This is an excerpt from our podcast series, Unfiltered, and has been edited for length and clarity.
Instasize: All right, Jonah, what's up?
Jonah Kest: How's it going?
IS: Good. Do you want to do your little welcome to Africa??
JK: Sure. Like my sexiest voice possible?
IS: Yes, in your sexiest voice possible.?
JK: All right. ready?
JK: Welcome to Africa.
IS: Yeah, that was good. That was a killer. Well, welcome to Africa, Jonah. Have you been having a good time??
JK: It's been amazing.
JK: Yes. I have never seen animals like this in my life, so it's been pretty awesome.
IS: That's awesome. Have you had like a favorite animal that you've seen??
JK: Favorite animal I would probably say is a lion.
JK: Yeah. They're so hard to come by. They're so hard to find, so it's just been cool to see them. It's kind of like you know when you want something and like it's hard to get, it's kind of like the animals that hide themselves the most are the most priced. I think that the lion was the most rewarding find today.
IS: That's awesome. That's so cool. With that said, The Lion King's coming out here in like a week.?
JK: That's what I hear.
JK: Just found that out on this trip.
IS: Really? Are you excited??
JK: Yeah, that was my favorite movie growing up. I mean I think Beyonce is going to be in there.
JK: It should be a good time.
IS: Yeah, it's going to be awesome.?
JK: They're probably going to mess it up. Probably won't be as good as the original.
IS: If you were a Lion King character, who would you be and why??
JK: I would definitely be Simba because I feel like my dad's Mufasa in kind of where I come from as far as like the yoga lineage. I feel like I have a privilege and I have an honor and path to follow and carry on as far as my lineage goes, so I kind of feel a connection with Simba. I got a big responsibility, so Simba is definitely my guy.
IS: That's so awesome. Simba is like my favorite too because he like kind of transforms from this like young cub to this amazing lion.?
IS: It's kind of cool. You're amazing at Yoga. You're amazing at what you do and obviously you've been so successful, but behind all that, what makes you tick? Like what inside of you like motivates you and keeps you going? Like what is it that makes you tick??
JK: Hm, that's a good question. I would say what makes me tick is just the possibility and the excitement of just new relationships, just new connections with people all over the world, wherever I travel. I would say that's kind of probably what gets me to tick. You know, you go to so many places, but what really makes it special is the people and just the new relationships. That's what kind of gets me out of bed in the morning.
IS: That's so cool man. In all your travels, like how has that made you like the person that you are today or how has it influenced your yoga even??
JK: The traveling specifically?
JK: I think the traveling has helped me become a better teacher and a better person. I always say like my yoga and my teaching of yoga is kind of like a translation to like my life's work. It's just a reflection of each other. If I'm becoming a a better person, if I'm becoming more present and less reactive, then that will translate into my yoga teaching and hopefully help me connect better with people.
JK: But I would say traveling has really helped me as a person and help my teaching because it's just allowed me to see more people and different kinds of people. You know, you go to like Europe or Asia and you kind of have to use different vocabulary. You have to use different body language in order to like make connections with people. It's made me stronger in the sense that I... They say a master teacher can say the same things in a thousand different ways, and I feel like it's just kind of broaden my horizon of how to say the same thing, the same message of Yoga, which is connection, which is union union, and say it in a thousand different ways.
IS: That's amazing.?
JK: Traveling for me has given me a different perspective on just really how like blessed we are and how like how we come from a bubble and opened my eyes to a lot of new possibilities.
IS: That's amazing. Wow. You kind of talks about like you learn wherever you go. Is there anything in specific you learned while you've been here in Africa??
JK: Yeah. I think the biggest thing that comes to mind for me, like what I've learned in Africa immediately comes like nature and like how significant it is that we are a part of it and that we're not separate from nature. Just being living here, even in this beautiful campsite and just being on the safari, it's really kind of show me that we're really no different than the animals. You know? We wake up in the morning We take care of our family. We look for meals. We're really all just here trying to survive. I feel like it's kind of just being in nature here has brought me closer back to what being human really means and how we've kind of changed that. That's just one of the lessons that I've been kind of thinking about just being here is how is bringing me closer to nature.
