In 1995, I bought Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga video. As a working mother who commuted daily from the suburbs of New Jersey to mid-town Manhattan, I had limited time for exercise. But with discipline and resolution, I squeezed the 50-minute workout into my morning routine. The long-haired, southern-California yogi performed his demanding routine shirtless. An added incentive. On my living room carpet, I stretched muscles I hadn’t touched in years of jogging and aerobics as my cat bumped against my shins and squeezed herself under my arched bridge.
Buoyed because I was no longer sore after the yoga routine, I bought the next two tapes in the series. I still hadn’t ventured into a yoga studio. Instead, I joined neighborhood women two nights a week in step class, hoping that combining yoga and aerobics would compensate for long days in the office.
Eventually my son left for college, and CDs replaced video tapes. Luckily, all three of Bryan’s routines were available on CD. I was getting older. But Bryan froze in time, gently nudging his audience to raise their feet above their head and let their nutrient-rich blood flood their hearts and brains.
Even before I retired, I added a weekly visit to a local yoga studio to my routine. One on one instructors helped me identify postures I hadn’t quite mastered, but I continued to supplement my weekly practice with the Power Yoga CDs. Bryan remained the young stud (his words not mine) as my hair slowly turned gray.
In this new century, the internet entered the equation. Bryan now had a subscription website, with streaming classes recorded in his Santa Monica studio. After a decade of promotional emails from Bryan—now teaching in Hawaii, now touring the world!—I ponied up and paid my dues. Now Bryan, live or close to it, joined me in the aging process. His long hair gone, his temples almost as gray as mine. I had a choice of instructors, but regularly chose Bryan who had mellowed with time, regularly reminding me that my practice should adapt with age.
In my sixties, I watched Bryan mature in Santa Monica while maximizing my flexibility and following his call for moderation, a routine that held me in good stead. Then the pandemic hit, and all hell broke loose. My local studio closed but, hey, that was okay. I had Power Yoga. Or did until the day I booted up my computer and the program wouldn’t load. The governor declared a lockdown. I was hiding out in a cabin in Vermont with my husband, and NO YOGA to keep me sane. Unbeknownst to me, Bryan’s studio had already closed, but in my virtual world I depended on it. In desperation, I signed up for one of the corporation yoga sites, where flawless instructors taught robotic routines against idyllic backgrounds. I missed Bryan desperately. He was funky and human and considerate of my aches and pains. You broke my yoga!!! I wrote his website. To my relief, I received a prompt response. After several weeks of fiddling, a new, more personalized website, with LIVE classes, returned to my device.
I’ve never met Bryan and don’t expect to do so, but I am approaching 70 and have just completed week 2 of his most recent yoga challenge. I’m half vaccinated, and the Vermont winter ice is cracking. Bryan reminds me regularly to meditate on those things I am grateful for. So, here’s my meditation: I am grateful for growing old with Bryan Kest.
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