Always Say Less Than Necessary (Ninja Nunchi)

Nunchi Yoga

I talk too much. I get over-excited, especially in new interactions. I’m curious and enthusiastic and not brave enough to leave empty spaces. I feel a compulsion to fill the silence. And the problem with talking too much is that you can’t talk and listen at the same time. So I imagine I’m missing out on a whole lot.

I recently listened to a fantastic interview on The James Altucher Show with Euny Hong on the art of nunchi. Nunchi is a Korean concept, similar to emotional intelligence. Hong says for quick nunchi, “all you need are your eyes, your ears and a quiet mind.”


“Understand when you enter a new environment, your task is to learn and absorb as much as possible.” Robert Greene

One aspect of nunchi is sensitivity to your environment. Here are a few of Euny’s recommendations for entering a new space. She says it’s like walking into an exam room where you’re being shown the answers to the test. If you just pay attention. 

  1. Empty your mind of preconceptions. Even if the space is familiar to you, each time you enter a room, the dynamic is different.
  2. Take a breath. Don’t feel as though you need to say something or make a joke. If you wait long enough, most of your questions will be answered without you having to say a word.
  3. Plug yourself into the environment. Use your five senses to absorb information. Trust the intelligence of your body, instead of relying on the analytical part of your brain.
  4. Sense the room as an entity rather than focusing on individuals. This provides context. What is the mood of the room? Is it light or heavy? Can you sense nervousness or excitement?
  5. Be aware of the nunchi-observer effect. When you enter a room, you change the room. Be aware of your influence.


You can also apply nunchi to your yoga practice. Each time you step onto your mat, your body is different. Even if you’ve done a pose or a routine a hundred times, this time your body, your mood and the space you are in are entirely different. The dynamic between all these factors is unique. I try to respond to my body rather than control the experience with my mind. Instead of following alignment cues, I see how my body responds when I put it into certain positions. And that’s ninja nunchi.

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