Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Yoga Heritage, Vegan Muscle - Jonah Kest

Jonah Kest was born into yoga. His parents were among the first to run a yoga studio and teacher training program in the Midwest. Jonah’s father, Jonny Kest, is a well known Ashtanga yoga teacher who learned yoga from his own father and eventually passed on the tradition to him.

As part of his parents’ yoga lifestyle, they followed a plant based vegan diet on which Jonah was raised. Although he continues to follow a vegan diet, he’s got no beef with meat eaters. As he puts it, “I don’t judge anyone for their preference in diet. Everyone has different bodies and needs. I was born and raised vegan so it just happens to work well with my body.” Nutrition, like exercise in general and yoga specifically, is often about finding what works best for your body. Clearly, Jonah’s body has no trouble building muscle sans animal protein.

Do not imagine, however, that Jonah is immune to the mental and emotional struggles that you and I deal with. Discontentment and lack of self-acceptance are issues he’s encountered himself. We’ve all felt dejected at some point by failing to achieve an elusive pose. Or perhaps our practice has become an endless chase for that ever increasingly difficult pose, never leading to any sense of satisfaction or gratitude. However, through mindful yoga practice, it becomes possible “to be happy with where you are at, not where you want to be or not even where you think you should be, but where you’re at right now.” as Jonah has learned. Do not assume either that because of his family’s yoga lineage, that it does not require Jonah immense discipline and dedication to deepen his practice. “Something I’ve learned from practicing yoga, is that if you want to accomplish any specific goal or yoga pose it takes persistence, consistency and determination. If you’re not on the mat every single day how can you expect to improve?” he posits. 

You may not have been born into a legacy of yoga and might still be experimenting with your diet. But, one thing you control fully, is to get on your mat - every single day.

All photos: Instagram @kestyoga

Cheat Sheet
  • Nutrition and exercise - find what works best for your body.
  • Yoga and life - be content with where you are right now. Be grateful for what you’ve accomplished as you work towards progress.
  • Yoga and life - accomplishing goals takes persistence, consistency and determination.
  • Yoga - get on your mat every single day.

Follow Jonah Kest on IG @kestyoga

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Yogi Next Door - Chris Vargas

Photo: Instagram @diggster

Chris Vargas


Mental Health Associate/ Full-time nursing student (2 more months!)

How long have you been practicing yoga?
7 months

What was your motivation to start?
I take this boot camp class at the gym I go to. For one month, the instructor, had us do this yoga challenge, just within our workout group. When I saw how yoga started to positively affect my cardio endurance, my ability to lift, any back pains, even my mood, I started taking yoga seriously. As much as I hated the stigma that “real men” don’t do yoga, I kept at it because it offered me a physical challenge that I didn’t find elsewhere, as well as allowed me to unite my mental and spiritual health. Now I participate in these month long yoga challenges via Instagram where I get to connect with other yogis and get to be inspired in my own practice.

Favorite yoga pose?
I’m torn between Eka Pada Koudinyasana II (One legged arm balance) and Astavakrasana (Eight-angle pose). These two are my favorite because when I first began my practice, I saw these and thought, wow, what a beautiful pose that incorporates balance, strength and flexibility!

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned through your practice?
Out of all the different exercises I do, yoga is the only practice that allows me to focus my mind on my physical, mental and spiritual health. When I first approached yoga, I only wanted to increase my strength and flexibility. The more I practiced, I started to experience yoga’s added beneficial aspects like its ability to help control my anxiety. In addition, it boosted my confidence, understanding my own limitations and that with time, all will fall into place through perseverance and effort. However, the most important thing I learned was to love and accept my body for where it is at. As a guy, I’ll have moments where yeah, I wish I looked more aesthetically appealing, but then yoga reminds me that physical appearance doesn’t matter.. I don’t believe there’s any harm in trying to improve yourself, but during the journey, continue to open your heart while honoring and loving your body.

Hobbies off the mat?
I love traveling, finding adventures, getting to know people, playing piano, jammin’ out in my car, reading, playing with puppies, doing obstacle course races, cooking and of course, eating.

Personal motto?
Every day is a great day! There was a time in my life where I would do nothing but complain about anything and everything. When I started to see how it negatively impacted my relationships and my attitude, I knew I needed a change. Now every morning, I constantly remind myself that even if today was going to be the worst day ever, it’s still a great day solely based on the fact that I’m alive and able to live it out.

