I was fortunate to find a yoga teacher in the neighborhood where I live. She gives lessons out of an apartment just a five-minute walk from where I live – talk about convenient. Most of her students are older women, so the lessons aren’t that intense, but she does try and challenge us. Mostly it’s nice to sit and just focus for 90 minutes and also to meet some people in the neighborhood.
Like most instructors she does some of the pseudo-spiritual talk associated with yoga – prana, chakras, etc. Personally, I do believe in the power of the breath and breath control, but mostly as method of physical and mental fitness.
The best part of the lesson is corpse pose at the end. Just that total sense of relaxation, letting the body go into complete rest and having the brain focus on the breath. The teacher guides us into a nice meditative state by telling us to focus on different parts of the body starting with the toes and moving up the leg, the abdominal area, the chest and then the hands and arms. For some reason it’s super relaxing to lie completely still and move your concentration from body part to body part.
It’s also a useful vocabulary building exercise. I learned all the names for fingers and toes, so I thought I’d share them here:
親指（おやゆび） thumb/big toe
人差し指（ひとさしゆび） index finger
中指（なかゆび） middle finger
薬指（くすりゆび） ring finger
小指（こゆび） pinky finger/little toe
Unlike English, those names are exactly the same for both fingers and toes, so there’s no difference between “big toe” and “thumb,” basically. Do the other toes even have names in English?
The most interestingly named finger is 薬指 – medicine finger. Wikipedia says this is because long ago, when medicines were all powdered, people used the ring finger to mix and apply different medicines. Apparently it also gets called 紅差し指 (because it is used to apply makeup?), 無名指 (finger with no name), 薬師指 (I guess the whole ‘mixing finger’ thing was institutionalized), and お姉さん指 (because girls don’t have wedding bands yet?).