A few weeks ago one of my students asked me to write about the difference between my work and the work of other methods of yoga.
Because of my hectic agenda at the time she asked me, I wasn’t even able to think about the concept. Although the memory of the question stuck with me and the inspiration for the response came to me at the ideal moment.
During my postseason downtime, I was at a retreat with my family, some of my students, and close friends. We were in a beautiful and mountainous region of Sao Paulo about two hours north of the capital city. The first two days of the retreat we all fasted for a total of 48 hours and the rest of the retreat we did intermittent fasting. Each day was filled with yoga and close coexistence. We shared lovely moments in the classroom, on the trails around the land of the retreat center and during few but highly celebrated meals.
On the morning of the third day, while I lead a sequence of deep forward flexions, which was the opening of our six-hour day of practice, I started to talk about the position. I explained, totally enchanted and absorbed in my experience, and explained how that specific position in my point of view was biomechanically perfect.
When I looked up, I saw the eyes of the others in the room shining brilliantly; not because they had understood my perspective but because they had been infected by my enchantment. My son and his fiance were seated in front of me and were laughing non-stop. After seeing my curious and analytic posture he explained, “Wow Dad, you are genuinely passionately in love with yoga. This is the third time in twenty-four hours that you’ve used the same sentence with the same emphasis.” His fiance agreed and continued laughing.
By the end of the day, I couldn’t get that moment out of my head. I had to agree with my son; I love yoga with all of the cells in my body. The more I practice, study, teach and the more I see results, the more my passion for this work grows.
I believe that the fact that yoga is so old and, yet at the same time, more current than ever before, makes this human creation one of the most brilliant and misunderstood in our history. In parallel, yoga manages to be an impeccable biomechanical resource for preserving functionality and a pioneer in the potential for health and longevity, which is still an understudied concept.
I think that when we talk about yoga, what comes first to mind is perfect circulation, full articular function, and deep natural relaxation. Talking about yoga is also talking about positive changes in the frequency of brain waves, mindfulness, improved focus and even spontaneous meditation which bring systemic anti-inflammatory effects and cell regeneration.
When we talk about yoga and all its benefits, we talk about elements that, when missing, are unbalanced. The effects of the imbalances are present in many modern illnesses (anxiety, depression, etc) that are being diagnosed more and more every year.
In other words, talking about yoga is talking about a longer better life, accompanied by a clear mind. It’s talking about the dream of a body that doesn’t weigh but flows. It’s talking about the true human potential that is still very much underexplored. Finally, talking about Yoga is talking about a personal source of youth or, as I like to say, having a “blue bubble” or “blue zone” to call your own and accompany you everywhere you go.
This is yoga, and this is why I love it so much. It’s a dream that goes beyond methodologies, lines or attachments to old concepts. I believe that any method can deliver these results, as long as they are aligned with the original purpose of the ancient practice of yoga. Overall, yoga is about purpose, not myths, legends or mystical and religious makeup.
I believe that all yoga positions are perfect and can deliver tangible results, as long as you find the correct route to approach them. As I always say: positions cannot be conquered, every position is a direction, and it’s up to us to move gradually toward them. We are accustomed to think about these positions as today’s destination (or even tomorrow’s destination), but what I understand from the practice of yoga is that the goal of these positions is directed towards freedom in the final phases of life.
This reflection leads me to establish the first difference between my work and the way in which other yoga has been taught. The idea of sustainability. Our changes and improvements in the classroom have to be sustainable in the long run. While the idea of sustainability is increasingly strong in our modern society, we need that concept to be a fundamental part of the way we see yoga.
At 30 or 40, we hardly think about what our life will be like at 90, but that is what yoga is about: the possibility of reaching 90 years of age (or more!) without unnecessary loss of mobility. Yoga positions are not about format; format may be a reference, but the real objective is the function that each position makes possible, enables or facilitates.
The second difference between how I teach yoga and how I see it being taught is, function above form, in all circumstances. This was one of the largest misunderstandings in the history of modern yoga. Formats of positions and general rules were imposed on students and practitioners in an abusive and unintelligent way. Open ideas have become rules and I believe that this is one of the main reasons so many people in the last decade have been dealing with so many injuries and problems related to yoga. Due to a lack of understanding of the organic and biomechanical function that each position holds or releases, teachers, students and modern yoga practitioners have been taught to prioritize form above the function, whereas my approach respects and understands the organic and biomechanical consequences of each pose and always places function above form.
