Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Look at the hot girl in front of you, OK now you're done

Anyone who knows who Bryan Kest is will understand my complete and utter excitement that I had the opportunity to take a 3 hour master class with him on Sunday. Bryan is the creator of power yoga as we know it, and he is the most no-bullshit person I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.  He opened his talk by saying, "Well, I could either start by talking to you about how you bring your shit into yoga and you turn yoga into shit. Or we could talk about how every fucking yoga pose is stupid."  Welcome to my head spinning around in exorcist circles in shock at this man and his theories on yoga.

packed class for Bryan Kest

So Bryan talked for an hour about how we are polluting our bodies by polluting our minds with stress and killing ourselves, about how we spend so much time competing in yoga that we lose the whole purpose of the practice. He also managed to say shit and fuck more times than I thought humanly possible in that time frame, as well as the phrase "kunalindi shooting up your asshole" multiple times.

Let's just remember the reason that the yoga asana practice was created, so we could sit on our asana and meditate for longer. It wasn't so your abs would look nice in a bikini or so you could bounce a quarter off your tush. Those are just happy side effects of the practice.

The idea that really stuck with me of Bryan's was the idea to not look around the room.  He started the class by bringing us to virasana, or sitting on your knees, and telling us to look around the room.  "This is it for the rest of the class, look around, see what you need to see. OK, now you're done and you can practice without looking at anyone else." You've heard other yoga teachers say it, you've heard me say it, don't worry about what other people are doing on their mats, there is no competition in yoga.
no peeking 

Bryan took this idea a step farther, don't even look at the person next to you because the person next to you doesn't matter to your practice. All that matters in that you are getting the full benefit of your practice, and the only way to get the full benefit is to not look around the room and stay on your mat. We talk about keeping the mind still, staying with your practice for the hour or hour and a half you're in class and not letting the mind wander off the mat, how about not letting your eyes wander off the mat? How do you think you're going to stay present on the mat with your mind if you're checking out the guy with no shirt on in front of you.

Bryan made another point that spoke to me, as long as you are in your fullest expression of the pose you are getting the most benefit possible from that pose.  That means if you are doing utanasana, or as Bryan might remind us, bending over and touching your toes, you don't have to look like everyone else to get the same benefit as the person next to you. If you bend over and your fingers are a foot off the ground, but you push your sit bones back, your stretch your neck down, you engage into the quads, and open into the hamstrings, you are getting the same benefit as the girl in the lulus who's head is on the floor.

I would venture to say that bendy lulu chick might be getting less intense of a stretch than you are. That means you Mr. or Ms. with the strained face and the "inflexible" hamstrings are getting more benefit from your forward fold than lulu in the front row. Look at that you won. Now put your head down and stop looking around.


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