Bryan Kest Power Yoga Master Class - Review

Welp. Last night, I finally got to attend the Bryan Kest Power Yoga Master Class at Amazing Yoga in Shadyside. It's very hard to put an experience like this into words, but I will do my best.
Bryan Kest Power Yoga

If you've never seen or heard Bryan Kest, he really has a presence about him. For some reason, he's always reminded me a bit of Adam Sandler. (I'm not sure if that's in looks, humor or accent, but either way, that might give you a base.) Famous for his blunt, casual style, Bryan isn't afraid to tell it like it is and his philosophy and thoughts about yoga are probably the most genuine and challenging ideas I've heard from a teacher. He was not there to lead us through physical postures. He was there to guide us on a journey of awareness and acknowledgement that asanas are a very small part of yoga practice.
"Can you think of how we're going to solve any problem on this planet with loose hamstrings?" - Bryan Kest
He went on to explain that "yogis didn't give a shit about looking good." It's true. Yoga was not developed to become an exercise fad. The only reason physical asanas were created was that so yogis could safely remain sedentary in their meditative states for longer periods of time. Each yoga posture is meant to gently stimulate certain areas of the body, but should only be approached and performed in a comfortable way.
"The objective of yoga is not to make you loose. It's to make you well. All these movements are creative ways to access and care for your whole body." - Bryan Kest
Just as we are mostly sedentary in our daily lives, so do we benefit from these postures stimulating various muscles, ligaments, joints, cartilage...etc. But this is all assuming that during the postures, we are achieving or working toward awareness of our bodies and mind. Yoga practice is meant to be a time that we spend breaking mental patterns and habits, not continuing them during practice. These could be patterns of anger, self-judgement, stress, competitiveness or distraction that we do not even know we have. We are all addicted to our own thoughts and breaking any addiction is not easy.
"We will experience withdrawal symptoms from our addiction to our own stupid thoughts. You give us peace in this culture, we get bored." - Bryan Kest
The goal of all yoga is truly the cessation of the incessant whirling of an uncontrolled mind. It's not blanking out all thought, it's not a creepy new age trend and it's not a religion. It's consciously practicing to become alert to what we're thinking, what we're doing and how we're acting. Bryan mentioned a Harvard study that a shocking 85% of the thoughts we think each day are the very same thoughts we had yesterday:
"85% of the stuff if your head is complete shit. And I didn't say that, Harvard did." - Bryan Kest
What an amazing wake-up call at how the mind can wander in circles without us even realizing it. He went on to explain that many yoga practitioners in our culture never really challenge this mental state. We sit quietly. We endure the quiet time, trying to keep our thoughts from wandering. But how many of us would have attended this class if it was a Bryan Kest meditation workshop? Many people only practice for the physical benefits. Though he coined the term "Power Yoga," he called it 'stupid.' He wanted it to mean that it was 'empowering' and 'powerful,' but the term has been warped to mean something totally different that we cannot even define.

As for the physical aspect of Bryan's class, he warned us repeatedly that it would be the longest class of our lives, that we would be glad he talked so long, that it might feel hypocritical to everything he just talked about, but at the same time, reminded us that doing any pose that doesn't feel good is pointless.
"Proper form does not keep you safe. Gentleness keeps you safe." -Bryan Kest
Bryan did not want his class to look like "a bunch of programmed robots." He encouraged everyone to truly drop their ego and have the humility to modify each and every pose as necessary. The class was extremely challenging, both physically and mentally. We were packed like sardines and toward the end of class, even breathing the hot, sticky air felt like a real challenge. But technically, anyone could have done that class. Based on what he said, choosing to be aware of my body's warnings, I was not at all ashamed to modify. It felt good to move how I wanted, in and out of poses when I needed to and choosing whatever form or modifications I needed. He encouraged us to never take your eyes away from your own mat. With all that on my mind, I felt exhausted, but great when class was over. I was not sore because I was careful and gentle with my body. I wasn't there to throw myself through a series of poses. I was there to learn to control myself, my mind and my tendencies and it truly felt like the most powerful class I've ever experienced.

If you ever get a chance to see or meet Bryan Kest, I can't recommend it enough. His class was a freeing experience from what might be considered as "yoga bravado" present in many studios.
  "I don't give a shit if you do yoga or not." - Bryan Kest