When I first started attending yoga classes at Bodywise Yoga Studio, one of the first classes as I attended was Jacynte’s Wednesday night all levels class Yang to Yin. I was immediately hooked! My love for yoga flourished from that moment. I loved the unique combination of relaxing yin yoga and reenergizing vinyasa flow. With Jacynte having an extensive training in yoga (550 hours of Hatha yoga certification through Yoga Ink and 200 hours of Kundalini yoga certification through Kundalini Yoga in the Loop) I knew my practice was in good hands. Each instructor brings their own unique flair to their classes and Jacynte brings a wealth of knowledge based on inspirations from Ruth Ritchman, Shakta Kaur, Doug Keller, Biff Mithoerfer, and Sarah Powers to each class. The thing I love most about Jacyne is that she is so malleable; she loves to teach a variety of yoga styles and soaks up everything life offers her. It’s a quality many of us strive for. Regardless of what yoga class Jacynte teaches, she ensures that every class is accessible for all regardless of fitness level–making all classes safe, experimental, and fun. I can only hope that someday I can do this as a yoga teacher.
What is Kundalini Yoga?
Every Thursday, Jacynte also teaches the all levels Kundalini express class offered during lunch hour at Bodywise Yoga Studio from 12:00-12:45. This is a new form of yoga to me; I am interested to learn more about Kundalini to help broaden my perspective of the various yoga styles out there, as I am currently in the process of becoming certified as a vinyasa flow based yoga instructor. As a beginner to Kundalini, I know very little about it. Jacynte explained what it’s all about in the most simplistic way that she possibly could for a newbie like me. Kundalini Yoga is the yoga of internal awareness to deepen one’s understanding of themselves. In Kundalini yoga, there is an emphasis on postures, breath work, mudras (strong hand positions), deep relaxation, and meditation (I am hesitant to use the word meditation, because it is often misinterpreted)–or rather, setting an internal intention to gain more self awareness (physical, mental, & emotional understanding). As Jacynte mention, understanding Kundalini can be difficult, so it is better experienced to fully understand the mental and physical benefits.
It takes a very special person to be able to teach Kundalini and Jacynte is that person. Her flexibility and intuitive awareness of her students needs allow her to teach effectively. She is a pure and true representation of “vayu ” meaning wind–a breath of fresh air. When attending any of her classes, you will notice that she is present, aware, and everywhere–like the wind. She moves fluidly around the space in the room while teaching to help show postures from different angles and adjusting participants when necessary. When in Jacynte’s classes, you’ll feel at ease and comfortable knowing that she has your best interests in mind.
Interview with Yoga Instructor Jacynte Leger
1. Where did you do your yoga training? What did you specialize in and why?
I did my first teacher training through Yoga Ink, this is a multi-disciplinary training which focuses on the philosophy of ashtanga yoga (8 limb path), but the asana teaching portion of the training felt like a blend of ashtanga, therapeutic yoga, and hatha. It was more about finding our flow with the breath, while having proper alignment in postures so they become therapeutic. I continued on to do 300 more hours of training with Yoga Ink to refine my teaching techniques and learn more about yoga and myself. During this training, I definitely specialized more in a slow alignment based flow and also did a lot of home study on yin yoga, those are the two styles that I dove into at that time.
I also decided to take Kundalini Yoga training because I felt very drawn to the practice and knew it would take me out of my comfort zone. I did my Level 1 training through Kundalini Yoga in the Loop and also part 1 of Level two. Since having taken Kundalini Yoga training, I definitely feel that the concepts and the teachings of this style of yoga have become my specialty and follow me into whatever style of yoga I teach.
2. How long have you been teaching yoga? What is your unique teaching style like (what makes you different from others)? Would you say you like to teach from a traditional, classical, new age, or a combination (or other) vantage perspective?
I’ve been teaching yoga for 6 years and love it so much! It is such an honour and journey to be able to share what has changed in my life with others. My teaching style is a mix of everything I’ve experienced over the years that has helped me evolve in my practice regardless of the style of yoga. I believe in respecting exactly where you are and what you are experiencing, I give different options in class so that people feel like it’s ok to step it up or tone it down if need be. Our breath is the most important aspect of our practice, if we can move away from thinking about the yoga practice as being all about the posture and more about the breath; that is where the magic of yoga begins. My teaching is not fully traditional in the sense that I blend my experiences into my teaching, but I also feel that bringing it back to the breath as being the most important aspect does keep a traditional feeling to the practice.
