Three Mindsets to Create a Happier Life:

“The harder you are on something the more quickly you destroy it."

Bryan Kest


Last Friday, 40 other yogis and I lined up mat-to-mat at Empower Yoga in Whitefish bay, WI for a  yoga workshop lead by the inspiring, enlightened and pretty hilarious yoga guru, Bryan Kest.   

As Bryan entered our space, he greeted some yogis and almost instantly opened with,

"We have turned yoga into shit"....

I knew instantly that I was going to gain some insight here!

Bryan guided us through a three-hour workshop. The first hour and a half was an open and honest discussion about what yoga is, what it isn't, and how we are stuck in these negative mindsets that can only be escaped through awareness. The second half was a physical practice and a chance to practice what he was preaching.  

While it is extremely hard  to sum up all of the lessons I learned - there were so many (and the man can talk!). I truly walked away from this workshop more enlightened, more confident and less hard on myself!

Here is a little of what I learned: 


The only way to take care of something is to be gentle:

Gentleness is powerful. Whether it's a car, a relationship or your body, the only way to care of it is to be gentle with it. If we are constantly beating ourselves up with injury-ridden workouts or negative thoughts, the faster we will break down. 

One of my favorite analogies that Bryan used in the class was, 

"You don't brush your teeth to change your teeth. You brush your teeth to take care of your teeth."

We brush our teeth to make sure they don't rot and decay; the same should be true with our bodies and our minds. We should do things like yoga to take care of our mind and body, not to change or destroy them.  After all, "The harder you are on something, the faster you destroy it," he warned. 

When it comes to pushing ourselves in a yoga class, Bryan shared that we should "treat yoga like a buffet. “Eat what you want, but don’t blame the chef if you overeat!”. In other words, don't push yourself to the point of injury; take what works for you and leave the rest behind. 


You can't put hot-sauce on negative thoughts: 

"85% of the stuff in your head is complete shit. And I didn't say that, Harvard did." - Bryan Kest

In a Harvard study, scientists found that nearly 85% of our daily thoughts are the same each day. And often these thoughts are unrelated to what we’re doing.

In a separate,  recent study published in Science, Killingsworth and Gilbert discovered that almost half of our daily thoughts are completely unrelated to what we’re doing. Our minds often wander even if we are engaged in pleasurable activities such as yoga or having a conversation.

What I think Bryan and this study is getting at is that we are happiest when thought and action are aligned. When we can bring awareness to our everyday actions, even if it's as mundane as driving in the car, we can find joy instead of mindlessly going through the motions. 

My second favorite analogy from Bryan, was his "hot sauce" analogy. He compared putting hot sauce on someone's fingers to keep them from biting their nails. And then he posed the question, "How do you put 'hot sauce' on negative thoughts?"  His answer:  Awareness.

When we bring awareness to our everyday lives, we can create happiness. 


stop Freaking comparing yourself! (except he didn't say freaking):

Bryan shared the story of a body builder in his yoga class who had biceps as big as his head, and when Bryan guided the class into Downward Dog, the guys arms were shaking really badly. The body builder didn't understand why he was shaking while the small girl next to him was holding the pose quite easily. The guy came out of the pose, looking around the room, comparing himself, not understanding why it came so easily for everyone else. But what this man didn't understand was that his body is built differently. Yes - he may be stronger than anyone else in the class, but that doesn't mean that a pose that seems rather simple such a Downward Facing Dog will come easily for everyone. 

The point is: comparing is pointless! We all have different bodies - our size, range of motion, strength, length of limbs, past experiences, injuries all make us who we are. You cannot be compared, and this is what makes us unique and beautiful. 



I seriously wish I could have videotaped this workshop and shared it with all of you, but I hope just these tiny nuggets of inspiration bring you some confidence, peace and everyday joy. 


With gratitude each and every day,