When Steve first came into my class, he had a pronounced slump, and his body and face were all gray from not being able to take in enough oxygen.

He was about 58 years old at the time, a geography professor at the University of California at Davis. Locked into the academic environment, he’d never really “lived in his body”; he was disconnected from it, living completely in his head.

In one class, when I asked him to correct his posture in a seated asana, he asked, “Why? I’ve slumped all my life.” I figured that he would respond only to a very downto- earth reason, so I explained that a straightened posture allowed room for the lungs and the heart to function more efficiently. That resonated with his entirely rational mind, so he was willing to give it a try.

For the next year and a half, he came faithfully twice a week to my classes. With this kind of dedication, his posture gradually improved, as did his health and coloring. Not long ago, I met him on the street. He said he was leaving for France and asked, “Would you please give me a hug before I leave?” When I did, my chin ran into his shoulder — and I used to think that he was exactly as tall as I am. From his regular practice, he’d gained about three inches in height!

Some time later, at his retirement party, his daughter came up to me and said, “I want to thank you so much for all you’ve done for my dad. He’s a new person!”

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