3. As someone going through a Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) program at the moment, I am interested to know the impact your YTT program had on you.
YTT changed my life completely! After I came home from my first weekend of training, I realized that I was not living a way that would promote growth in myself and help me serve others. The journey started off being about learning to teach yoga, but ended up being more about how to live my yoga, how to be myself and let go of what was no longer healthy nor serving.
4. What has your personal yoga journey been like?
My personal yoga journey has been about letting go of preconceived notions about myself, about what yoga should look like, feel like, and how it should be practiced. It has been a journey of acceptance, change, and learning to let go. Your yoga practice doesn’t always need to look the same; it can continue to evolve over the years as you continue to evolve.
5. As a modern world yogi, do you live by any specific mantra, quote, motto, or way of being? How do you live and breathe yoga today?
“Life is a flow of love, only your participation is requested.” Yogi Bhajan
When we are in the flow of love all is possible, we don’t see each other as separate or as enemies, we see each other as being interconnected. When we know we are all connected we can have more compassion for ourselves and others, we can understand that even though we don’t agree with something or someone it’s ok, we can be more accepting and forgiving. When we live from a compassionate place, it creates more space for self love, being genuine with others so meaningful dialogue and exchanges can happen.
6. Considering that I know nothing about Kundalini, how would you best explain this style of yoga to a beginner?
Kundalini Yoga is a style of yoga that can be a bit hard to explain, words do not serve it justice! But I will certainly try. Kundalini Yoga is also called the yoga of awareness, the whole goal of the practice is to help you turn your awareness and attention inward so you can have a deeper experience of yourself and gain greater awareness from this experience. To reach that state, we use mantras, Kriyas –these are the physical sets of exercises used in Kundalini yoga – which contain postures, breathing techniques, mudras, etc. , deep relaxation (with a gong if available), and meditation.
7. What are the benefits of Kundalini? Why would you recommend it? How often should someone practice Kundalini?
Kundalini yoga has so many benefits, here are a few: it is uplifting and has been a big component in my mental health, it helps tone the nervous system and internal organs, increases lung capacity, helps gain focus and concentration, increases circulation, strengthens us physically, mentally and emotionally. Energetically speaking, the practice helps to balance all the chakras (energetic centres), elevates our awareness and consciousness in a gradual way.
I would recommend Kundalini Yoga to everyone If you are looking for a practice that is uplifting, energizing, and contains different aspects of yoga such as chanting, breath work, postures, meditation, philosophy, and relaxation, if this is what you are looking for, then this is the practice for you!
You will gain benefits from Kundalini Yoga no matter how often you practice it, but as with any other practice the more regular you can be with it, the more benefit you get out of it.
8. How has Kundalini changed or influenced your life?
Kundalini yoga has helped me cultivate more compassion and empathy. It is an integral tool for stress management and helps me have a more balanced and positive outlook on life. It has helped me gain focus, concentration, clarity, and joy in life.
9. Have you done any traveling in your yoga journey? Where is your favourite place to practice yoga?
I have travelled quite a bit in North America mostly in the Maritimes, but have also gone to Toronto, Stockbridge, MA, and Maria Stein, OH. My favorite place to practice yoga is outdoors in the fresh air, nowhere specific as long as I can find steady ground, and a little bit of shade.
10. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Yoga has completely changed my life and I am so grateful that I embarked on this journey. It has given me the tools and confidence to follow my heart and to share with others what has made such an impact on me. The journey always continues to evolve and yoga has taught me to approach it from a place of ease and openness. I love this quote from Gurumukh and find this to be what yoga is all about.
“What we do in class is the practice of yoga; life is the real yoga. In class we practice techniques, life lessons on a physical level that we can then apply to our larger lives in the world.” ~Gurumukh
Thank you Jacynte for the incredible and inspiring interview! I can so resonate with many of her responses, as I am currently on my own personal yoga as we speak and am currently completing my level one 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training. I’m ready and embracing my own journey!
Media coverage for Bodywise Yoga Studio.