Dialogue Nerds: Actions in the Dialogue

May 13, 2018

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (i.e. back in November in the teach.from.love Facebook Group), Steve Guthrie asked: “Hey, Steven Haver, do you have a list of all the actions in the Dialogue?”

 

The fact that someone would ask me such a question amuses me to no end. Funnier still is that it doesn’t even seem like a strange question to me—of course I have a list of all the actions in the Dialogue! To be honest, this is the second time I’ve made this list.

 

We did a whole webinar in response to Steve’s question and so if you enjoy this post you should definitely check out: Dialogue Nerds: What To Do, How To Do​.

 

The first thing to understand about the Dialogue is that you can’t just count all the verbs. By my count there are 114 verbs in the Dialogue, and 89 of them are used as commands. But that’s only part of the story.

 

Many of the commands in the Dialogue do not use a verb at all. Imagine you were playing a game of Twister: “Right foot, yellow. Left hand on green.” We can use these simple directions because there’s a basic understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish. In some cases the verb is implied (get, put, bring, keep, etc.) and other times no verb is needed at all.

 

The most common construction in the Dialogue is a body part + a preposition/adjective/adverb. In other words, a simple directive of how or where the body part should be positioned. For example:

“Arms and head back. Chin up.”

“Feet together.”

“Weight in the heels.”

“Elbows locked.”

 

These simple commands are very efficient and unambiguous. They are part of what makes Bikram Yoga so accessible to beginners. They are easy to understand, even for non-native speakers, non-auditory learners, or any student who has difficulty with language. Maintaining the commanding language also keeps students in their moving meditation (talking directly to the body instead of to the mind). If your goal is to make efficient, effective verbal corrections, then these will be some of your best tools. “Bob, fingers back one inch” (in Cobra, for example).

 

Common prepositions/adjectives used as commands in the Dialogue:

Up* (40+ as commands, lots more as prepositions/adverbs)

Down* (13 in pranayama breathing, 21 more as commands)

Forward* (lots)

Back* (lots)

On* (lots)

Over* (17)

Straight* (34)

Together* (60+*)

Touching*  (touching 50, touch 61—111 total)

Open* (occasionally used as a verb, but usually a simple command: “eyes open”)

 

When other teachers take my class, they often tell me that my corrections all sound like they are from the Dialogue. Most of the time that’s because they are! I always try link my corrections back to the Dialogue so that when the students hear that same line in someone else’s class, they remember the correction I gave them and can check themselves. Even when I’m going completely “off the Dialogue,” it’s not really true, because I still try to use simple commands or commonly used verbs from the Dialogue. The verbs below are used over and over again in different postures. They are so familiar to students that they don’t need to think about them—again, distracting as little as possible from the moving meditation.

 

Most frequently used verbs:

Stretch (lots)

Push (49)

Pull (32)

Inhale (49 times, 20 in pranayama, 29 after) *Take a deep breath (10)

Exhale (41 times, 19 in pranayama, 22 after)

Look (45)

Keep (38)

Come (up/down/off/to) (lots, 35+)

Turn (33)

Bring (33)

Open (33)

Relax (30)

Kick (25)

Sit (down, up, facing) (17, 3, 2—22 total)

Grab (22)

Bend (21)

Lock (locked*) (~20)

Lean (leaning*) (13)

Suck (18)

Lift (15)

Try (15)

Go (15?)

Hold (14)

Roll (12)

Stop (11)

Put (10)

Step (stepping*) (10)

Get (10 times, lots more times as a result)

Twist (20, but repeated a lot in Spine Twisting. It’s more like 5: Eagle, Triangle, Locust, Spine Twisting)

 

These verbs are also very common but with some caveats:

“Change” (15)  Postures that end with “change” are always right/left side. If you are using change at the end of every posture, it might be a good idea to go look at the endings in the Dialogue to see if you’re missing any important information.

 

“Should” (49 times) This is a helping verb, so it usually combines with another verb. Often the shoulds are part of “the effect of doing” and so they do not make very efficient corrections.

 

“Don’t” (Do not) There are many instances of “don’t” in the Dialogue (46); however, almost all of them come right before or after a ‘what to do’ or a ‘how to do’. In other words, they are used for emphasis, or to correct a common mistake. When making corrections in class, it’s much more effective to tell a student what to do than what not to do.

 

“Make (sure/up)” (24) Same thing. Lots of make sure, but usually as emphasis or to reiterate something.

