In my quest to catalogue what some of my favorite teachers have to say about the meaning of yoga, in a personal quest to figure it out for myself, I like what Bryan Kest of Santa Monica, CA has to say. I’ve only taken one class with him, but I loved it.
[Aside: My yoga crush further deepened when I found this AMAZING video. His hair is Kenny G incredible. His press to handstand is bad ass. His cut-off acid-wash denim pants make me giggle. The jilty editing is endearing. And the teaching is accessible. What I like about Mr Kest is that he speaks plainly, so as to allow a simpleton like me to understand what he says about the yoga.]
Anyway, from his website, this is what he has to say about yoga and asana:
There is no enlightenment at the end of a pose…It seems to me in a general sense we as a society are enamored with the mystical, mysterious, the unseen and unknown…Yoga practice seems to be used to access some deeper dimension or some enlightened state. Understand right now there is no connection between flexibility and enlightenment. Your physical capabilities have nothing to do with higher consciousness…These asanas are simply tools to access different places in your body and care for them….
…That being said, now what is mystical? What is powerful? Why do we believe that it is mysterious, unseen and unknown?…Firstly, is there anything more mystical and powerful than life?…Why do people constantly look outside their circumstances for meaning and teachings? It’s not on a sacred scroll; it’s in the mirror!…It’s in that bankruptcy, and it’s that kiss!…It seems to me if I would want to access the special, mysterious, mystical, powerful and most important, I simply need to live my life more fully. I need to somehow peel away the dullness and heighten my sensitivity and alertness….I see this in the life and teachings of all the masters, poets, god-like beings and yogis. Jesus said “love,” “forgive,” have “compassion” and “don’t judge.” Buddha said “observe,” “be silent,” and “serve.”…Gandhi was a life of truth and non-violence. The goal of yoga according to Patanjali I am told is citta vrtti nirodha, which means to be silent or free from mental fluctuations….These lives and these teachings are only esoteric in their simplicity….These lives and these teachings did not in any way express that there is anything needed to access the ultimate beyond what exists in our lives right now!
This is what our yoga practice is trying to accomplish….Simply heightened states of awareness, enlightenment, becoming more and more aware which gives more and more insight, which brings wisdom and gives choice….We see more and more clearly how we create our own suffering, how we can create our own prosperity, and we begin to live the mystical life.