With arms still burning from Cat Alip-Douglas’s morning session, I was in two minds about whether or not to attend Brian Kest’s Power Yoga class. Rolling my mat out at the back next to a familiar face, I braced myself for what was to follow. After a long talk we got down to business in Childs pose, probably the only posture I actually wanted to be in, but as we began to flow the penny started to drop.
What I had been dreading, the POWER element was gone, well my perception of power anyway. I had been picturing a small ( not quite sure why) aggressive man in a Wife Beater, ordering hundreds of lunges and push ups in a military sergeant fashion. What we got was something very different. Brian is calm and collected with a colour vocabulary and a love for storytelling. The push ups and lunges were still there but the competitive, pushy approach was not. Brian explains this by asking , “ what is more powerful than compassion, gentleness and calmness? Nothing. “ as if this was the simplest concept know to man, and it really is.
With this, I began to relax a little and through his constant guidance I focused solely on my deep, continuous breath. Now I am not new to a tough practice, as an Ashtangi I can appreciate challenge and strength testing postures but this was different. Brian doesn’t just suggest a gentler approach to your asana practice, he actively promotes it! This creates a wonderful, all inviting atmosphere where every yogi, young or old, seasoned or new can practice in peace. If you want to push yourself, he gives you the option but the responsibility lie solely with the practitioner to back off when needed.
It’s a shame that many are put off by the name Power Yoga. The name is so misleading that it almost hurts and I can’t seem to escape the irony. With my hand on my heart, I can swear that I had one of the most gentle, therapeutic and forgiving practices of my life. I took it down a notch in every posture dropping to knees in planks and modifying the postures not only when I needed to but when I should. I can’t help but feel a little sad when looking back at previous yoga classes where l have pushed myself to the point of injury when it wasn’t necessary. This is when Brian’s attitude and experience make for a fantastic class and a valuable lesson and I really hope our paths cross again in the near future.