Creative Status is a podcast about using your creativity to increase your status and improve your health, wealth, and relationships.
Creativity increases your AWARENESS ?
The only thing you can really become AWARE of is the truth about life.
This is why creative activities like yoga or anything else that helps you to FIND OUT WHO YOU REALLY ARE and what life really is are so important.
When you find an awareness-raising activity that works for you then you are able to PRACTICE improving your relationship with reality so you can live a better life.
This is why they say “TAKE YOUR YOGA OFF THE MAT” – the lessons you learn in that practice make you better equipped to deal with life itself because – in those moments – you become more AWARE of exactly what life is and how it works.
The only thing you can really become AWARE of is the NATURAL LAWS that apply to us all – this is because yoga or anything else creative exposes the GAP between the ideas in your head and what’s actually real (this is THE EDGE).
When you become aware of the NATURAL LAWS then you can align yourself with them which removes unnecessary friction and STRESS from your life (which causes most of the mental and physical problems in your life).
Bryan Kest is the creator of Power Yoga – his Power Yoga video series is one of the best-selling home workouts of all time and has introduced millions of people around the world to daily yoga practice.
Bryan is also the founder of Santa Monica Power Yoga, based in Santa Monica, California, and he leads yoga classes, retreats and workshops all around the world. He is also credited with pioneering the practice of donation-based yoga in the United States.
If you’ve ever known or spoken much to me in real life then there’s an incredibly high chance that I’ve recommended Bryan’s workouts to you… I have been doing them for years – literally done them thousand of times at this point in my life – and, even though they’re an amazing physical workout, it’s Bryan’s philosophy of life and the mindset he espouses in the videos that offers the most real power.
In this interview, we explore this philosophy in detail and look at the overlap between yoga and creativity for living a REAL life.
There’s a ton of incredible insight that Bryan shares here about strengthening the benevolent and eradicating the malevolent in our lives, living without mental stress, ACCEPTANCE of ourselves and life, taking our yoga off the mat, universal laws, flow, reality, and ton of other things that will help you live a happier, more creative life!
There’s loads of amazing insight in this interview – check it out on Spotify, any other podcast platform, or by using the player above.
(Scroll down for show transcript)
Leave a voice message to share your thoughts and to be (maybe) featured on future episodes of the podcast: anchor.fm/creativestatus
Bryan’s website: poweryoga.com
Stay up-to-date with Bryan on Instagram: instagram.com/bryankestpoweryoga
Creative Status Links:
Show Transript: Bryan Kest: Strengthen the Benevolent & Eradicate the Malevolent
Oli Anderson: Oh hi there, Oli Anderson here, you’re listening to Creative Status, this is a podcast about using your creativity to improve your life. In this context, creativity isn’t just about painting pretty pictures or dancing around under the moonlight with a crystal and sticking your finger in your belly button or any of that stuff.
Creativity actually is just a natural drive that we all have towards wholeness and integration and acceptance of ourselves, the world and reality. That ultimately means that anything you do that makes you more present and more whole and more real and involves you in that process can be considered a creative act.
At least that’s what I’m now starting to think about all this stuff. If you don’t know, because you just discovered this podcast and you’ve made it this far in already, my name is Oli Anderson, like I said, I’m an author, but I also work as a creative coach for people. I help people to figure out how they can be more creative or how to get better results from their creative work. I won’t run loads about that. Today’s guest is Bryan Kest. Bryan Kest is a yoga instructor. He’s very, very well known in the world of yoga.
If you’re into that, I actually found his work more than a decade ago. When I first started doing yoga, I discovered his DVDs. He has an amazing Power Yoga series. In fact, he’s the guy that invented Power Yoga or at least gave it that name. If you know me in real life, then I will have definitely recommended these workouts to you.
I’ve probably sent the videos to on YouTube or whatever, or told you to go get the DVD and just ranted and raved about how much they’ve helped me. What I love about Bryan’s work is not just the workouts themselves, which are still the best workouts I’ve found in the world of yoga anyway, but the philosophy that he kind of interweaves into the workouts themselves.
He’s got a really amazing understanding and grasp of, I think, the human condition and how we can be more human, what it means to be accepting and to live a life without judgment. You’re going to hear loads in the interview that’s coming up, so I don’t need to rant and rave about it. This is a really good interview, in my opinion, with somebody that I really admire.
Bryan, thank you for coming on and giving me a time. I hope whoever you are listening to this, you get some value from it. I’m pretty much sure you will, because the philosophy that I just talked about is expounded upon here. Other than that, I’m going to stop talking so we can get into it, because it’s more interesting than anything I’m going to say here. But yes, enjoy this interview. I’ll see you next Monday. Bryan, thank you again for coming on and talking to me about all this stuff. Here we go.
Oli Anderson: Hi there, Bryan. Thank you for joining me today on Creative Status. As you know, I have done a lot of your workouts. I spent a lot of time with your yoga videos. Just in case people listening don’t know who you are or what your work is all about, would you mind just quickly introducing yourself and telling us what you stand for and all that kind of thing?