Favorite quote?
“Be happy for this moment, for this moment is your life.” I actually have this quote woven into my sleeve tattoo on my left arm! :D I found this quote in a daily meditation book I have that I utilize every morning, in conjunction with a 20 minute yoga flow, always ending in a short prayer to jump start my day. I love this quote because it serves as a gentle reminder to live in the present moment, because it is in that present moment, that life is happening.. take every moment in and savor it.

Advice for new yogis?
Stick with it! Yoga may not be for everybody but out of all the workouts out there, yoga is for every body. As a guy, I know that yoga isn’t widely advertised because it’s not “masculine” or it’s only for chicks who are already “flexible”. Let me say this now guys, you want to get your ass to the grass in squats? Try yoga. You want to prevent injury from all those heavy deadlifts and chest presses? Do yoga! To me, yoga is not being about being super flexible and doing all these crazy postures and what not. Yes, they are fun to try and cool to look at, but at the end of the day, just like anything else you dedicate time and effort to, you get out of your practice what you put into it. One of the most important things I have to do before every session is to set my intention, a reason why I practice. It might be dedicated to a person, an event, a quote, a thought, whatever it is… set your intention. When you set that intention, you have that goal in mind, and every time you meet that goal, you’re honoring your body and your craft, which in turn will hopefully ignite someone else’s fire.

What is yoga to you?
Yoga means to unite: my life is not exempt from devastation or inclusive to love; rather, my practice teaches me to find harmony in the midst of this chaos.

Follow Chris on IG @diggster

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Build Your Wings With DeAndre Sinette's Bakasana Workout

Photo: Instagram @deandreyoga

Work on your arm balance game by incorporating this routine from DeAndre Sinette into your practice every other day.

1. Chaturanga push-ups (arms should be at about a 90 degree angle at low position). 6 sets of 5-10 slow reps.
2. Bakasana with feet on the floor (knees pressed into armpits or as close as you can get them). Keeping arms straight, really push into the floor (make sure fingers are engaged). Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. 2-3 sets.
3. High plank. Hold for 45 seconds to 1 minute. 3 sets.
4. Side plank. Hold for 30-45 seconds. 3 sets.

Test your bakasana every few weeks to gauge progress. Increase reps and hold times for more intensity.

DeAndre is a yoga teacher specializing in handstands and arm balances based out of Dallas, Texas. Follow him on IG @deandreyoga

Thursday, July 2, 2015

New School Yogi - Gerald Saluti

Photos: Instagram @geraldsaluti

At 47 years old, Gerald Saluti is in the best shape of his life. This despite multiple sports injuries from his college years and the responsibilities of being a father of 6, husband and primary caregiver to his wife, and a hectic yoga teaching schedule.

Gerald played basketball and tennis in college which led to several injuries; including, ruptured achilles tendons, ACL reconstruction, 11 pins and screws on his right ankle and 18 pins and screws on his right hand. Through his yoga practice, Gerald’s been able to “overcome the limitations these injuries put on my body.” No longer pushing his body for a competitive edge, he now works towards building balance with his asana practice, which he refers to as his “moving meditation.”
His search for balance, however, is not solely a physical endeavor. Yulady, Gerald’s wife and favorite yoga teacher, has endured 26 surgeries in their 11 years of marriage. As her caretaker, Gerald helps her and their family navigate through the “countless set-backs and disappointments” her condition presents. This requires both incredible strength, to push through the tough moments, and flexibility, to adapt to the daily fluctuations of her health. As Gerald explains it, “the interplay between strength and flexibility fosters balance.” This is an exercise he engages in daily. For Gerald, yoga is more than a metaphor for life. It is essential to his existence: “I truly would be lost without yoga.” High stress situations such as this can wear a person down. But Gerald finds daily inspiration in his tenacious wife and insists ”my mind is strong and I am constantly smiling.”

Perhaps the most impressive attribute Gerald has gained through yoga is not physical at all. Instead, it’s his mental perspective. His focus is not on himself. In his words: “The less I think about myself, the happier I am.” Self development physical or otherwise, has little significance if it does nothing for anyone other than yourself. “Yoga has helped me be a better father, husband and person in general,” says Gerald. Next time lethargy starts setting in, push through and get your ass on the mat. If not for yourself, for whoever you care about most.

