Everyone has a personal side to their yoga journey, and thus a unique relationship with the practice. Many people arrive at the start of their yoga path as a way to alter their physical bodies in a specific way – to improve fitness and flexibility, tone up desirable areas of the body, or fix injuries as recommended by a health care professional.
For Jenelle Kitto, she was drawn in through a meditative doorway, one that inspired a now 18 year dedication that continues to influence her life.
Jenelle has been teaching since 2010, but her path began back in 1999 when she attended her first ever yoga class in one of Calgary’s original studio.
“I just loved it. It was more of an Ashtanga flow practice, and at that point in my yoga experiences, that was exactly what I wanted,” explained Jenelle.
“It was an exercise that I didn’t feel competitive in. I felt really good both during and after.
“So, I started practicing once a week and then wavered out of practicing when I was in holistic nutrition school.
In her last year of school, she got pregnant with her son and transitioned into a life of work and parenting.
“I was going crazy as a young 22 year old stay at home mom.
“I realized that yoga was not a luxury for me, it was a priority and I needed to go to a class and have a teacher and have that time out.”
For Jenelle, the lessons learnt in yoga easily translated into life and parenting.
“For me personally, yoga has taught me to listen to myself and my body and sit and contemplate and be content even with the things that aren’t perfect,” said Jenelle.
“As a child growing up, I didn’t have that with some of the adult figures in my life – someone that would just listen. So for me as a parent that is really what I try to offer with my son.”
The virtues of patience have also been instilled in her through the practice, and through learning to be patient with herself on the yoga mat, she has revealed a patience in herself as a mother.
Naturally, it is these valuable lessons and more that surface in her yoga teachings. Having trained in India, she recognizes a contrast between the different types of practitioners we see in Calgary.
“In my experience, there was much more of a heart felt devotional kind of spiritual connection to the practice which you can still fin din some studios in Calgary.
“A lot more studios now focus on the fitness and physical aspect of the yoga, so depending on where I have taught, I have found the classes need to be catered based on the demographic of people who are going there.
“Not that there is anything wrong with utilizing yoga to be stronger, fitter, more flexible, in many ways that’s the way we end up connecting people to the practice and they end up diving deeper and that’s their door,” described Jenelle.
“In some ways, that is a really beautiful thing.”
“The average person may never have ended up trying that path if they didn’t have the physical avenue to get there.”
From a science background, Jenelle admits that she enjoys the physical side of the practice. She is drawn in by the application of the anatomy train within the body and involvement of fascia.
Yin yoga has become a huge part of her teaching focus and an area she has really deepened her studies in.
“But that whole grounded spiritual path is what keeps me here,” says Jenelle.
“One of the reasons I love Santosha is because there are a lot of alignment focused instructors.
“There is such a deep seeded truth and authenticity to what they are teaching and the teachers that are teaching there are yogis that know and have learned a lot about the body.
“They are teaching all of that information and I think that is one of the reasons it is one of my favourite places to be and to practice and to teach myself.”
Jennelle has most recently obtained a certification for teaching standup paddle board yoga, a fun endeavour that marries being on the water with finding some yogic balance.
“A common theme that will run through my practices are the idea of finding balance and that balance is ever changing in our lives and in our bodies.
“Often less is more. Thats kind of a personal mantra of mine, often less is more,” Jenelle reveals.
“We don’t have to go all of the way to get the experience. If you sit back a little bit and just be with it, you get a great experience from that.”
Favourite posture: Hip related postures (any of the pigeons) and backbends.
Most challenging: Anything that involves upper body strength.
Favourite Food: Wine and Chocolate
Favourite Colour: Blue tones, ocean pallets
Favourite Animal: The raven.
Favourite gemstone: Moonstone
Surprising Jenelle Fact: She worked as a manager at Mc Donald’s (was a vegetarian at the time) and attended Hamburger University.