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Bryan Kest is a rough diamond.

The delivery of his simple but profound message is littered with swear words, belches and sexual innuendo. It’s a no nonsense, cut the crap, let’s get to the real stuff approach to modern yoga. He’s about as authentic as you can get.

From the man who first created “power” yoga I was surprised we didn’t move our bodies until 1.5hrs in to his 4hr master class at Barefoot Yoga. Of course once we did get moving it was a dynamic journey. I was surprised to learn that the basis of power yoga is the opportunity you get to develop the benevolent qualities by coming face to face with the malevolent ones that surface throughout a practice that will bring most yogis to their knees at least once, god bless child’s pose.

Pardon my ignorance, I had lumped power yoga into a category which I tend to think of as yoga aerobics, fast flow that hardly let’s you land your feet in a pose, this was nothing of the sort. In fact, I would say the challenge lies more in the slowness of the flow, I’m a big believer in at least 5 breathes per pose for intensity, yoga is not meant to be a form of cardio exercise even though it will certainly elevate your heart rate.

Bryan told us yoga wants us to be ugly, as ugly as possible, that whatever shit we have going on outside comes onto the mat and basically gets layed bare. By acknowledging and in essence embracing these sufferings we could free ourselves. He insinuated that his crass approach was just a bit of a play to inspire judgement or criticism in us, there was even mention of ‘fuckasana’ at one stage, the prude in me cringed.

If yoga is an exercise of the mind first and the body second, what we think we become, we strengthen the thoughts that we entertain. Like increases like, just as resistance strengthens the physical muscles, mental challenge strengthens the ego mind. As is the Barefoot Yoga moto ‘give and receive’.

Recognising that all human suffering stems from our attachment to things; ideals, expectations, outcomes, possessions, we must relinquish the goal in order to see clearly the truth, the present moment, the only reality.

Yoga literally translated means ‘to yoke’, or in other words to harness. Through the practice of yoga we aim to be enlightened, to see clearly. That is to say by harnessing the mind we can see beyond the chitta vritti (the misconceptions created by thoughts) to what is truth, the reality of our situation.

All this brings me back to a recurring challenge I have faced in my 10 + years of practice – to experience yoga we need only sit with the mind and practice some control of it (meditation). For some of us mere mortals that struggle to sit still long enough, the asanas facilitate the journey inward, they quiet the thoughts by narrowing the focus. Certainly I found the asana practice Bryan took us through had me focused on not collapsing in a heap and that is enough for most of us to streamline the nonsense.

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