Each position and its shape are unique to each individual, and can only be understood when you combine that person’s story, their accidents, traumas, biotype, genetics and body use with their age. To disregard all these factors is to disrespect nature itself. Respecting these factors means knowing how to facilitate and optimize each one and allow them to flow together in each position.
Finally, the third major differential of this method is the concept of inclusiveness. Under the still unhealthy influence of negative competitiveness, we learned that “good” is to be better than your neighbor. This led to a culture of classes with different levels and thus, leading to the idea of exclusion. At Kaiut Yoga, there are no levels, as the inclusion of different people in the same class is a fundamental piece of the method. Because of that, teachers of the method grow and evolve as they learn to adapt each class to be inclusive and beneficial for all.
I believe that, with this explanation, it is clear that the Kaiut method is not just, “another type of yoga” or a “new type of yoga”. Kaiut Yoga is absolutely traditional and conservative in its approach, and the methodology is under the strong influence of the natural human tendency to evolve. For me, evolution today presents itself as inclusion, acceptance and sustainability.
In didactic terms, Kaiut Yoga is a verbal method. Teachers rarely make physical contact with their students. This is because the beginning of this process of restoring the body’s natural mobility only happens when the student listens. And, upon hearing, one learns about this new function to be reestablished, rewiring neurological circuits that will give rise to the mind-body connection.
In the Kaiut method, the positions often don’t look like what you’ve seen in other methodologies. Not because I don’t agree with them, but because the priorities are different. In due time, all students will explore all positions in a sustainable manner.
The method also has two more important differentials. The first is that, before gaining, you want to stop losing. If you stop losing movements, over time it represents gains, and those gains are comparable to the idea of compound interest. These are results that work alone for you when you align with them.
The other difference is the fact that the practice of yoga is in alignment with nature and its nature is to be in constant evolution. Due to that very concept, the method is not and will never be aligned with the ideas, values, techniques or theories of the fitness universe. Incorporating such concepts has been one of the biggest – if not the biggest – errors of yoga in recent decades. The fitness universe delivers a body and in some aspects health, but it is also coupled with competitiveness, often superficial aesthetics and a real lack of understanding of what health looks like in the long run. Running more to be able to eat more always generates a “balance” of extremes and, between extremes, there is no balance, only instability.
In summary, the main differences between my way of teaching (the Kaiut Yoga method) and other approaches to modern yoga are:
Sustainability: Every position matters and the older we get, the more they matter. What would be the new definition of aging if you could pass 90 years old moving with the same fluidity as a 30-year-old? The offering is sustainability in mobility preserved or restored.
Function above form: Positions do not have – and cannot have – an ideal design. They are always a result of the combination of the individuals’ personal story, their body use, trauma and genetic code. A good teacher needs to learn to read all of this to be able to understand which direction they are taking. What is the shape of a particular position in your body? Each is unique to each individual. No two are alike and there is no wrong or right.
Inclusion: Regardless of your story, it is always possible to improve your quality of life. Even if at first it seems impossible, a good teacher is able to find creative, positive, inclusive and attractive solutions to preserve function. From the concept of inclusiveness, everyone can benefit from all positions, as long as they understand that there are different degrees of access. Thus, during the practice, we must always strive to work at the optimum because working at the maximum there is a reduction in the potential for results. At the optimum, you will be in sync with nature.
Nature of evolution: Nature is in constant evolution and the practice of yoga should be aligned with nature and therefore evolution. At the beginning, the aim is to diminish and overall stop all losses from happening and once that is accomplished, the process of evolution and the captivation of full human potential begins. For that very reason, the method is aligned with the longevity and health universe rather than influenced by the fitness universe.
Listen to learn: Regardless of your education – the fundamental process of learning begins with your ability to listen. The construction of diminishing and stopping losses begins with your ability to listen.
Yoga is natural health, mobility, sustainability and longevity. Kaiut Yoga is a teaching method designed for each student to receive replicable results. Kaiut Yoga is driven by long-term results and more than just a method of yoga, it is a way of living more and better every day from today into old age.
Kaiut Yoga is yoga for freedom, longevity, and full captivation of human potential.
By Francisco Kaiut
Creator of the
Kaiut Yoga Method