Lessons from David Keil of Yoganatomy

 In Practice

One of my big dreams came true this month. Something I have been hoping would happen ever since I opened Live and Breathe Yoga six years ago. David Keil finally made the very long trip from Miami, Florida to our wee studio in Townsville, North Queensland. David has been the biggest influence over my practice and my teaching ever since I first studied with him back in 2005 when he was my anatomy teacher. David is the teacher that introduced me to the Mysore method of learning ashtanga yoga. He taught me how to breathe. He moved me into intermediate series after years of working on primary series. He always demanded my best and more, even when I didn’t believe I had it in me. He gave me confidence in my own practice and in my teaching by keeping it simple and always keeping it real. He is also the teacher that never lets me get away with ANYTHING. And boy do I try! haha But he does it with such compassion and kindness you don’t even realise he’s doing it!

This intensive at the end of March was no exception. David reminded me, and I think all of us (in regards to being on and off the mat), to stop getting caught up in the stories I tell myself, about myself, and the world around me. Most of those stories aren’t true, either haven’t happened or are in the past and are causing a lot of unnecessary suffering. Like the story I tell myself every time I get to Mayurasana (my nemesis!) that I can’t do it (because of my wrist, my shoulder, that I was pregnant and then breastfeeding and so had to stop doing it for 2 years and so I’m back to square one) I really don’t like it and it’s a stupid posture anyway (blah blah blah…see there you got the story too)! David pulled me up and stopped me from going on and on about it and just refused to let me tell him the story. And you know what…I shut up and I just did it! Bam!

Thanks so much to everyone who joined in his classes with me and the other Live and Breathe Yoga teachers. I know from talking with some of you, we have all learned so much. In fact, the teachers have put together their own favourite insights from the intensive with David for you to enjoy.

From Teacher Melissa – The three most illuminating things that stuck with me from David’s sessions are:

1. “Stop. You need to fall in love with the breath again”. So I did. I slowed down my practice – right down. It took me about half an hour to finish the Sun Salutations A and B! But it felt amazing – like coming home. I tuned back in to the meditative part of the practice and everything I love about Ashtanga again.

2. Your calves and feet are attached to your legs! (Surprise, surprise). So if you have tight/sore hammies – the issue might be in your feet and calves. Don’t skip down dog in vinyasas – find the calf stretch before jumping through. Get your feet massaged!

3. Your body is tougher and more resilient than you think. Break through the story you have built up in your head around any injuries and toughen up. You’ll be surprised what your body is capable of.

From ‘man of few words’ Teacher Harry:

Just start where you are and do the work, and that is for off the mat just as much as on it.

From Teacher Jen – I learned a lot from David – mostly about letting go.

1. David said, “We’ve all got stories”. Stories about our injuries, why we think certain parts of our bodies “won’t” or “can’t” do particular things or move in certain ways. But we shouldn’t attach so much to those stories. They’re just stories. Sure, we can learn from injuries, but at some point we have to let the stories go, and get back to paying attention to what is happening right here, right now. For me, that’s a lesson in letting go of the past too.

2. “Jen, you need to relax.” Yep. Let go and relax into the posture. Sure we need to put in effort as we’re working on our practice, but we also need to let go of some of the tension and just let ourself relax into it a bit more. Another lesson in letting go 🙂

3. In regards to my questions relating to injuries and sticking strictly to the Ashtanga sequence, that is, “Do I have to do posture “A” (which I am currently unable to do) before I am “allowed” to do posture “B” (which seems to relieve pain). David responded, “Who said that was a rule? Is that your rule?” From that I realised you need to do what is right for YOUR body, not what you think you should be doing according to perceived rules as yoga is here to help us. Yep, another lesson in letting go…of self imposed rules.

David Keil Lives and Breathes Yoga Australia

David Keil Lives and Breathes Yoga Australia

So what insights did you have from David’s intensive? We’d love to hear from you. Let us know in the comments below.

Thanks so much to David for coming out to visit us. We all loved your classes we are are super excited to have you back whenever you like!



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