve your purpose and when does it not? 

Speak With Intentionality

Direct your attention to the power of your speech today. Notice if it conveys your intended message. Try choosing your words with precision and your tone with intention. You might wish for more forcefulness or receptivity in your communication. You might wish to soften or strengthen your tone. Words can regulate and limit just as they can empower and uplift. Sound and language create agitation and ease, pain and sweetness. 

If, as the concept of Matrika indicates, we are born from the resonance of sound, it is up to us to decide how deeply we wish to participate in its generative energy. We shape our days through language. We create through our words. This is the yoga of language. This is Matrika.

So how do you want your words to resonate within your own body and mind today? Pause. Think. And now speak.

For more tips on how to live your yoga 365 days a year, check out Susanna's new book from Chronicle Books, Yoga 365: Daily Wisdom for Life, On and Off the Mat. Buy your copy today, or grab it with this special discount only from Chronicle Books!

Photo courtesy of Roxxe Photography NYC


Tagged under: intention, self talk
Shr 1 bridge headshot with arms

Teaching since 2002, Susanna inspires through her passion for Hindu myth and yoga philosophy, particularly the tantric tradition of Rajanaka Yoga. Susanna believes that your body is your temple, and whether you are in India, in a hotel room, or in your home, you can celebrate your embodied life by stepping onto your mat and moving with your br...READ MORE