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