Follow Gerald on instagram @geraldsaluti
Follow Yulady on instagram @yulady

Monday, June 22, 2015

New School Yogi - Kevin Hofer

Photos: Instagram @kdhoferyoga

Kevin Hofer likes being in shape and he believes in “working your hardest at anything and everything you do.” But sticking to an exercise regimen you don’t enjoy is arduous and needless. Kevin “got really sick of lifting weights and having zero fun doing it.” He now practices yoga and movement every single day. Results speak for themselves.

We don’t usually think of exercise as play. In fact, we’re more apt to refer to it as work. Being a California dude - although currently residing in Seattle, Kevin is all about having fun with his exercise. Biking, longboarding and of course yoga. “I'm just in a park playing around on my hands trying to move in new ways.” He adds, “One of my favorite parts of yoga is just that - you take it with you everywhere you go.”

There is no need to follow prescribed notions of what it means to exercise. Hitting the weight room isn’t the only way to get fit. Take Kevin’s advice and check out Dylan Werner if you don’t think yoga can make you stronger. And don’t worry if you’re not flexible, as he puts it, “yoga is the way to become flexible.”

Inspired by yoga and movement experts like Ido Portal, Dylan Werner and Patrick Beach, Kevin pushes himself daily to grow in his practice. Being a professional photographer, you might say he’s a little obsessive about capturing just the right images of his poses. So part of his daily practice is repeating poses “over and over and over” until he’s satisfied with what he sees. The final products end up on his IG feed for us to admire. It’s remarkable how much he’s progressed in just over a year.The takeaway is through the act of attempting challenging poses - safely and thoughtfully, we build the foundation we need to eventually achieve them picture perfect.

Follow Kevin on IG @kdhoferyoga
Check out his photography at

For yoga tips from Kevin and others follow my Yoga Tips board on Pinterest.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

New School Yogi - Sean Phelps

Photos: Instagram @seanphelpslife

Sean Phelps is a hair stylist, clothing designer and yogi based out of Los Angeles. Looking at these images it’s easy to think he’s physically gifted and that these poses come natural to him. The reality is that Sean has several physical challenges which he deals with on a daily basis and is slowly overcoming through his yoga practice.

As a kid, Sean fractured his left humerus bone on the growth plate leaving it two inches shorter than his right arm. He has compensated for this by using a block when performing several poses. He’s worked his way down to a one inch block to keep himself balanced out. A car accident several years ago left him with chronic back pain. His remedy, a series of warrior three poses, increasing hold times as he gets stronger. Back pain is no longer an issue. Lotus pose seemed impossible to him considering he had ACL and MCL injuries. Clearly, he’s making progress there as well.

Sean is an inspiration not only because of his impressive flexibility, balance and strength, but because he’s achieved this level of body control despite multiple physical ailments which could have easily deterred him from going deeper into his practice. The lesson here is stop using a nagging injury as an excuse to keep you off the mat and instead, let it be the catalyst to push you through to the next level.

Follow Sean on IG @seanphelpslife
Check out his yoga lifestyle clothing line

Sunday, May 31, 2015

New School Yogi - Patrick Beach

Photos: Instagram @patrickbeach

Patrick Beach is a yoga instructor and handstand expert based out of Portland, Oregon. His foray into handstands began as a challenge by his father - challenge met and surpassed. Eventually, he went from attending community yoga classes to trotting the globe teaching his own style of inversion heavy, vinyasa based yoga.

Patrick isn’t all down dogs and handstands. A self-professed sneakerhead, he’s got an eye for fashion. In fact he recently launched his own line of yoga lifestyle apparel featuring fresh, joggers, shorts, and tees. Check them out at Looking for a soundtrack for your yoga practice? He’s got you. Browse the diverse and extensive collection of playlists on his Spotify account to find just the right vibe.

Follow Patrick on IG @patrickbeach
Check out his complete collection of workout videos on Cody

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

New School Yogi - Dylan Werner

Photos: Instagram @dylanwerneryoga

Dylan Werner is a yoga teacher and advanced movements expert based out of Los Angeles. A former firefighter with a background in wrestling, martial arts, and rock climbing. Initially lured to yoga by the prospect of meeting girls, which he did, he fell in love with it and developed a dynamic, ever evolving practice.
Unsure if yoga practice alone will give you serious muscle toning and power? Dylan is your answer. He emphasizes true strength; a combination of strength, flexibility, and balance. It would be impossible to achieve the advanced poses displayed here without it. If you’re looking to build a little true strength yourself, check out his True Strength series on Meeting girls? That won’t be a problem.

Follow Dylan on IG @dylanwerneryoga
Check out his complete collection of workout videos on Cody