Bryan Kest: Yeah, sure. Hey, you guys. My name is Bryan Kast. Basically, I’m a yoga instructor. I’m a yoga instructor that has been through a lot over the last 42 years of yoga involvement. I did a three-video set with Warner Brothers that got out a style of yoga called Power Yoga that I created.
That became quite popular worldwide. I created PowerYoga.com, which was one of the very first online yoga streaming sites, created one of the first online yoga teachers trainings, and also started the Western World’s first donation-based yoga studio. So I experimented with a lot of things and had had an amazing journey along the way.
Oli Anderson: Yeah, it’s not really an understatement to say that you’re a very influential person in the world of yoga. One reason that I wanted to talk to you today is because even though, obviously, the workouts that you’ve shared in the Warner Brothers videos and all that kind of stuff, amazing workouts physically, there’s a kind of undercurrent of philosophy that runs through them, which I have found to be really helpful in my own life, but which I also think has a lot of practical applications in life and in the creative process, which is the whole point of this podcast.
When I was going over all of the different things we could talk about, I was going to accommodate it from all these different convoluted angles, but there’s something that you’ve shared quite a few times, which you’ve said is the core of your philosophy, and it’s this idea that yoga ultimately is about strengthening the benevolent and eradicating the malevolent.
Could you give us a quick summary of what you mean by that before we start picking its piece?
Bryan Kest: Yeah, ultimately my goal for my yoga practice was health, was me being as healthy as I can be. That was my goal. That’s still my goal. I’m feeling as amazing as one can possibly feel, I can’t imagine, that not being everybody’s goal, because that seems like the foundation of enjoying everything else would start with you feeling amazing.
As the journey progressed, I realized that a lot of, if not most, all of this well-being originates in your mind state, not in your body. In other words, having a healthy mind is the most important aspect of having a healthy body. Then we get into what is a healthy mind, and a healthy mind is a calm and peaceful mind, a mind that is not producing incessant stress and poisoning the body with stress.
So what is that? What is a peaceful mind? What is a mind that is that’s creating wonderful vibrations through the body as opposed to sick vibrations and disease producing vibrations and that is a mind that’s full of benevolence.
Benevolence means benevolent qualities. Benevolent qualities whether it’s gratitude or compassion or humility or any of these qualities that as a species you know humans admire you know it’s the qualities that all the great beings propagated you know whether it’s Jesus and non-judgment or Buddha and moderation and Mother Teresa compassion you know we’re Gandhi non-violence or Martin Luther King equality all the great ones propagated these these qualities right that these are the benevolent qualities and what I what I realized was is that these benevolent qualities are muscles or very much like muscles in other words they can be developed or they can atrophy.
So this initial search for health and wellness has led to the development of benevolent qualities and and along the way or within all this is included you know a physical maintenance practice something we need to do for our bodies but also you could call it a mental maintenance practice something that we also need to do to our minds in order to to achieve the objective of health and wellness.
Oli Anderson: Wow so a lot of people especially if they don’t do yoga they assume that yoga in its modern form at least is just a physical thing but actually what you’re talking about is it’s a mental practice as well maybe fundamentally and primarily that is the main purpose of it.
I found in my life that when I do yoga and I you know push myself to the edge and I have to I don’t know if I if I can’t do a certain pose initially I have to keep doing it until I can do it. A lot of the things that I learn by going through that process are just about letting go of all these doubts and uncertainties and a lot of the malevolent qualities I guess that stop me from seeing things clearly. Do you think that’s a fair assessment of the philosophy you’re sharing?
Bryan Kest: Yeah that certainly can be one way to describe it and because there’s multiple ways you can describe this and you probably seven billion ways you know considering there’s seven billion of us and we all have a unique perspective but but I believe it is true what you said you know I mean it’s in the West we’ve looked at yoga as a physical practice but that is not what yoga has ever been until it morphed into that in the Western world but you know if you go to India you know 99.999 % of all of yoga there it’s not physical it’s devotional practices and meditation practices which means which means practices that address your mind state and you know it’s not surprising that all the great beings that walked on this planet didn’t address the physicality they address the mentality and it’s not surprising now that modern medicine is telling us that 90 to 95 % of all physical disease is coming from mental stress you know maybe these yogis understood you know what what modern medicine is understanding now if you really really want to be healthy and well you have to address your mind state.
Oli Anderson: I think everything in our lives does ultimately start with our mindset and the way that we see ourselves or the way that we relate to ourselves and so if we have an unhealthy or malevolent relationship with ourselves in the sense of being disconnected at some level or hiding certain parts of ourselves from ourselves because of shame or guilt or trauma or whatever if we’re fragmented in that in that way then it ends up impacting our lives as a whole because what’s we don’t see the world as it is but as we are and so if we don’t understand that and we don’t have some kind of devotional practice in our lives like yoga or creativity or anything else that’s just gonna impact everything that we do so it’s something else that I’ve heard you say or read you write somewhere is that we should ultimately take our yoga off the mat how does that feed into all this stuff that I’m saying?
