Nonverbal communication

My yoga teacher, Krishna, has taught me something more than asanas. A Malayalam speaker, he is not as fluent in English. Besides, he seems to be a reticent personality and is frugal with words. Ever since he started teaching me yoga four months ago, we must have barely spoken a few dozen full sentences to one another. And yet, without saying much, he manages to communicate extremely well.

Initially, if he had to teach me a step, he’d just get down on the floor and demonstrate it. Now, since I’ve learnt most of the poses, he has other means of communicating. He uses his eyes, and sometimes his hands — in and out, up and down — to indicate what I need to do next. Or he will shake his head, or mildly lift his chin. He may smile slightly — either in approval or mock reprimand. He claps once, softly, when I’ve held any pose enough.

After just a few weeks of communicating this way, along with the newfound sense of silence I had discovered inside me, I began to observe and enjoy this form of connecting with people. Without speaking out our minds, I noticed how humans and animals could still express entire volumes about ourselves. I noticed how a single look or glance could uplift or devastate; how a raised eyebrow or a twitch of the lips could embolden or disempower. I noticed how language was quite irrelevant most of the time. We all smile in the same language.

I marvelled at how oblivious I was to this form of communication. Though humans understand body language intuitively, we rarely realise how much we can say without speaking out loud. As a writer, especially, I am prone to relying on words to express myself. I’ve now realised what a limited world that can be.

A whole new dimension has opened itself up to me. Who knows what the next day, the next glance, the next nod is going to teach me?


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