Last night I had the opportunity and pleasure of meeting and studying with a well known Yoga teacher, Bryan Kest. It was the first time I had ever met or studied with Bryan, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.
The room was crowded, full of yogis. The workshop began with a lecture, or a talk rather. Bryan is funny, charismatic, and a bit of a rebel.. His words are what I will remember long after these sore arms of mine recover.
Bryan shared the story of how and why Asana practice began. He talked about the true meaning and purpose of yoga.“To still the fluctuations of the mind.” He talked about the ultimate goal of yoga, enlightenment, Samadhi. Not pose perfection.”You are never going to heal relationships with loose hamstrings. We have to try to develop the benevolent qualities of our mind. Through awareness we can start eradicating the shit that is hurting us.”
Something in him, I connected to on a deep level. Perhaps it was his honesty. He was real. He talked about his angry and wild past (which I can totally relate to). He openly shared that he smokes pot, and he said the “F” word, more than once. He did not come across as a phoney know it all yoga purist. He came across as someone just like me, a person, a parent, who came to yoga to heal. He talked with passion about the state of our world, and how we are all contributing, creating this world, this chaos. He also stressed that it is up to each of us to change. We have to be the change… or nothing will change.
He also talked about how even within the yoga community, there are fights, judgments, egos, teacher bashing, blacklisting.. Each style claiming they do it correctly and other practices, styles, and teachers are wrong… I have experienced this first hand, and it is really toxic. The snobbery that can be found within the yoga community is intense. Yoga is not about designer yoga pants and a perfect body. It isn’t about memorizing the sanskrit words for poses. It isn’t even about the ability to perform a difficult pose. It is about stilling the fluctuations of the mind..
Bryan is known for teaching a strong physical practice called Power Yoga. And while I am a yoga teacher, I do not have a very strong physical practice, and I certainly don’t have buns or abs of steel. Since my recent car accident, my practice has become even more gentle. I am very aware of my injuries, and I am very gentle with my body.
Thankfully, during the asana practice, Bryan repeatedly reminded us to listen to our bodies. He said, “No yoga teacher on earth knows where your body should be.” He instructed us to rest in childs pose whenever we needed. “There are 7 billion right ways to do a yoga pose.” With a strong voice he told us not to look at what other people in the class were doing, but to focus on our own breath, our own body. I was dripping in sweat halfway through the practice.
We ended the practice with a long and quiet Gratitude meditation..
I feel grateful and inspired by Bryan. I feel grateful to connect with a yoga teacher who is sharing (on a much larger scale), the message that I share with my own students..
The workshop was hosted by The Cozy Yogi, a yoga studio in Lake Worth Florida. The workshop was awesome. It ended up running late, past the scheduled time. So, without a proper thank you, I had to rush off and pick up my son and breastfeed my tired daughter.
Bryan Kest, Thank you. When I do my “head touching my leg pose” I will think of you and smile.