Bryan Kest: Well you know the yoga practice that yoga the yoga practice is called yoga practice for a reason you know you’re you’re practicing something that supposedly you know you’re gonna get good at you know that’s why you’re practicing it to to strengthen it to get better at it and because you want that practice that thing you’re getting better at to affect you at all times so that you that yoga practice is created to transcend the yoga studio and permeate your life it’s created to develop.
It’s like if you if you are in the gym and you are strengthening your bicep you know you go to the gym and you’re doing bicep curls to strengthen your bicep that strong bicep not only helps you lift that weight but that strong bicep helps you in so many different things in your life – it helps you pick up groceries it helps you pick up children it helps you pick up grandchildren you know the bicep that you develop in in the gym helps you in your life and and that’s the same thing with everything we’re doing in yoga.
Actually, in yoga the whole reason that we’re doing that is to improve the scenarios of our life to increase the benevolence within all the moments and scenarios of our life so yeah we are we are doing it in yoga in order to strengthen our ability to do it outside of yoga you just we need a place to practice that’s why they call it yoga practice.
Oli Anderson: So what when we do in a yoga session then and what quality specifically would you say that we’re developing that can help us with life so you’ve already mentioned a few you said kind of gratitude humility and I would add acceptance what what kind of things do you think we’re like ultimately practicing in that yoga session yoga practices.
Bryan Kest: Well you know in order for this to be physically healing as well in order for your body to benefit from what you’re doing you have to also be developing those benevolent qualities and, you know, you could you could say one of the qualities is awareness you could say one of the qualities is gentleness right you could say one of the qualities is focus You know you and yeah you can say hey you know compassion and gratitude and humility and acceptance.
These are all the qualities that you have to work on in order for this to be healing listen You know There’s universal laws that you become aware of that you just start to notice that one of the laws is The harder you are on anything the faster you destroy it Right, this is a universal law. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your automobile or your marriage or your body The harder you are on anything the faster you destroy it, right?
So right there listen if you know that if you want to live as long as possible and you want to feel as amazing as possible The last thing on earth you’d ever want to do is push your body hard because the harder you are on anything the faster you destroy it Right so right there Right there Basically, Western Fitness has turned upside down and inside out Right because all the Western Fitness is based on pushing and no pain no gain and more is better And it’s this whole fitness mentality of doing more and getting more and being more in this whole thing, right? So The first thing you realize is that’s all bullshit.
Yeah That’s all bullshit. That’s all ego driven vanity driven It has nothing to do with the true objective of wellness So then what has to do with wellness if the harder you are in anything the faster you destroy it But yet at the same time at the exact same time if you avoid something then it completely atrophies So avoidance isn’t the answer and aggression is not the answer.
What’s the answer? Well, the that’s what this is what Buddha taught the answer is the middle path not too much not too little So right that middle path is called moderation Right moderation is another word for gentleness Gentleness means touch it, but don’t touch it aggressively. Don’t don’t ignore it. Don’t be aggressive gentle, right? So then you got to start dealing with this this concept of gentleness Right, which is you got to admit, you know You got to admit that that’s the number one most important quality of probably all healthy relationships on planet earth Being gentle with the people around you and you got to bring that to yourself being gentle with yourself, right?
So then okay, so then you’re looking at gentleness, right? Like what like how do you become gentle like well, you know in order to be gentle You have to start being a come aware of your actions Right, you have to develop awareness because you’ll never know if you’re being gentle if you’re not aware But you have to start paying attention to how you are in other words You can no longer act in a habitual or unconscious manner You have to start becoming aware also in order to be gentle Right that that means that you’re not gonna develop your body in a way that you would develop your body if you were aggressive.
So you’re not gonna be able to over develop your body You’re not gonna be able to over develop your muscles You’re not gonna be able to become overly flexible because you can’t do that stuff being gentle for that stuff You need to be aggressive Right, so now you’re not gonna look the way your ego wants you to look right now You’re starting to deal with ego and vanity issues now you need to develop now comes humility Right like which is your ability to get out of your ego and back off So now with gentleness comes awareness it comes humility So all these benevolent qualities need to start engaging in order for you to act in a manner that’s aligned with With common sense with universal laws.
Oli Anderson: Yeah, yeah, I love everything you just said and for me It all comes down to that like ultimately it’s about Improving our relationship with reality. So those universal laws if you’re aligned with them You have to live in a certain way and that way is going to be a stress-free Ish kind of way where you have removed unnecessary friction from your life You’re not putting blocks in your own path because of all your own ego bullshit and all that kind of thing and you’re constantly Moving forward into more wholeness or more appreciation of life because of the choices you make because you understand that the universal laws They’re not it’s not it’s not about if they’re on your side or they’re not they just something you have to accept and through that acceptance.
That’s when you can increase your health and well-being to the greatest extent possible This is where I think what you’re saying about yoga aligns with the creative processes at all so Just in case you don’t know the the main theme of this podcast is that we can use our creativity to improve our lives and the way that we do that is we create some kind of a path for ourselves to go on where we’re basically pushing ourselves without judging ourselves and allowing ourselves to grow through the current version of our ego and The ego is always always always the thing that stops us from living with those universal laws So do you think yoga in that sense is ultimately just about that?
