Next month is my yoga teaching anniversary. With just under two years under my belt, the lessons keep coming — some faster than others. One of the many reasons why I enjoy being a part of the Evolution Yoga team is that owner and studio director Sandy Gross continues her lifelong education of yoga by hosting the best yoga teachers in the world here in Cleveland.
One of those teachers that she’s asked to return several times is Bryan Kest. He is recognized as a creator of Power Yoga. Bryan is the founder of Santa Monica Power Yoga in Santa Monica, but continues to teach classes, retreats and workshops all over the world. Since Bryan was born here in Cleveland, Ohio (someone update his Wikipedia page, please!), he’s always welcome to working in a visit to the Northeastern Ohio area.
This Wednesday night, Bryan made his ninth visit to Evolution Yoga, teaching a room full of 90+ yogis at the Shaker Dance Academy.
Starting at 6:45PM, Bryan class ran all the way until 10:20PM. Part lecture and part asana practice, he challenged our thought patterns while keeping us on our toes the entire evening. If you know anything about Bryan’s teaching style, he’s been known to add some colorful language into his lessons. This is just a collection of some of the quotes from Wednesday’s practice:
- “Yoga is like a buffet. Eat what you want, don’t eat what you don’t want – and don’t blame the chef if you ate too much!”
- (after someone let out a fairly long sigh in down dog) “We’ve got a moaner!!”
- “I’ve been asked, “should you do inversions while you are menstruating?” How the f*ck would I know?!? Ladies, you have some crazy sh*it going on!”
With a name like “power yoga”, you knew exactly what you were getting into in terms of the asana practice. The flows were challenging, inspiring and kept you on your toes – even when you knew what was coming. Bryan told us to consider the class to be a big game of Simon Says – so while I knew we had to still flow the pattern of poses on our opposite side, I remained intensely focused – mostly because I wasn’t sure what was up his sleeve.
As we moved, Bryan also snuck in a plethora of gems – even with the occasional curse word:
- “Yoga NEVER tells you what to do. Yoga doesn’t ask you to do anything except to wake the f*ck up.”
- If you bring your sh*t to yoga (competition, vanity, judgment, reactivity), your yoga turns to sh*t.”
But then there were some that were sans cursing — all golden:
- “Yoga is not a sport. It is awareness. Meditation is killing the enemy.”
- “Cultivate the benevolent. Eliminate the malevolent.”
- And my personal favorite: “Yoga doesn’t want to change you — it wants to take care of you.”
When the words came out of Bryan’s mouth, my eyes looked up from my trusty notebook — the light bulb had appeared over my head. Lately, I’ve been noticing just how hard I am on myself. While fully aware of it, it’s been hard to kick that habit — and to embrace one of being kind — forgiving of myself even. Bryan encouraged us to drop those habits of negativity, judgement and aggression; noting how much better our lives would be if we could just seek the peace that lived inside us already. That last quote was exactly what I needed to hear that night. It’s been easy to take that lesson with me since — and I’m grateful to him for that.
LONG STORY SHORT: Earlier that night, I joined Sandy as she picked Bryan up before the class. On the car ride there, I could tell by her giddiness that we were all in for a treat. I purposefully came in to the night blindly — not watching any YouTube videos or even reading up all that much about Bryan. I wanted to be surprised by the experience in his class — and he didn’t disappoint. Bryan’s going to be visiting us at Evolution again this coming February, so keep an eye on the Evolution Yoga website. Sign up early — this last session sold out and I’m sure Clevelanders will be back for more Bryan Kest this winter!
Disclosure: I work at Evolution Yoga as a yoga teacher. My thoughts and opinions are my own.