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Interview with Bryan Kest - Power Yoga Advisor for Yoga.com

Philip Self
©Yoga People, LLC 2017

Bryan Kest in Yoga Pose

In class you say, "It's about feeling good, not just looking good." Please elaborate.

There are five billion people in this world. That means there should be five billion different ways to look. I see a lot of people making themselves sick trying to jam their body into some stereotypical way that society has brainwashed them into thinking they should look. I see men and women getting implants. I see exercise taking this perverted detour. The original intention of exercise was to heal and to maintain health. Now I see it as having nothing to do with health. I see most exercises based on looking good. They actually make you less healthy. You overdevelop the obvious muscles. You take drugs to enhance that. You ignore the rest, and you become more out of balance.

If you feel good, don't you think you should look good? If you don't like the way you look when you feel good, then you should reassess the way you think you should look. We're all so stuck on looking good. I understand the objective. I want to look good. But let's do it with awareness. Let's not base our opinion of ourselves on what other people think about us. Have you ever read a statistic that says prettier people are healthier or happier? If your self-esteem and self-value is based on how you look, then you're in trouble. I guarantee you one thing - no matter how pretty you are, it will change. When it changes, what are you going to do and who are you?

How does one overcome the attachment to physical appearance?

Overcoming it is not easy, but seeing through it is a little easier. Once you understand that, you will slowly start to overcome it. The first step in any healing program is awareness. You can't heal anything you are not aware of. I still deal with it. I teach it every day, and I still catch myself being judgmental or critical about myself. It's a lifetime's work, but the less judgmental I am the better I feel every day.

The goal of everybody's life is peace. Everybody is running around like a little ant trying to do what they think they have to do in order to get peace. I look at peace as a state of being, not something that you can get on the outside. If you base your happiness on getting somewhere, when you get there you're just going to want something else, because that's your mentality. "I'll be happy when..."

The root of being happy is self-acceptance. My happiness does not depend on anything that's happening on the outside. Whatever is happening on the outside will change. It's out of my control. If my happiness is based on something that's out of my control, I'm setting myself up for disappointment and frustration. My happiness has to be based on something inside that transcends all my experiences.

What is the importance of yoga and meditation?

Yoga and meditation are the most optimal situations for me to learn and grow, and become more connected with my spirituality and the universe. Yoga and meditation are the optimal situations for healing. There is nothing more practical you could ever do than yoga. Yoga keeps you alive. It keeps you supple. On the physical level, there is nothing more important than suppleness. Suppleness represents healthy, vibrant, toned muscles that are relaxed enough to let your skeleton fall into place. When your skeleton falls into place, you experience alignment. When you are aligned, all the energy moves freely, and you feel light and good. Forget about all the spiritual mumbo jumbo. That's just physical, practical stuff. You can't beat it. There is nothing more appropriate than yoga.

Bryan Kest has been practicing yoga for over eighteen years, starting at the age of fifteen in Hawaii with David Williams, the first person to bring Ashtanga yoga to America. He spent over a year studying intensively with K. Pattabhi Jois, Sanskrit scholar and Ashtanga yoga master, in Mysore, India. Bryan studied holistic health and nutrition at Ryokan College, and was a yoga therapist on staff at Esteem, a Santa Monica treatment center for people with eating disorders. He has been teaching for thirteen years and is the owner of the Santa Monica Power Yoga Center. His unique teaching style has been popularized by his three-part video series Bryan Kest's Power Yoga.

Reprinted with Permission
Excerpt from Yogi Bare, the Naked Truth from America's Leading Yoga Teachers.
Philip Self
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