Aligning ourselves with these universal laws so we can remove the amount of bullshit in our lives.
Bryan Kest: In a sense it is you know what what yoga really is about is Becoming aware of the universal laws becoming aware of The truth and then once you’re aware of it then you have a choice Right if you’re not aware of it you have no choice Right you’re just going along with that as quo. You’re not really thinking for yourself.
You’re, you’re more acting out of this program that’s been implanted in you Right so a lot of people are they’re just programs either. There’s a universal Well, I don’t know if it’s a psychological law that says the more you see something the more you believe it Right so, you know, we all grow up seeing things a certain way and we start believing it without questioning it Right like like, you know, we believe what a man is or we believe what a woman is or we believe how we should be Or we believe how we should look and we start believing this is beautiful and this is not beautiful It’s all about cultural concepts, you know, it’s like it’s like people see You know, they don’t they don’t see their aging process as beautiful because we live in a culture that that honors The most ignorant and experienced and petuous group of people on earth the young people And we discard the wisest people in our culture, the old people.
You’ve never seen a 70-year-old on the cover of a fashion magazine or a 70-year-old starring in a TV show. It’s like we kind of discard them.
They’re no longer beautiful. And so, you know, we start believing this and then we start getting older and we think, you know, we start thinking there’s something wrong with us. And because this is the program, like we’ve been programmed all kinds of things. We’ve been programmed how to act. We’ve been programmed what’s right and what’s wrong. You know, if someone lets out a big burp, you think it’s disgusting because you’ve been told that’s disgusting.
Right? Or maybe you look at yourself in the mirror and you have judgmental or critical thoughts about the way you look because you’ve been told what’s beautiful and you don’t fit that image. So we’ve basically been programmed and then we go along with this program not questioning it. Right? And this program is creating everything we see in our lives that we complain about.
Right? But at the same time, we don’t realize that, you know, we’re contributing to it, that we’re a player in this program. And Yoga’s idea is to shine a light, to bring awareness of how you are so you can choose. Like, do I want to be that way or not? And if you decide I don’t want to be that way, then what happens is you stop feeding mental energy and unconscious loyalty to this program that’s been implanted in you.
And whenever you stop feeding something, it starves and dies. Right? So I call it killing the enemy. Right? It’s like you start recognizing this mentality that’s been placed in you by your parents, the media, the culture.
Right? And then you decide whether that mentality is optimal for you or not. And if you decide it’s not optimal, then you stop feeding that mentality. And if you stop feeding it, that mentality starts to starve and die because the universal law says if you give it food, it becomes strong.
And if you don’t, it starves and dies. Right? So in yoga, the idea is to shine a lighter, to become aware. Right? And that awareness creates a choice.
So yoga would never say act this way or do this. Right? That’s what religion does. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Right? Yoga is not a religion. Yoga will never say act this way, act good or act bad.
Right? Yoga says become aware of it and then decide for yourself. And according to your decisions, right, you’re going to have certain experiences. And then those experiences will allow you to make new decisions. Mm-hmm.
And the end of growth starts to happen.
Oli Anderson: Wow. That is so powerful and amazing and it’s so true. Like ultimately, that is all yoga or in the context of this podcast, the creative process really do.
They just increase your awareness of the way things actually are. And because so many of us are so conditioned by society, like you said, or we’ve picked up shame and stuff like that in childhood, this causes us to create a fake, unreal relationship with ourselves. A lot of people are just running around on autopilot with no understanding or awareness of what life actually is.
And that’s fine if you believe the whole ignorance is bliss thing. But I think on a long enough timeline, living in that way where you’re not in touch with yourself and you’re not in touch with life just causes you to have an emotional void inside yourself and a sense of restlessness.
And then that’s when you get on this kind of hamster wheel of just running around trying to fill a void inside you by trying to be more beautiful or being as beautiful as you think you should be because of certain standards or chasing material goods or chasing things that you don’t really want in general, just to fill the void that doesn’t even need to be there in the first place.
This thing that you’ve said about choice, do you think if people don’t make the choice for those universal laws and for alignment and all that kind of stuff, what kind of thing will happen in their life? Like how does, you know, is there an easy way to get feedback from reality about good choices and bad choices?
Bryan Kest: Yeah, well, there’s for sure, because, you know, if you’re not making choices, right, then you basically can’t steer yourself in the direction that you want to go. So, you know, you can’t, if you’re not making choices, then, you know, it’s much more difficult for you to act in a healthy manner.
So, you know, here’s a little example. And even when you are acting, you think you’re acting in a healthy manner, like some people are thinking they’re making the right choices because they’re going to the gym or they’re going to school to become a doctor or something where, you know, they’re going to have this great career and make a lot of money or whatever.
Even when you think you’re making choices, a lot of times you’re not making choices because those choices that you’re making are part of the program that was implanted in you. In other words, you’re making choices you were told to make instead of making your own choices, right? Because you were told that, you know, money is success.
