September 2, 2010

Bryan Kest Yoga: if you want to change the world take a look at yourself and make the change

The Lord of the Flies; did you read the book or watch the movie? If you haven’t I hardly recommend you do, especially if you are in the effort to understand your own humanity and the behavior other humans engage in.

These being said I will ask this:

When do you envisioning yourself living life as a yogi?

When do you see yourself putting your yoga practice into good use?

When will you assimilate that yoga is not about the postures you go practice in a classroom on top of a mat? When will you see clearly that who You Are is not a separate “state of being” when you are on your mat doing asana practice in a yoga class from when you are doing anything else in life?

When will you understand that everything we do at the physical level is asana practice, everything we do in life is a posture we chose and a posture that usually challenges our state of mind and invites us to be masters of ourselves remaining peaceful at all times, vibrating love, compassion and joy?

When will you stop seeing yourself through the eyes of others and place a value  to yourself based on a stranger’s judgmental opinion of what, how and who should you be?

My dear readers, thank you for the patience while I’ve been invested in a deep and intense yoga teacher’s training with Bryan Kest, founder of Power Yoga, who with 31 years of experience as a yoga teacher, thousands of classes under his belt, 20 days Vipassana courses sat and the livelihood of a householder, chose to one more time be of service and train 55 people who were eager to grow and evolve within their yoga practice.

Bryan Kest is known for his success as a guru, sharing his own practice with others to the deepest level and challenging his students to rise above themselves with a strong solid foundation that results from our own yoga practice.

We, the 55 people in this year training (notice the magic number 55), were a variety of yogis: yoga teachers, politicians, doctors, first-timers, singers, soldiers, business people, models, managers, costume designers, dancers, a Mexican pop idol, singles, married, one park ranger and a Pentagon yoga teacher ~ people from different countries, all united by one single interest: to develop a deeper understanding to our yoga.

Bryan’s talent to push his students to face their deepest challenges as a human being and learn from their own experience is recognized around the world and is one of the reasons people crave for his yoga teachings and follow his practice, because even when the student is not understanding the teaching process in itself, the result always (in my experience as his student) always ends bringing you closer to who you are with a clearer understanding of your own issues and the challenges you have to overcome in order to be a healthier and happier person, giving you the tools and the “how to” guideline for a happy lifestyle.

As part of Bryan’s yoga teacher training, besides practicing yoga and meditation all morning and afternoon, we all vowed and committed to a list of “tapas” (restraints placed on the self in order to create a safe environment conducive to a deeper yoga practice) His Tapas where quite simple: Don’t be late to practice, don’t eat between meals, do not engage in media use including no internet, don’t speak in the day of noble silence, don’t speak during the silent walks, do not indulge in alcohol of any toxicity, don’t gossip and do not talk about others in a negative way, basically keep yourself aligned to your Yamas and Niyamas, the first two limbs of yoga practice in Ashtanga style.

Those who broke their tapas, wouldn’t and didn’t get a certificate… even if your leg lifted higher than everybody else’s and even if you could touch your head to your knees or hold the pose longer, stronger or prettier.

So after 3 weeks of hard work, only 12 people earned their certification, the remain 43 openly admitted having broken their tapas; even though the first important teaching I learned from Bryan Kest a decade ago is that, after all, certification is not needed to teach others what you have learned through your own practice and that the teacher is within, the reality of not receiving a certificate was a challenge to many  in the group, even after agreeing on the fact  that Yoga Alliance has corrupted the yoga tradition with a bureocratic process that gives certificates to anybody that had completed certain hours of asana practice (imagine that, an ancient deep practice of meditation is left to be though by anybody that can complete a certain amount of acrobatic practice, LoL -non mentioning that nobody knows who are these people that decided to place themselves in a place of power enabling themselves as qualify people to certificate others as yoga teachers by following an un-flexible to do list – yoga in the west is slowly but surely blending with the American way and the American way likes to institutionalize and systematize everything, but mainly the American way likes to measure achievement through the documentation of what the west consider progress, a title on the wall); even after agreeing on the ridicule idea of what a yoga teacher certification is, the reality to not receive one was overwhelming and for a couple of days confusion, doubt, anger, frustration, disappointment set in everybody’s mood and in the middle of everybody’s human nature, Yoga was forgotten.

At the end of 3 weeks of intense yoga practice, the group fell in the mistake most everybody makes when practicing yoga: thinking that  all that time in the mat doing different poses with the body deserved a recognition and a certification of our capacity to teach others yoga, forgetting that yoga is much more than just acrobatics and requires a deep commitment to our wholesome quality of practice, the golden middle right way of conduct at all times. As a yogi, you don’t lie, you don’t steal, you don’t harm others, you don’t gossip, you don’t judge, you don’t crave and you don’t generate anger, BEFORE you engage into asana practice. It is part of your foundation. If I, as a yoga teacher, do not understand this simple stage of the yoga practice, how can I claim myself ready to teach yoga to others? Certificate or no certificate.

Back to the basics, yoga is a meditation practice, a breathing exercise, a practice of self observation, a union between mind, body and spirit, thoughts, words and actions are to be one and the same; yoga is a practice created and developed to help us, humans, remain healthy, centered, calm, peaceful and vibrating harmony at all times, by guarding the balance of our mind…especially when facing difficult moments…especially when disagreeing with other human fellows, especially when conflict -with ourselves or others- arises, especially when one does not get what one wants, especially when we are faced with ourselves and our weaknesses…

So to answer the above questions about when I am going to use my yoga practice properly: if not NOW, then when? If not always, then when? If not outside of my mat and in my everyday life, then not only when but why?

To my fellow yogis, I love you all.

To Bryan Kest, kudos to you for succeeding once more as a yoga guru (he who gives light).



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