World-renowned yoga instructor, Jonah Kest, is visiting Bala Yoga to lead three yoga workshops in just a few short weeks. Born into a family of yoga pioneers (father Jonny Kest and uncle Brian Kest), Jonah has been practicing yoga since before he can remember. Not only has he had the opportunity to learn from some of the best, Jonah has had the gift of leading a yogic life from day 1. Gratitude and mindfulness are inherent aspects of who he is, as well as the leading forces behind his teaching. From April 21-23, Jonah will be bringing his teachings to the Bala community, inspiring us to trust the process and to have fun as we practice on our mats, in community. Read on for our interview with this inspiring yoga leader, and sign-up here to experience his teachings for yourself.
You were raised in a family of contemporary yoga legends. Tell us more about your upbringing and what it was like to grow up in this way.
I was always around yoga, whether it was on the shoulders of my dad while he walked the yoga room, or running around his retreats and conferences when I was little. One thing I remember is we always had a meditation and gratitude circle before we went to bed with my two brothers. These habits of a daily meditation and gratitude practice were something I really took with me into my adult years.
You are a plant-based eater. Can you tell us more about that lifestyle, why you chose it and what it has brought to your life?
The vibration within ones body, with a plant based diet is lighter, higher, and generally free of stagnation and inflammation. You just feel better!
I was raised a vegetarian until I was 10 years old, and then my whole family switched to Veganism. I didn’t really choose it, it was all I knew and fortunately my mother was an amazing cook so I never felt any craving towards animal products. I’ve found there are three types of diets out there. First there is an “ego” centered diet. This is when you eat based upon your addictions and cravings. Second there is a “health” centered diet where you eat for your own optimal health. Lastly, there is a “heart” centered diet and this is where everything you choose to eat is with compassion and took as little suffering as possible to get to your plate. For me, diet is one of the biggest doorways to spirituality.
Now that you are an adult yourself, how has your yoga practice changed and evolved?
My practice is a mirror. The foods I nourish myself with, the relationships I choose, the spaces between what happens in life and how I choose to react to them, are all part of my evolution. I can use the same guidelines as I do for my diet.
At first, I had an ego centered practice – very physically focused – where I was all about getting into the perfect pose. I was constantly comparing & competing and trying to win at the “posture race”. After that, I shifted into a breath centered practice where the ego was still there, but I just gave more importance to my breath. Everything else seemed to fade away. Now, I aspire every day to hold a heart-centered practice in high regard – this is where with each posture I try to generate loving kindness.
I know now as an adult that I must come back to it each and every day for real growth and healing to occur.
We all have goals, and we are curious to know some of yours! What are you working on both on or off the mat these days?
I’m currently partnered with the clothing brand, Spiritual Gangster. They have been a tremendous platform for me to share the gifts of yoga. We are currently doing pop-up yoga classes across the country raising money for Feeding America. For me, that will include service. I believe that selfless service is necessary to progress. I look forward everyday to connecting with and helping more people.
We are excited to host you at our studio this April, what can we expect in the upcoming workshops?
I believe yoga classes are really designed to give you direct feedback. You can expect to receive the gift of being witnessed, listened to, and really loved! I believe this is why students keep coming back to yoga, because it is the one place that really does give us that honest direct look at who we are, as we are.
I hope to inspire real growth and self transformation through storytelling, themes, and great music.
The plan is to help you get out of your own way and be happy! I am so excited and honored to join your community.
If there is one thing that you hope people take from your teachings, what is it?
The biggest teaching in all of yoga that I share is to trust that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.
Sign Up for Jonah Kest’s Weekend Workshops, April 21-23 HERE