Tag Archives: Brian Kest

Photography at yoga worshops

At the Brian Kest workshop at Thrive Yoga a month ago, I took it upon myself to be the official photographer of the event. I took my Nixon D40 and kept it near my mat. A couple of times a session, I got up and took some photos, as many as I could because so many uncontrollable factors (and my own inexperience) can cross up a photo. You can see a selection of the shots at the Thrive Yoga Facebook photo gallery

Kest was cool with the distraction of a flash and shutter going off. Susan told the people that if they objected to any of their photos that showed up on Facebook, they could drop her an e-mail and we would remove it. I made a point of taking lots of shots of student greeting Kest after class. Several people specifically requested photos as mementos. Saturday class was more packed and it was really hard to move around. For the workshop weekend, I positioned my mat in a spot in the corner that allowed me a little more leeway because it was “leftover space” — no one could fit another mat in there. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, it became so hot and humid that the lens started fogging up and everything took on a halo-like glow. I caught it on Sunday and could wipe it clean with a towel, but I was afraid that I would scratch the lens.

There were times when I did not feel comfortable taking pix. For instance, during the Long, Slow and Deep (LSD, get it!) session on Saturday afternoon. People were really zoned into their experience. Besides, by the time, we had actually tunneled into the sequence and deep restorative poses, I didn’t know if I could get up. And if I got up, whether I would be able to get back down again and in the same mind and body set. I decided that meditative sets were off base (well, the whole practice is meditative, but you know what I mean).

I don’t have any other lenses so I had no way to get around the limited anlges and focus depth. Susan had commented that I tend to show panoramic views of the whole (really a large segment of) class. I tried to focus in on individuals or smaller groups. As evident in this blog, I am working on a series of photos that concentrate on isolated shots, a hand, a foot, clasped hands in a bind. Rather than looking at the whole pose and the full practitioner, I am focusing on a small slice of practice — a kind of drishti.

There is this obsessive idea of the perfect pose in much of the Western practice of yoga, that you have to get the alignment just right, find your edge with ease and grace. So we want to see lanky models pose with perfect lighting. That’s why I like the isolation shots because there is no presumption of perfection. The foot of a novice on the mat is just as eloquent as the foot of a master. It tells a lot of things. My daughter, for instance, saw a picture of a foot and hand on a mat and immediately noted that the ball of the foot was slightly raised, putting more weight on the outer edge of the foot. In yoga, you’re supposed to distribute the weight over all “four corners” of the foot.

I find myself really draw to this subject matter. In part, I am grappling with words to describe the experience and frequently coming up short. Photography offers another approach, more spontaneous, direct, succinct. But you’re only working with the surface, which is only the first layer of the senses.

Taking pictures is a great excuse for stopping in the middle of a demanding vinyasa and taking a breather. It was a demanding practice so I welcomed the opportunity to get out of more hard stuff. I also welcomed the chance to get around and look at other people’s practices more closely. It was enriching to see the diversity of experience and ease on display.

Special events in October – a milestone

Now that Yoga Month has come and gone, we can get on with our regular practice. Shiva Rea is coming back to the DC area in October 9-10 at Flow Yoga. This will be one of the largest mega-classes this year because Flow will probably hold the event in an outside site to pack as many yogis, shoulder to shoulder, into a limited space. Sign up early (if you still can) and go early.

Photo: Brian Kest yoga class at Thrive Yoga - Brian speaking
Ganesha's playfulness matched Brian Kest's humor

I will be looking forward to the Brian Kest workshop at Thrive Yoga on October 23-25. A leading advocate of Ashtanga yoga on the West Coast, he has been a symbolic bennchmark for me. When I started out doing yoga five years ago, I used to watch the free yoga workouts on my cable service. For a while, it was one of Brian Kest’s videos. But they were so demanding for me that I could never get beyond the opening sequence before pooping out. The cable service rotated the video to other yoga instructors so I never got a chance to catch up with Kest’s pace. Of course, it took me a couple of years to just make it through a full vinyasa session.

Now I think I can handle it. That’s pretty amazing considering that I turned 60 last week. And I look at the coming decade of my life as even more challenging and fulfilling than previous ones because I am a more whole and healthy as a person.

Yoga on demand – visual confirmation for the learner

I have purchased one DVD about yoga in the past two years. But since I currently take Comcast‘s digital cable service for my home Internet access and TV viewing, I have access to scores of yoga videos. These videos change about once a month so there is a constant rotation of instructional material. Most videos comes from Wai Lana, Yoga Zone [MLS: YogaZone no longer exists, though you can probably still find some video cassettes discounted on the Web somewhere.] or Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga. Some of the other channels way also have yoga programming, and they may have other instructors’ videos for short periods.

The advantage to On Demand is that I can call up the video anytime that I want. There is a special menu system that also allows you to access movies, TV specials and features. I have yet to see a yoga video that I was dying to have and wanted to keep it for the future. It is a good way to have visual confirmation of poses and the flow between positions. That can be hard to get from a book or an audio CD. Even in yoga class, I can’t always confirm that I am following the instructions correctly.

Digital service does add up on my monthly bill from Comcast, but my wife really likes the Spanish programming, including CNN in Spanish and programming from Spain and Argentina, so I would still be paying a hefty bill, no matter what.

Today I ran across an online service that offers something similar: the Yoga Learning Center, but there’s a big difference between seeing the poses on a computer monitor and a TV screen. You can try it on for size with a one-week trial offer.