IS: Oh, that's amazing. Oh, I love that. It's like kind of how I... Wow. Goosebumps. That was good. That was really good. Jonah, have you learned any Swahili while you've been??
JK: Hakuna matata?
JK: What does mean?
IS: I mean, I think it means...?
JK: It means no worries for the rest of your days. It's a problem free, come on sing it, philosophy. Hakuna matata.
IS: Oh, actually I have an idea. You're a free style rapper.?
JK: I mean, once in awhile, yeah.
IS: Do you think you could do one for us??
JK: Okay. Okay.
IS: Do you want a beat??
JK: Yeah, a beat would be nice actually.
Raps: Hey, hey, I'm out in Africa and you know I'm trying to sing. I'm Jonah Kest like Simba, like the lion king.
IS: That was really good. Can you just tell me a little bit about like your story? How you became like a yoga instructor and then kind of translated that into Instagram? Just like a shortened version??
JK: Yeah, sure. okay. I grew up in yoga. My father's a yoga teacher. He has been doing yoga since he's 12. His dad took him to India to learn yoga, so it's kind of been something that's always been in my life. Ever since I could remember since I was little, we'd always go to bed and we do a gratitude circle before bed and a five minute meditation. It's kind of always been something that's been a part of me, but like any young child that likes to rebel, I did the same thing with sports and athletics, and I kind of pushed away from it. But at a certain point, I realized how much it was helping me and how much it was really helping other people, and I kind of wanted to be a part of that.
I adopted a daily practice myself and a daily meditation and started to kind of practice these rituals of mindfulness and meditation, and it's really changed my life. I guess the whole Instagram thing, you know, is I guess just been a way for me to connect with more people than I probably could have. You know? My father, all the old school yoga teachers, they never had that. It kind of feels like a responsibility to make sure that what I'm sharing is really true and authentic and really just positive and conscious because I think there's so much stuff out there, especially like on social media that can be kind of like toxic and just a bunch of distractions. Just a lot of pollution.
I feel like it's kind of my duty to whatever I put out there to make it conscious and positive and really like maybe inspire someone.
IS: So cool.
JK: But yeah, I kind of just started from collaborating with friends who were photographers and getting good feedback. That's kind of how anything starts, right? You get feedback and you make adjustments. It kind of just went like that.
IS: That's so awesome. You talked a little bit about in the car how like you've done some crazy things to get photos. Can you talk about that a little bit or is that like nah??
JK: Well, I'm not really proud of it. Let's put it that way. I mean, today on the safari, I asked the driver what the percentage would be if I would get eaten alive if I went and did a handstand on this rock. He said 50%, so I stayed in the car. I'm actually learning. I'm getting better at this. You know? The old me probably would have done the handstand on the rock. There's progress here. I'm maturing. But yeah, I mean I feel like I've done a lot of crazy things to get photos, but like if you want a good photo, I think really the message behind it if I could like share to somebody else, like if you wanted your photos to be like... If you want them to stand out, is you have to do what everybody else isn't willing to do.
One of those things is just simply waking up early and getting there before the crowds, getting the right light. Like sunrise is the perfect time. You get those nice pastels. You get those like really even light and colors. That's like my biggest tip. The other thing would just be to like think outside the box. Don't just go to that normal spot and like sit there. Try to like add another element of like surprise in there. Try to like tell a story, whether it's like connecting with like the local culture. Wherever I go, I love to take pictures with other people. I love like collaborating. Collaborating is the best way to I feel like grow and stay creative because you're always in communication. Collaboration is actually take that out sunrise. Collaboration's number one for me.
JK: What are we doing here in Africa? We're collaborating. We're here with so many beautiful like-minded people. It's been really fun.
IS: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Jonah. You're the best. Is there anything else you want to say??
JK: No, just namaste.
JK: It's kind of like a hakuna matata except not really, but namaste just means the light inside of me sees the light that shines inside of you. It's just kind of like a nice greeting that says, I see you.
IS: I love that. I love that. Well, namaste, Jonah, and thanks for joining us today. You're the best.?
JK: Blessings. Thank you.
IS: Thank you.?
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