Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?

The other day, I glanced at a billboard for Vancouver’s new “Residential Food Scraps Collection” service. Now, our yard trimmings bin can also include raw food scraps for citywide composting. The billboard listed a few examples, such as uncooked fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, tea bags, and coffee grounds?

Coffee grounds? Shouldn’t that be coffee grinds?

I wondered if this is another Canada-versus-America difference. Here, a parking lot is called a “parkade,” a garbage disposal is called a “garburator,” and the electric utility is called “hydro,” such as BC Hydro in British Columbia. My favorite is the Canadian “eh?” akin to the American “huh?” (as in “Vancouver’s a great dog-walking town, eh?”)

Perhaps because I’m a writer and editor, I notice words. Grammatical errors, typos, and oddities jump out at me more than the differences in decor of a house for sale in Mission BC Vs Texas. During President Obama’s campaign, I couldn’t help but notice during one interview that he erroneously said “Michelle and I,” instead of “Michelle and me.” (That didn’t preclude me from voting for him, of course.)

Yoga teachers view of the world

As a yoga student, I began to notice others’ (and my own, of course) body quirks. I’d see a slouchy high schooler and think, “Wow, that girl really needs to lie over a bolster.” Or I’d study a person with seemingly 180° turnout and collapsed arches. Or I’d wonder if asana could’ve prevented a senior’s debilitating hunchback. You get the picture.

This tendency is perhaps more compelling now that I teach. Perhaps it’s simply my frame of reference. Perhaps dentists notice people’s teeth, opticians notice eyeglasses, and hipster cyclists notice your bike’s make/model/cool factor.

Yoga is about more than body, of course. But while body and asana performance are obvious, other yogic qualities are subtle. Can you tell at a glance if someone upholds the yamas and niyamas, if they are just as good-natured when no one’s watching? No. Teachers might quickly pinpoint the body habits of students (or strangers walking the street), but rarely should such judgments be made about character.

What nitty-gritty details catch your eye (or ear)?



  1. today i went to a pilates class. first time. afterwards, the very, very knowledgeable teacher came up to me and said, “so, what did the yoga lady think of pilates?”

    she knew just by how i went through the hour pilates class, never having been to pilates before, that i practiced yoga. when i asked how, she said, it was how i moved between postures.

    neat, huh?


  2. hah. well- I would have to say that definitely not all of Canada calls electricity the ‘hydro’ bill. In fact, only encountered that when I was living in BC… not in NB, Qc or NS… 🙂

    Also, a garburator??? lol. I think you’re coming up against American vs British Colombianisms. 😉

    BUT- I do agree, the Canadian eh is pretty pervasive.

    I notice grammatical errors in speech and articulation-phonological errors, breathing patterns, intonational patterns, social pragmatic uses of communication….

    haha- can you tell i’m a speech-pathologist?


    1. EcoYogini: Thanks for the further insight into Canadian lingo. Certainly Americans from New York versus Texas versus Hawaii (and within states, within cities, within neighborhoods) so distinctions should be expected across Canada, too! I had to laugh about the limited use of “garburator”!

      Speech pathology sounds like a fascinating field. I recall a college professor once stating that we are “how we speak.” Ie, more than age, race/ethnicity, gender, etc, we are judged by our speech, from accent to vocabulary. In other words, to make an impression, oral speech is the key.

      Emma: Interesting, indeed! I wonder if you can recall which entries/exits tipped her off–or if it was your general posture. Thoughts on Pilates? The mat exercises are detailed and subtle, don’t you think? The core work complements asana practice, I think.


  3. I ALWAYS notice someone’s posture. it’s a curse!

    also whether they lead with their chin when they walk — ouch!


    1. Posture is the key to looking and feeling good, don’t you think? We’ve probably all noticed how a beautiful face means little if connected to appalling posture. Yes, the way we stand, the way we move, makes a difference. On leading with the chin: If you instruct to move the head back, people often bend their necks back, exacerbating the problem! Yes, that is a toughie that jutting neck comes from a hunched upper spine (among the more-intractable trouble spots) and a collapsed chest. Ouch indeed.


  4. On strangers, posture, posture and posture. Over-arched lower backs, hunched upper backs, shoulders up near their ears. It just makes me want to ‘adjust’ or teach yoga to each and every one of them! With close friends I sometimes ‘adjust’ with a little stroke on the shoulders in the middle of a conversation! Another yoga teacher friend of mine does it on me all the time (I round my shoulders forward slightly) and it’s a great reminder.

    In class, I scan the room during the preliminary seated meditation noticing things I may need to know about the students for the practice such as posture, tight hips, uneven shoulders, stress etc. By the time we have completed our first few sun salutations I have a pretty good idea of where each practicioner is at. It’s funny because today I was noticing a woman with extremely tight hips and it occurred to me that I may never even have noticed that a few years ago.

    And in yoga, you can always tell who are the dancers, and runners / cyclists! Not sure about pilates (which I’m dying to try).


  5. The language thing bothers me too. And I’m just a random blogger with typos everywhere. I also notice how people move, how they hold themselves, how their legs track. It fascinates me. A friend of mine is an artist and we regularly have conversations about muscles and what they do and how they develop. His viewpoint is different to mine, but he is still eyeing people up when he’s sitting at a cafe, watching their bodies. So good to know I am not alone!


    1. Really? (Incredulous expression.) And you’re like me, American. Maybe it’s regional, as I’ve now joined you in the Pacific NW (one day I’ll drop in on one of your classes and surprise you).


  6. I notice lack of mindfulness. I notice unnecessary crutches that become necessary — like walkers and Disabled spaces and splints of all sorts.

    I notice ventilatory dyssynergy. I notice violence, untruth, dis-integrity, unchastity (not even literally) and holding on. I notice dirtyiness (again, as with all of these, it need not be literal) discontent, laxity and un-discipline, self-centeredness, and worldliness — as opposed to personal inventory, spiritual awareness, and God-reliance.

    To paraphrase a Master, it’s WHO did it. It’s not even HOW it got this way; what matters is WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? That is, what do I ADJUST for MYSELF — my relationship with my Gr-Ru foremost, light into dark.

    For me, can I learn from these observations without judging?

    As far as Canadianisms and trivia, keep in mind that their speech has idioms and pronunciations that have remained closer to the European.

    BTW: my new assessment of women’s beauty is “good posture and a soft smile, eveything else is an accessory”.


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