Grateful yogis have navigated their way through the maze of life’s many obligations in order to catch one of Brad Keimach‘s yoga classes at Exhale Venice. Brad seems to lure them in, hooking them by their very breath, the same way that Leonard Bernstein would do with an orchestra, drawing out the flowing feeling of a movement. As a musical conductor for twenty-five years, Brad is an ideal interpreter of breath, and his practice of teaching yoga is a heart-healing, transformational experience.
Brad Keimach’s mission, which he embodies fully, is being and living his practice. “Keeping the mind here on the present breath has remarkable results,” he explains. You can always count on showing up to Brad’s class and being met by his smile, with eyes sparkling. Brad’s countenance naturally draws people in, and whether he’s leading musicians or yogis, he touches everyone in some way or another, instilling the notion that breathing can become a form of moving meditation. “There are for the mind no future breaths,” he’ll say. “There’s only this one right now. It is the only one that matters.”
A former student of Juilliard, Brad Keimach first majored in saxophone and later changed his concentration to conducting after hearing an entire symphony for the very first time, finding himself totally enchanted and overwhelmed. “Conducting is mostly done wordlessly,” he explains, “and musicians must understand the conductor and vice-versa. It’s 100 percent emotional!” Brad’s decision to change his focus to conducting eventually led him to connect with the luminary conductor Leonard Bernstein, who became a mentor and a pivotal influence on his life. After twenty-five years of conducting, it’s easy to wonder whether he’s thinking yoga or music; whether he is embodying Bernstein or himself. “I’m just being Brad,” he grins. “That’s the real challenge for all of us anyway””authenticity.”
Brad Keimach believes being the best version of ourselves allows us to bring that out in others. In his classes, he circles around the room; he might greet an old friend as they hold Downward Facing Dog; or softly share words of wisdom to a newer student moving into Arda Chandrasana, encouraging them to float into the pose. He might offer a hand of support in a difficult balance pose while encouraging the student to open and trust their own inner power. He recommends minor adjustments, rather than giving an order. He uses mindful ujayi, or audible yoga-breathing, to inspire the upward-flowing pranic energy called uddana, which is something Brad emphasizes in his classes. Brad believes breath can pave the way for a deep awareness of self and one’s state of being.
Interestingly, this is not something that most practitioners are able to handle right away, and it’s no surprise to Brad Keimach when some of them clench up. “I notice it immediately in my students’ faces in the same way I might notice a flat note in the orchestra’s wind section,” he says. To help students overcome this initial obstacle, he invites them to “freeze-frame” the fear or mind-drifting thought, and then release it.
Besides maintaining a keen attention to the breath, Brad Keimach prominently features backbends in his class routine. “Life is conspiring to constantly bring us into forward bend,” Brad points out. “Every heavy emotion causes people to slump a little and cave in at the heart. Yoga class is the only time we’re bending back and opening up. You’ll never go to a convalescent home and see people bending back, and yet backbends””emotional and otherwise””are just what we need!”
An old proverb says that, “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.” This was true for Brad. Through his career in conducting symphony orchestras, Brad Keimach learned about yoga and studied Hatha Yoga with an array of renowned Los Angeles instructors, including Max Strom, who he credits with igniting his passion for it. Brad trained with Max and began teaching alongside him at Exhale Venice when the studio first opened. He also studied with Saul David Raye, Sarah Powers, Georg Feuerstein, Gabriella Giubilaro and Tias Little, and has taught at Maha Yoga, Dance Home and Brentwood Yoga.
When he is conducting””which he does regularly for the Glendale Symphony Orchestra””he is known to spend thousands of hours rehearsing a piece in order to deliver one singular, stunning performance. Brad recently merged the heart he displays in his yoga instruction with his passion for wielding the baton, creating Symphonic Yoga, which highlights classical music arranged and conducted specifically for the class. Brad combines his life’s passions to the tune of Copeland, Mozart, Beethoven, Verde and Gershwin; the result will undoubtedly be powerful, compelling and full of breath.
Extending a rare authenticity and what Brad Keimach describes as “compassion in action” to his yoga classes, Brad Keimach helps direct his students as well as his own spiritual renewal”-a going forward” in his own eyes. Each day is full of opportunity, and he quotes his former teacher, Max Strom, at the end of his class with the reminder that, “Ninety-nine percent of the people outside of this class are more stressed out than you are right now. Don’t take on their stress. Instead, give them some of your peace.”
Read next >> pizzaiolo