So, you were told that, you know, big muscles is health. So, you think you’re making choices. People will say, I’m making choices. I’m getting up and going to the gym every day, you know, but the question is, are you really making choices or those choices made for you according to the culture that you grew up in? You know, one of the examples I give is that, you know, you would not even know, if you grew up on a deserted island, you would not even know that you’re fat and ugly.
Yeah, thank heavens. But you understand what I mean? Like everything you think about yourself is not really what you think about yourself. It’s what they told you to think about yourself.
Yeah, 100%. Like everything that you are or you learned or you want might not actually be who you are and what you want, but it might be what they told you you are and what you should want. And so, you know, that’s where the unfulfillment comes in, right? That’s where you talk about, you know, you were talking about this emptiness in you. I say it’s like people running around trying to fill a hole that’s not even there.
They just been convinced it’s there. You know, listen, since the time that you grew up, I mean, if you grow up in a Christian society, Catholic society, right? I mean, basically, you’re born a sinner, right? Like you’re fucking tainted from birth.
Right? You’re born a sinner. And then all along the way, you’re constantly being told you’re not good enough. You’re not pretty enough. You’re not young enough. You’re not rich enough. You’re not strong enough.
You’re not successful enough. It’s like that’s our society. That’s the rat race. It’s like more we always need more like it’s never good enough. It’s probably why you know my country leads the world in destroying the world.
Right because we actually believe that more is better. And you know we’re constantly in school. We’re graded.
Right? We’re graded. Like you’re good.
You’re not good. It’s like we’re constantly being told you know they actually you know when you watch television your eyeballs don’t move. And when your eyeballs don’t move you’re in a very receptive place.
It’s called alpha level. And you know they say the average 30 year old American has already watched 2 million commercials. And basically every commercial says the same thing.
Right? It says you’re not good enough the way you are. You’d be much better if you had this. They even hire psychologists to design the commercials to make you feel so inadequate about yourself.
You have an urge to buy their product. So we’re constantly being told we’re not good enough. And we end up believing it. Right. And so now that now and that was so we’re trying to we we run around trying to fill this hole that’s not even there. Yeah.
Right. Trying to get trying to trying to get to a place to make us happy. But that happiness doesn’t come from getting somewhere because as soon as you get somewhere then you want something else because your mentality is I’ll be happy when.
At one point or another everybody anybody who really wants to be happy which is really the foundation of health. Right. Because happiness means that you’re OK with what is and that’s the opposite of stress. Right. And in order to be happy at one point or another everybody’s going to have to say I’m fucking cool just the way I am.
And and all we’re saying in yoga is let’s start realizing that right now.
Oli Anderson: Yeah. Yeah. 100 percent. Like ultimately what you’re talking about is this idea that judgment is the main problem actually. So there’s the universal laws that we talked about reality whatever you want to call it. That’s benevolent if you can accept it and work with it and flow with it. The only thing you can do with reality is accept it. And that applies to the reality of ourselves as well. But for whatever reason we get conditioned by the world with all this like horse shit to start judging ourselves judging the world itself judging reality itself. And we become identified with and attached to that judgment.
And actually that is what causes 100 percent of the problems in our lives because it stops us being happy by by causing us to not accept what is in the way that you’re talking about. That’s a great way to say it. Definitely.
Yeah. So with the yoga thing then and the creativity thing I think that the main benefit of yoga and the creative process is that it helps us to detach from the identity that we have created for ourselves to run from our own emotional bullshit and to uphold the conditioning of society in the world that we’ve been brought up in.
In your yoga videos there’s a shiva’s ner at the end obviously that’s the final pose anyway. You always say you say in the video that this pose is the most important one and it’s about dissolution or about dissolving.
I always think in that moment where I get that feeling of dissolution or whatever that the thing that dissolves is that identity that is causing me to judge myself and judge life. And when you step away from that you can experience just benevolence in itself. Do you think that is bullshit or is it something that actually you know people can practice in their lives which is just stepping away from their own identity ultimately.
Bryan Kest: Yeah that is the practice of yoga and I certainly feel that it’s not just me you know I mean the millions and millions and millions and millions of people who practice yoga must feel the same and yeah that’s that’s it but you know the thing is that you just have to understand that you know what what you’re saying is is you know definitely true but you know what you’re saying is true is what you’re saying is it’s not as easy as it sounds. Right and so that’s it’s the problem is not with what you’re saying. The reason you have a podcast is you know on this topic is because you know you want to espouse this truth.
And the reason people listen to it is because they want to hear the truth. The issue is not with what you’re saying and with what you’re supporting. The issue is that to acquire what it is that you’re espousing is really fucking hard. Yeah right that’s the issue that’s where you lose people it’s not the concept right we put Jesus on a pedestal we put Buddha on a pedestal we put all these great beings on a pedestal because we agree with what they’re saying. Right but very few people actually can follow the teachings because agreeing with it and living it are two different things. Like who doesn’t agree with the Ten Commandments right I mean it’s the most agreeable thing that’s ever been written.
