So very oddly British

The other day I walked past a house under refurbishment. The building company’s sign outside advertised high-end work and stated “Reassuringly expensive“. I smiled. So distinctively British. Living here now, I’m lucky enough to experience these delightfully British qualities every day. Even at my yoga studio:

I have now noticed that in Finland, we are actually seldom recognised verbally in any way. Nor are we ever addressed by name.
At my local yoga studio in Richmond, I’m acknowledged from the moment I first walk in. “Good morning, Anu! Need anything today?” The subtle recognition continues throughout the class with little morsels of encouragement: “Good control, Anu” and “Very strong standing series, Anu“. I really appreciate getting corrections: “Make sure your wrists are straight in this posture, Anu” and “Anu, plug your big toe onto the floor more and suck your stomach in“. I’m also gradually learning to take compliments without feeling uncomfortable.

London is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world with more than 300 languages being spoken here.
I thoroughly love the diversity at my new studio. There are the typically English names of Poppy, Kitty and Harriet. To me, people called Simon, Alistair and Richard could be characters in an English film. At least based on the variety of names I hear called up in class, there are Asians Lakshimi and Sunil, Scandinavians Astrid and Kajsa, Hispanics Esme and Felipe, as well as Eastern Europeans Olga and Paulina. We are all equals on our yoga mats. Even the tennis legend Andy Murray is just one of us beginners’ yoga practioners in the hot room.

Polite “Sorry, sorry, I’m so sorry” are words uttered quite frequently at the studio.
There are up to six classes a day and at times, the changing rooms get crowded. There are students, who just finished a class, trying to get out of their sweaty clothes. There are people queuing for showers. At the same time, another group of students wants to get ready for a new class. There are bags, clothes, yoga mats, water bottles, towels, toiletries and a lot of bumping onto one another. In Finland, these accidential collisions are either completely ignored or occasionally, awarded an “Oho“, the equivalent of “Oops“. I’m learning to pay more attention in order to keep up with the constant “Sorries“. Apologising seems to be almost like a reflex. So civil and friendly!

A carpet is a textile floor covering consisting of an upper layer of “pile” attached to a backing” (Wikipedia).
I know carpeting is traditionally a popular floor covering in Britain, but I never expected to find wall-to-wall carpeting in a hot yoga room. All the studios I’ve been to in Finland and Sweden – hardwood floors. It’s only recently that I discovered that the Bikram Yoga guidelines for affiliated studios in fact require carpeting in the yoga room. I’m getting used to the carpet now. I certainly like the fact that they are constantly cleaning it.

Being brought up in a very straightforward Finnish environment, I’ll always remain a tad too direct and all too in touch with silent moments to fully blend in here. Yet I’m fascinated with all things British, especially culture and social behaviour. Of all places, I’ve started the discovery of these exciting hidden and unspoken rules at my local Bikram Yoga Studio. It was day #27 of my 30 Day Yoga Challenge today!



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