Sometimes, my words as a yoga teacher have a life of their own. Recently I was pleased to receive this email message from a student:

“You had advised us during the last class of the summer session to pick three poses, do them every day, and see what happens. I picked plank, warrior 1, and dandasana against a wall (the one where you lift your arms up and try to touch your thumbs to the wall).

This morning my son got me to try upward bow pose, the one where you had to spot us with straps and I couldn’t get even one millimetre off the ground by myself.

I got up! Not all the way to straight arms, but still! I guess my upper back is a lot more open.”

She happens to be a linguistics professor and might be especially conscious about language, but she later commented that my three words—see what happens—made her do it. Otherwise I would’ve been just another Goody Two-shoes telling others to exercise it’s “good for you.” “But to see what happens?” she said. “There’s a hook!”

Truth be told, I only vaguely remember saying those exact words. (I carefully plan my class sequences (or themes), but my words are spontaneous.) In the back of my mind, I hoped to teach students the following:

  • To adopt a doable daily home practice.
  • To aim for regularity rather than quick results (but to realize that results are possible with regularity).
  • To absorb the Japanese concept of kaizen, slow and steady improvement, which I contemplate in past posts “One day at a time,” and “On home practice and eating salad.”

I ultimately told them simply to see what happens. For one student, it worked.

Image: YogaTeds