Celebrated Yogi Jonny Kest Invites Us Into His Quiet Place

In this month’s I Need My Space feature, we take a look at a yoga and meditation space in a Tudor-style Bloomfield Hills home
Jonny Kest
Jonny Kest

When Jonny Kest was 12 years old and living in Hawaii, he witnessed the horrendous pain associated with back problems. “My father had debilitating back pain, four surgeries, and I saw yoga play a key role in his recovery,” Kest says.

In 1983, he and his father traveled to India to learn more about the art of yoga and the country’s culture. Fast-forward, and today Jonny and his wife, Milla, who have four children ranging in age from 12 to 24, are considered the leaders in establishing metro Detroit as a center for Vinyasa yoga. (Vinyasa is characterized by a seamless flow from one posture to the next in coordination with breathing.)

The two established the popular Center for Yoga in Birmingham in 1993. Today, Kest spends his time training students to teach yoga. He teaches virtually and hopes to return soon to his post leading the LifePower Yoga Teacher Training program at Life Time Bloomfield Township.

In turn, his students eventually impart their knowledge to their own students, stressing Kest’s emphasis on the healing power of breath and of allowing the heart and spirit to align. “Yoga and meditation teach you how to be in relationship with yourself and others and come out successful,” Kest explains from his light-filled yoga/meditation space in his beautiful 1927 Tudor-style Bloomfield Hills home.   

For anyone making a New Year’s resolution to practice yoga or meditation, one of the best things you can do to help yourself keep your resolution is to have a dedicated and proper space, Kest says. Over time, he believes, special energies accumulate in that space, “and there’s a vibration that supports your practice. Here, you come to your breath, and your thoughts let go of you.” The space should be distraction-free, which, he believes, holds for life as well. “For a new year, I like to think instead of adding to life, what are you letting go of? What’s your move to a simpler life that’s less complicated?”    

Here, in lotus position, of course, he shares some insights on his favorite at-home dedicated space for stretching, bending, posing, and meditating. Situated off the living room, the light-drenched room, which was used as a library by the former homeowners, is long and narrow.  

A Closer Look at Jonny Kest’s Yoga and Meditation Space

Let there be light

A pair of candlesticks also adorn a shelf; they were a wedding gift from Kest’s father and his wife. In addition, brass Pierre Forsell for Skultuna (vintage 1950s) candle sconces (not shown)grace the space and are lit regularly.  

Enlightened One

What’s a yoga space without Buddha? A Buddha head sculpture from a friend sits atop a shelf, appearing to watch over the room’s occupants.  

New chapters

Kest’s favorite books include Breath by James Nestor, and Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and Talking to Strangers. 

Growth is good

A Willy Guhl (Swiss designer) planter brims with verdant green moss. 

The art of yoga

Jonny and Milla adore the Marc Chagall lithograph of an opera house ceiling (Opera Garnier in France) that hangs on one of the walls. “Yoga is an art,” Kest says, “and so we wanted art here.” 

Here comes the sun

Whether he’s in sun salutation mode or not, Kest gets a lot of sunlight coming in from large windows on three walls of the room. They look out to 2.5 acres of rolling terrain dotted with beautiful, mature trees.    

Size doesn’t matter

There’s no need for expansive floor space for yoga or meditation. “It should be thought of as a container of intimacy,” Kest says, “so it’s nice to have a smaller space.”   


A bolster with vintage Missoni fabric is often used for stretching and rolling. 

Mat matters

The yoga guru isn’t choosy about his mat, as long as one side is “sticky and doesn’t slip or slide,” he says.  

Floored by simplicity

White oak rift and quartered flooring is both easy on the eyes and yoga-friendly.

Want to take a peek into more homes? Read our other I Need My Space features here