But but tell me who have you ever met that can live the 10 Commandments? Yeah Yeah, right? I mean so this is the problem the problem is not agreeing with it the problem is living and that’s where we start losing people because it’s not easy to start disempowering these programs and these habit patterns that we’ve cultivated this level of denial that we’re in you know everybody knows it’s difficult to break addictions and you’re talking about breaking the largest addiction of someone’s life can you imagine the ferocity of the withdrawal symptoms they would have to go through nobody wants to deal with that shit hmm hmm what is the choice you have to deal with it if you want to be free.
Oli Anderson: Yes yes this is the thing so I suppose that the obvious thing to say there is this is why it’s called yoga practice again right you have to keep getting back on that mat to remind yourself who the fuck you are because ultimately if you don’t then you get off the mat you go out and start living your life again and before you know it the world starts creeping in all of the bullshit that that entails your relationship with yourself that caused you to be addicted to a certain version of yourself in the first place isn’t really going to improve unless you’re actively working on it in a disciplined way or whatever.
So what can we do to not make the process easy but to ensure that we you know actively engaged in it as much as possible both when we’re doing yoga sessions obviously or some other equivalent that has the same purpose or just in life in general on a day-to-day basis like how do we make this easier and let go of this addiction to our personalities that so many people have?
Bryan Kest: Well first of all the way I look at it is it’s just that it’s like a muscle you’re developing a muscle and that’s what you say you have to get back on your yoga mat every day it’s just it’s the same as developing a muscle if you know in order to develop a muscle you have to use it quite often and if you if you use it it will develop but if you stop using it it will atrophy so you know there that’s what yoga practice is it’s the incessant development of the nevel and qualities right because if you don’t keep developing them if you don’t keep using them they will atrophy that’s number one so yeah you you make an effort to meditate on a daily basis right so you’re constantly developing these and growing them deeper and stronger and so forth but another thing that happens is you you start to develop it to such a degree where you notice that you’re actually able to continue developing these qualities even outside of your yoga practice right so maybe let’s for an example you’re looking at yourself make it in the mirror and you start having judgmental or critical thoughts about the way you look right and because of your yoga practice and the awareness you try to develop in yoga all the sudden outside of yoga you’re looking at yourself make it in the mirror and you’re having judgmental or critical thoughts about the way you look and it would be very difficult for you to imagine anything more sick and self and stress producing than self-loathing right so you’re doing something really harmful right you’re judging and criticizing yourself right and so now in now you become aware you’re like oh my god I’m judging and criticizing myself right now the awareness is there because of what you worked on in yoga you’re developing awareness so that now that awareness helps you start noticing things outside of yoga.
Wow I’m judging and criticizing myself then once you have that awareness I’m judging and criticizing myself then you start to have a choice do I want to continue judging and criticizing myself or not if you decide not to right then you pull your mind away from these sick tendencies and what happens is these tendencies start to become weaker because you’re no longer empowering them with mental energy and unconscious loyalty right so now you’re starting to disempower sick tendencies and that’s happening due to the awareness that you created on your yoga mat but now it’s helping you off your yoga mat maybe you’re maybe you’re driving to work and you and you you start noticing that you’re rolling in angry thoughts or fearful thoughts or sad thoughts and you say hey do I want to roll in these stress producing qualities no so you pull your mind away right so what happens is is you start disempowering the shit that’s hurting you but it’s not easy to do because you’re addicted to rolling in these qualities right so pulling your mind away is not easy like you you just start that you start thinking I just want to have like you start thinking some angry thought like you know this is what I’m gonna do to this person next time I see them because because they hurt me and then you try to pull your mind away from these angry thoughts and you realize it’s not easy because you’re really getting off on your angry thoughts.
Oli Anderson: Do you think so we’ve talked a lot about how this addiction to the ego personality whatever a lot of the causes for that social things so it’s society basically wants us to think of ourselves in a certain way so we judge ourselves according to these social standards but I think most addiction as well is actually fueled by shame or trauma do you think yoga can help with that stuff so for example if we have a lot of underlying shame that we’re not good enough because mommy or daddy or whoever it was in our childhood told us that we were useless for whatever reason that’s going to create a version of ourselves that will become addicted to to protect us from that shame and then if society says oh you know you’re fat and you’re ugly or whatever because of certain standards if we have that shame then we’re more likely to believe the social bullshit yoga I think can deconditioners at both levels the social stuff and the self-hypnosis that comes with it.
Bryan Kest: Yeah well though the shame that someone experiences due to you know whatever they went through in their life whatever they heard from their culture or from their parents or whatever you know that shame is manifesting in something called thoughts right though that shame is those are the type of thoughts that this person is having so what happens is in yoga the idea is to start becoming aware of these thoughts right become aware of these feelings and start to disempower them by not indulging in them but so that’s you have to go to where this stuff’s coming from. This stuff is coming from this this program that’s been implanted in you. What you have to do is recognize it because you buy into that program.
Once it’s recognized then you have the choice. Do I want to continue with this type of mentality? If the answer is no then all you got to do is pull it’s now it’s not easy to do but all you have to do is pull your mind away from that stuff because that stuff has a certain kind of food and the food is your mental energy you give it. It’s like every time you indulge in an angry thought you strengthen anger. Any time you indulge in a shameful thought you strengthen shame.
