When I turned four an amazing misfortune, as I would say, happened to me and my life changed completely. I was diagnosed with Legg Perthes Syndrome which is a hip disease that weakens the femur head, eventually dissolving it to nothing. It eventually grows back but not in the natural shape. It was a very painful and long four year process, and at that point my father, Francisco Kaiut, already knew that the only path I could take - if I wanted to keep the mobility of my hip - was yoga. So yoga is one of my earliest memories. However for a young boy who couldn’t even run 10 meters without limping, yoga was just a sea of pain and discomfort.
My father, of course, knew this and ever since my first yoga practice I always had all the latest video games to help distract me from the pain of yoga. Until I was 12 this was my daily life - yoga and video games. I became pretty good at both so, eventually, everything got really boring and the pain intensified to a level where I hated yoga. I really wanted to be as far from it as possible, but the few times I avoided my daily practice I remembered the crisis of pain that arose. It would make me cry in the bathroom knowing that I was the only one who could do something to help myself. I knew the help I needed could only come from inside me.
Finally, when I was 15, the pain went away, but at this point my yoga practice was habitual, normal, just part of life. I started to see it simply as hygiene, the same as brushing my teeth, but for my whole body. Years went on, I fell in love with a sport, started college and began working with my father, in my mind just being a normal teenager.
I reached my 20th birthday thinking it would be just a normal year - but it wasn't. Once again, my life changed completely. One day I was watching a documentary on TV and this man appeared talking about his hip disability that made him replace his first femur head at the age of 18. That grabbed my attention so I kept watching. The man went on saying, “the syndrome’s name is Legg Perthes.” I froze. At that moment I remembered my entire childhood, all the yoga, all the pain, and how everything was now just a part of my daily life. Having succeeded in my sport, being one of the most active people I knew, I realized that although I had the same disease as the man on TV, I had never thought of myself as having any sort of disability. And the only difference between me and that man was the yoga. At that moment something inside me changed, my mind switched and a sense of purpose filled me. At that moment I knew what I wanted to do: I wanted to share this gift, this knowledge, that for me was so habitual, with all those who needed it most.
One year has passed since that moment. One year in which my mind, my focus, my entire attention, and all my energy went in one direction: to learn. Yoga became everything for me, studying it, doing it, feeling it. I wanted to learn as much as possible in order to share as much as possible. I simply started to breathe yoga. When the opportunity to teach appeared, my father came to me and asked if I would be interested in teaching at a meditation retreat in Europe. I had very little classroom experience, but a lot of heart, a lot of history, and a lot of study, so I said yes. I prepared myself as much as I could, but 30 days from the event I was told the classes would be taught for more than 200 people, so even with all the preparation I was still going to be in a very unique environment.
On the first day of class in Europe I was walking down the stairs to the auditorium and saw around 80 people buying the equipment to do the class, I thought: “ok, this is not that far away from my Brazilian reality.” When I reached the bottom of the stairs I saw that the classroom was already full. I had the best preparation, the best teacher, the best knowledge, and the first class was a hit. People fell in love with the method and with yoga. So much so that for the second day the retreat organizers opened an even bigger part of the auditorium to accommodate the 300 people craving this yoga.
The second day started, everyone came with a big smile anticipating another class. It was a much deeper class with a lot of kneeling, all 300 people in virasana, and one of the students came to me with a scar on their knee, explaining that 6 months prior to the class he had had some sort of knee surgery. “I can’t kneel,” was the first thing I heard. At that moment something inside me clicked, for a fraction of a second I could see and feel all the practice I had done, all the speeches I heard from my father, all the yoga I had lived so far. The answer was quick: “I don’t want you to kneel, I want you to give to your brain the acknowledgment that kneeling without pain is normal and necessary, so lie on the floor facing up, and bring both knees bent to your shoulders and feel that inside your knee”. At the end of the class the same person came to me and said “knee surgeries... years of pain, and during all these years everyone told me not to feel. You told me otherwise today. It’s very weird, sounds wrong, and at the same time makes total sense. I know it is still too soon say, but I feel less pain already.”
In that moment I realized that the teacher inside me had always been there, at rest, just waiting for me to set my personality aside so my real nature - as a teacher - could take the wheel and guide me where I needed to go.
Ravi Kaiut, Kaiut Teacher, Curitiba Brazil
A few words on Ravi’s journey from Francisco:
I will break my typical silence on this blog to share a personal side to Ravi’s journey. When it comes to teaching and working, I know my brain works in a very non-linear way which makes things harder for most of my students, as well as my business partner. 😉 But, quite often I feel inside that I am right, even when I am not able to put things properly into words. I usually take the risk and move from my inner calling because this works for me. It usually ends up benefiting not only myself, but my students as well.
Having Ravi teach such a large group of people with so much complexity could have been perceived as the wrong thing to do. Heidi accepted my suggestion only because when it comes to teaching, I get to make the call in our business relationship. And, she was kind and respectful enough to surrender to it, even with butterflies in her stomach. I am super thankful for that.
The fact is, Ravi’s trajectory to this moment of immense success didn’t happen overnight. Aside from what he just shared with you, there is one piece to the story he does not even remember and I have never mentioned until now. Over 15 years ago, I was having a conversation with a couple of students at the studio about their son: a young boy, a little bit younger than Ravi at the time, that had a major complication at birth which lead to brain damage. He had a very strong spirit with lots of energy, as such one of his doctors recommended Kaiut Yoga to the parents as a potential therapeutic option. During one particularly emotional and intense conversation with the parents, Ravi was dropped off at the studio from school. He gave me a kiss and I asked him "can you please take this boy to the practice room for me." Ravi took the boy's hand and they walked together towards the main teaching room. I wanted to observe the movement patterns of the boy as they walked because most of his physical restrictions were in the lower part of his legs. But instead of seeing only that, I noticed that even without me saying anything young Ravi recognized the boy's difficulty to execute some of the ankle, knee and hip movements all together. It was a glimpse, a fraction of a second, and he read the restrictions. And instead of walking with the boy towards the stairs to the room, he naturally walked around through the grass, finding a real-time solution that would present the teaching room to the newest student without creating struggle or frustration. In that moment I understood the potential in front of me. And my first thought was that I needed to be mindful not to mess this up.
The first bolsters at my studio as well as my first sandbags were handmade by Ravi’s mom while we were a very young couple, way before he was born. So yoga was part of his environment even before conception. Knowing all that, plus now this newly revealed potential, my challenge was to plant more seeds in Ravi and keep the ground fertile for them to grow. I had to educate him without words and establish the basis for his comprehension to blossom at its own pace, without creating the unproductive 'classic conflicts' between father and son. Learning to keep my mouth shut was probably one of the most important teaching skills I have developed.
Before considering Ravi for the opportunity to teach in Europe, I knew that I needed to send a teacher able to teach from the heart; someone who had the knowing inside present, instead of class plans and intellectual preparation. Despite the demands and challenges I often present to my teachers, and the way they quite often feel that I expect too much, my hope for all of them is to eventually be able to express their own knowing from the heart just as it happened for Ravi in Europe. Yoga has to flow through us. Practice is the way to prepare the soil and plant the seeds. Blossoming happens between nature and our own soul. My wish for all Kaiut teachers is for them to be blessed with the experience of teaching a perfect class. Congrats my son.
Francisco Kaiut, creator of the Kaiut Yoga Method, Curitiba Brazil.