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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

An Interview with Yogi Bryan Kest

Oct 30, 2015 08:50AM ● By Lee Walker

Bryan Kest, the founder of Power Yoga, began his yoga practice at age 14. He initially studied in Hawaii with David Williams, the first individual to bring ashtanga yoga to America. He later moved to India to study with K. Pattabhi Jois, the main proponent of ashtanga yoga. Kest will conduct a Power Yoga Master Class at greenmonkey Studio on November 22.

What is ashtanga yoga, the foundation of your Power Yoga?

Ashtanga yoga is a vigorous, dogmatic sequence of poses that doesn’t change. It’s the original form of flow yoga.

What was the inspiration for your Power Yoga?

Power Yoga is just what I thought was a super cool name back in the 1990s. Unfortunately, because of today’s stereotype of the word “power”, my form of incredibly empowering yoga is misunderstood. In fact, it alienates individuals who think they need to have strength, work hard and be athletic to do it. In my opinion, this stereotype is wrong. Nothing could be more powerful than gentleness, humility and passion, which is what Power Yoga cultivates.

The truth is that there is no performance pressure, and everyone at any level is welcome. The self-empowerment that I refer to is the result of how students feel when they leave class—light, free, energetic, crystal-clear, calm and connected. Students walk away feeling whole, complete and satisfied. I compare it to the moment after an orgasm when you feel satiated, contented, peaceful and non-desirous.

The sense of self-empowerment that follows yoga practice, which integrates the body, mind, and spirit, also includes qualities that lead human beings to cultivate wellness and healing. These qualities—gentleness, calmness, patience, humility, compassion and gratitude—are the same qualities that not only enhance all relationships on Earth, but also reduce stress, which is cited by medical science as the largest precursor to disease.

What is the most significant truth you have learned from your yoga practice?

I've learned that my greatest yoga teacher is within. The knowledge I've acquired is a direct result of me quieting my mind and being open to receive the teachings coming through.

The real work of a yoga instructor is to create the right environment for the practice of yoga (quieting the mind) and reinforcing the truths being exposed. Yoga practice is my opportunity to quiet my mind and step away from the judgments and labels that separate me from my true self and all things. Quieting my mind gives me the opportunity to tap into the universal depository of all knowledge.

Reflecting on my experiences in yoga, any and all of the spiritual information I have acquired has come from within. I do not parrot what a great yogi or saint has said. What I teach, the message and knowledge come from me. I find the knowledge that I have is congruent with the majority of the teachings from yoga philosophy, as well as that of many great saints. I feel that I am on the right track when my understanding parallels that of great teachers and saints and the parallels make sense, because truth is truth.

For more information, contact greenmonkey Studio, located at 6200 Trail Blvd., in N., Naples. Call 239-598-1938 or visit greenmonkey.com. Naples Yoga Center is co-hosting Kest.

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