So most of us are constantly walking around every day strengthening the things that are hurting us. We’re indulging in this mentality and the yoga is about creating the awareness that you’re doing it because once you have that then you can pull your mind away. So let’s say you’re having a shameful thought or you’re having an angry thought or a fearful thought and you start to become aware you’re like holy shit I’m having an angry thought. So what you do is you pull your mind away from that angry thought and you place your mind on anything in your life that’s happening right now. You become present in your life right? If you’re walking if you’re walking you just start feeling your feet touch the ground like it’s that simple. If you’re breathing notice that you’re breathing. In other words bring your attention back to what’s happening in your life right now. Pull your attention away from rolling in these six tendencies and these six tendencies become weaker and weaker because you’re no longer rolling in that. And the thing that I like about this is that two things number one you know that’s the way everything that we’ve ever seen in our life works right?
If you stop feeding it dies right? So number one it’s not like you have to believe in anything esoteric. I mean this is this is law of nature this is what you’ve seen your whole life right?
If you stop feeding it will die. That’s number one. Number two is no one’s ever said another way to get rid of this shit. The only other alternative anybody ever gives is drugs whether you whether the psychologists are prescribing drugs or your self medicating with drugs and alcohol. It’s like even modern psychology is moving in this direction it’s called mindfulness.
You know as I was married to a PhD in psychology you know and she’s telling me hey Bryan this is the way modern psychology is moving it’s towards mindfulness because they don’t even have answers. This is what I love about it is that it’s so practical and yet it’s so reasonable. It’s like and there’s no other alternative like what else are you supposed to do? You have to recognize it and stop giving it fucking food.
Yeah yeah yeah. And no one’s ever mentioned another way.
Oli Anderson: Yeah there is no other way because actually what you’re talking about is just embracing reality at a fundamental level which is the the present moment and been connected to yourself and everything else and all this benevolence and everything you talked about.
It’s fundamental. The reason that a lot of mainstream or whatever word we want to use scientific theories just end up giving people medication and stuff like that is because it’s just dealing with the symptoms. The medication will help you deal with the symptoms of disconnection.
It will help you deal with the disconnection itself and what you’re talking about and what we’ve learned from yoga and increasing awareness is about becoming aware of the thing you need to be aware of in order to not be disconnected anymore. That’s basically it. I know you’ve got to go in a few minutes.
I got one more question that’s kind of linked to what you just said. So to heal ourselves and to become reconnected or to start moving towards wholeness again in ourselves and life and ETC we need to get into the present moment but one thing that I’ve found has really helped me with yoga is giving myself a direction to move in that is challenging. So on the yoga map, in fact I think in one of your videos you said challenge yourself without judging yourself. I think both in yoga and in life that approach can actually speed up or make it easier to some extent to deal with a lot of the things that we’re talking about here in this conversation.
So in a yoga session if there’s a difficult pose or whatever and you can’t do it the first few times you’ve given yourself a goal for the next couple of sessions or however long it takes to keep getting up again when you fall and to basically keep doing it until you can do it. If you can’t do it that’s okay but you’ve given yourself a direction to moving. In life it’s the same thing we can set ourselves a vision, we can set ourselves a goal and as long as it’s real it’s not something that we’ve chosen as an escape from all of our shame and you know or as a way of reinforcing the social conditioning we can move forward while still being present if that makes sense and understand life a lot more because we’re actually in motion we’re not just trying to stay the same i.e. in our ego we’re growing through the edge and we’re pushing our ego to be more aligned with reality than not.
Does that make sense? So the question is how do we move forward in life while still being present and using this kind of mindset that you’re talking about to unlearn all of the stuff that stops us from being who we truly are?
I know that’s a big question.
Bryan Kest: Yeah well you know I would just get rid of that mentality of just needing to move forward with our life. I would get rid of the mentality of needing to get anywhere because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with who you are and where you’re at. The idea that we need to get somewhere I think is part of what’s creating the rat race that’s got everybody sick. Everybody’s complaining about the rat race. Everybody’s running around like a chicken with their head cut off trying to fill a hole that’s not even there.
We just been told that’s there. I think the challenge is not in acquiring something. The challenge is in realizing we don’t need to acquire anything because we have everything that we need. There’s a challenge. If you’d like to be challenged then you’re going to be really happy in yoga because there’s a lot of challenges. But the challenge isn’t what you think it is.
The challenge isn’t to acquire something or get somewhere. The challenge is to make it completely okay to be who you are and where you’re at. If you can be who you are and where you’re at fully, if you don’t need to get anywhere because there’s nothing fucking wrong with you, why would you need to get anywhere if you thought that you were perfect? If you didn’t think that you were broken why would you need to change anything? If everything is perfect then what’s wrong?
Why do you need to change anything? So in yoga the idea is not to need to get somewhere. The idea is to start realizing that you’re perfect the way you are. In your perfection, in your unique perfection of who you are, as a human you have certain desires. What are those desires? Maybe the desire is to become a doctor. Maybe the desire is to become an athlete. Maybe the desire is to write.