 

Another really interesting point about the verbs is how early they show up in class. Depending on how you’re counting (all verbs or just verbs used as commands) about 25% to 33% of all the verbs in the Dialogue show up before the end of Pranayama Breathing. And by the end of Eagle we have 75% of the verbs. By the end of Standing Head to Knee pose we have already used 74 of the 89 commands! That’s 83% in the first half hour of class.

 

As you read through the list below, it’s kind of fun to try to figure out where those commands are used for the first time. To make it a bit easier, I’ve included the names of the postures in the list. If you find yourself wishing that it was just one long list without the names of the postures as hints, then you are most definitely a Dialogue nerd! But seeing as how this is the end of the blog post and you're still here reading... well, I guess we already knew that. :-) Enjoy!

 

Verbs and simple commands in order of first appearance:

----------Pranayama Breathing

Is (To Be) (lots)

Listen (twice)

Inhale (49 times, 20 in pranayama, 29 after)

Exhale (41 times, 19 in pranayama, 22 after)

Should (49 times)

Breathe (2 times. “Breathing normal” 9 times)

On* (lots)

Together* (60+)

Touching*  (touching 50, touch 61—111 total)

Swallow (3)

Look (45)

Concentrate (5)

Meditate (2)

Down* (13 in pranayama breathing, 21 after as commands. 138 total)

Up* (40+ as commands, lots more as prepositions/adverbs)

Start (3 commands, 14 total)

Push (49)

Bring (33)

Open* (33)

Straight* (34)

In*

See** (result, just once)

Wait (twice)

Hold (14)

Use (~8)

Suck (18)

Forward* (lots)

Do (Don’t*) (lots)

Move (10, mostly after "don’t")

Try (15)

Hurt (hurts)* (usually a result)

Grip (“grip tight”) (5)

Feel (result)

Take (12)

Stand (2)

Keep (38)

Let (6)

Have (you’ve, you have to, you have got) (lots)

Go (15?)

----------Half Moon

Over* (17)

Interlock (3)

Release (2)

Cross  (9)

Lose (12)

Stretch (lots!)

Can (can’t) (24)

Stop (11)

Lock (locked*) (~20)

Lean (leaning*) (13)

Back* (lots)

Blink (4)

Bend (21)

Create (7)

Come (up/down/off/to) (lots, 35+)

Drop (4)

Fall (5)

----------Pada-Hastasana

Put (10)

Make (sure/up) (24)

Grab (22)

Step (stepping*) (10)

Pull (32)

Roll (12)

----------Awkward

Change (15)

Sit (down, up, facing) (17, 3, 2—22 total)

Lift (15)

Focus (7)

Imagine (1)

Relax (30)

Slow (“down like an elevator ride”—all others are adverbs, not commands)

Bounce (Awk, Triangle)

----------Eagle

Mix (once)

Interlace (once)

Stay (4 times)

Twist (20, repeated a lot in spine twist. Really it’s more like 5: Eagle, Triangle, Locust, and   Spine Twisting pose)

Arch (once)

Get (10 times, lots more times as a result)

Slide (once)

----------SH2K

Wipe (once)

Shift (once)

Kick (25)

Turn (33)

Think (very deeply/I’m pulling your hair. Twice.)

Distribute (only twice, but really important both times)

Balance (once as a command, a few more times as result)

Learn (not a command)

Flex (5)

Contract (5)

Give (up, me money) (4)

----------Standing Bow Pulling

Say (MGMM!) (once)

Charge (twice)

----------Balancing Stick

Hear (not a command)

Pointed* (Point, 9 times)

----------SSLS

Need (not a command, used twice)

----------Triangle

Freeze (left side) (used 5 times: triangle 1, wind removing 3, cobra 1)

----------SSLH2K

Tuck (3)

Choked* (throat choked, 3 times)

----------Tree

Slips (not a command, used once)

--------------------Floor-----Savasana

Lie (lay) (8)

Not commands: burn, driving, fill, gain, practicing, explain. :-)

----------Wind Removing

Massaging (not a command)

----------Sit Up

Double Jerk

----------Cobra

Glue (it down—only once as a verb.)

----------Locust

Struggle (once)

Separate (used twice, also FF)

Compromise (used once)

----------Full Locust

Out* (only once as a command)

Reach (special note)

----------Bow

Lower (down) (used once, all other uses are adjectives)

----------Fixed Firm

Mess (*Not* a command!)

----------Half Tortoise

(Not commands: Activate, re-energize, revitalize, reorganize, sleeping*, functioning*, working*, need) :-)

----------Camel

Want (once)

----------Rabbit

Walk (3 times)

----------Stretching

Off*? (heels off, a couple of times)

----------Kapalbhati Breathing

End (once)

Blow (once)

Follow (once)

----------The End

Everyone have a good day!

 

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