Maybe the desire is to have a podcast. As a human you have a lot of desires. And there’s nothing wrong with moving forward with those desires.
But it’s not like you have to challenge yourself to accomplish something. You just are loving yourself doing what you love. And whatever happens in the process is beautiful and perfect because that’s also who you are and where you’re at at that moment.
Oli Anderson: So when we go to the edge, the way that I see the edge is that we set out with a load of ideas about how life should be, who we should be, should, should, should, should, should. And then we challenge ourselves in life or in a yoga session or in the creative process or wherever it is.
And all that actually happens is all of our ideas end up meeting these universal laws that you talked about right at the start. And by those ideas meeting life itself, we just end up unlearning a lot of the bullshit that we have become identified with and addicted to that stopped us from accepting ourselves in the first place. And so that’s why I found the challenge yourself without judge yourself thing so important because have you heard, there’s a quote by Mike Tyson.
He says, “man wasn’t made to be humble, but to be humbled”.
And I think a lot of the time that’s how I’ve experienced yoga or life itself. Like I set out with all these ideas about how amazing I am or whatever. And then boom, life just comes along and the idea meets reality and you’re just left with something true.
And I think the only truth like you said is just the stuff that you can become aware of that was there the whole time.
Bryan Kest: That’s a great way to say it. That’s just, yeah, like I said, like we started this conversation, there’s, you know, eight billion ways to say it, but you know, you, you, you, hopefully we’re all saying the same thing in our own way. But yeah, that’s, that’s definitely another way to put it for sure.
You’re going to, you know, in your, in your desire to achieve the program that’s been implanted in you, you’re going to start to have to, you know, you’re going to, unless you’re in total denial, you know, you’re going to come across the stumbling blocks to help you recognize that you’ve been programmed.
Oli Anderson: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s, that’s it. That’s how I should have said it.
So when you do these difficult yoga poses, ultimately all you’re doing, you just put in a stumbling block in your own way, in your own path so that you can reveal what’s actually true and what’s not. And if you can do that without judgment of yourself, then you’re actually going to be more present because you’re going to experience the truth or the universal laws that were there the whole time.
And ultimately that’s what it’s all about. I think Bryan, we’ve been talking for ages and basically I’ve run out of time, but I just want to say thank you for coming on here and sharing all this stuff. I’ve found it like very insightful. Love your energy and all that stuff. Have you got any final words or anything like that that you want to share just to sum this up and can you just remind people where they can find you if they want to, you know, do some yoga or if they want to read your writing as well and all that kind of thing.
Bryan Kest: Yeah, we have, you know, we have so many, you know, blogs written.
I mean, like, you know, books worth of blogs written on our website, poweryoga.com. We have thousands of classes where people, you know, the idea of these classes, it’s yoga practice, right? It’s to take you through a journey of wellness while trying to implement, you know, these concepts that we’ve been talking about for an hour because, you know, you can talk about it forever, but at one point or another, you have to practice it.
You know, you have to develop the ability to stay calm in a difficult moment like calmness is a muscle.
You have to develop the humility it takes to get out of your ego and back off, you know, you have to develop the ability to be accepting of who you are and where you’re at. These are all like muscles that need to be developed.
And, you know, this is the kind of stuff we’re working on. And so it’s kind of like this, I call it a safe place to practice living, you know, so you get so good at it that one day you can, you know, it transcends the yoga mat and permeates your life. So, yeah, all these concepts are great, but, you know, it’s like a, I always say like, you know, you could go to church on Sunday morning and the preacher usually says the most amazing things. And everybody in the congregation screams, amen. Like we all agree with the preacher, but then we all go back to our life and nothing fucking changes.
Yeah, yeah. How come nothing changes? And the reason nothing changes is because you have to do more than agree with the preacher. You actually have to develop the qualities that preacher was preaching about. You can’t just agree.
That’s not enough. You actually got a set in motion. These ideas and concepts that you were agreeing with. And that’s the difficult part.
And the easiest way to do that, I believe, is to find a community that values these things. Right? Because it’s hard to be a spark in the middle of the ocean.
You keep getting put out. But when a bunch of sparks come together, you get a flame and it’s much harder to put out the flame. And that’s what community is. It’s people of like mind supporting each other in a certain mentality. So it’s easier for you to hold on to that mentality. That’s why the yogis go to the ashram and the Christians go to the church and the Jews go to the synagogue and the Muslims go to the mosque.
Because those places support a certain mentality and it makes it easier. And that’s what you’re doing. You’re supporting a certain mentality. That’s the people that are listening to you are being supported in something.
Oli Anderson: But you’re right. Ultimately, it comes down to acting on it.
And if you act with more people, then of course you’re going to get more results and it’s going to make a bigger impact on your life because other people are going to mirror you, but it’s going to make a bigger impact on everybody else that’s sharing that journey with you.
Bryan, thank you so much. Honestly, this has been amazing for me. I just love everything you just said about the sparks and the flames and everything. Bryan, thank you so much. Honestly.
Bryan Kest: My pleasure, man. My pleasure. Thanks for having me. It’s always an honor to be invited. Thank you.