Brittany Krystantos is not your average teen. She is also not your average practitioner of yoga. Brittany is a remarkable individual and the author of the best-selling novel, “I Am Not Your Average Teen,” which is a story about how she overcame being the a victim of bullying and being judged on various topics to become the young woman she is today- in the book she outlines how yoga actually saved her life too!
Her story is also one that inspires others to connect with their mind, body and spirit, to awaken them to their true purposes in life, by allowing them to journey with her through her experiences and learn the various tools that helped Brittany find her true calling. Yoga helped her cope with depression and so we sat down with her to find out more about her journey.
How were you first introduced to yoga?
I was first introduced to yoga when I was 16. I had just begun writing my book, called: “I Am Not Your Average Teen.” The stress of school, the excitement to share my story with the world, and the confusion of still not understanding myself all became too much to handle. My massage therapist and friend, Anna, told me: “I think you should try Moksha Yoga.” Amazingly someone that week had actually given me a free pass to Moksha Yoga Maple. So, I knew instantly that “Yoga had just found me.”
What is your favourite type of yoga to do and why? And where do you usually practice?
My favorite type of yoga is Moksha flow- it is a Hatha style; it’s a flow sequence in the hot room. It is very similar to chapter 14 called, “Yoga is the dance to my life”. The amazing yoga instructor Paria Mirazimi made a sequence modified for teenagers and beginners. Paria is the one who inspired me to deepen my practice and really connect with it. I practice at the Moksha Yoga Studio Thornhill and Maple in the Toronto GTA.
Can you tell us about how practicing yoga helps you as an author?
Yoga helps me stay grounded and balanced. It also brings out my creativity. My greatest chapters and creativity come after a yoga class. As an author, it’s challenging to stay in the moment because we are always in our minds, creating stories, thinking about what next to write; yoga helps me come back to the now.
You say in your book that “yoga changed and saved my life”… Why is this?
Yoga didn’t just save and change my life; it became my miracle because before yoga all I did was sit in my room watching TV and eating away my feelings. I had nothing to hope for. My reflection was my biggest enemy until I started my yoga journey, and instantly discovered a connection to my body, love for myself, and motivation which helped me finish and complete my book.
What do you find is the hardest thing about practicing yoga?
The hardest thing about yoga is staying with my feelings; not running away when its challenging and learning to embrace discomfort have always been difficult for me. There have been times where I had left class early because too much had come up, and I wasn’t prepared to stick with it.
What is your advice to others looking to get into yoga?
Someone once told me: “yoga isn’t the destination, it’s about the journey to touching your toes.” Enjoy the journey. Feelings will come up. You may doubt yourself, “why don’t I look like her? Why can’t I hold tree pose like him?” But remember, anytime you’re on your mat, it’s your journey, anytime you move, it’s your body, anytime you breathe, it’s your life. Enjoy every minute of it.
What are your future dreams and goals both professionally and personally?
I have a lot of things that are in the planning process right now. There will be a book tour this summer of 2016 with an amazing young author just like myself who wrote a book to empower young teenagers- Elizabeth Pipko. She wrote: “Sweet Sixteen” when she was 16, and is now a model in NYC; she encourages young girls and young women to live with confidence. Another thing that will be happening is that I am doing my Moksha Yoga Teacher Training. It has always been a dream of mine, and it will be happening in the fall. My personal goal would be to enjoy life a little more, I’ve been locked up writing for three years. They say: “Live. Laugh. Love.” That is exactly what I’m planning on doing as well. I am young and the journey continues.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I want to end world hatred. I want new generations to grow up in a safe environment- that is exactly why it’s so important to me to empower teenagers to recognize their strength through my book and my experiences; because we really have the power to end world hatred, and to be anything we truly want to be.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I want to leave my mark on this world. I want to be remembered for making someone smile. I want to be remembered for touching some lives along this journey of life. More importantly, I want to be known for always speaking my truth, and staying true to myself.
Anything else you would like to share?
I want people to know that yoga isn’t for a specific age. I am 18 and started the journey two years ago, and still struggle from it from time to time. It’s a continuing journey. I will never forget a time in class when I needed a good laugh – so my instructor, my inspiration and soul sister Sara made lots of jokes in the class and I couldn’t stop laughing. It felt so liberating! As she was laughing with me, she was reminding me to let go of the battle, and not hold onto the poses but to enjoy moment to moment.
I want people to know they’re really never alone, and if anyone is interested in following me on my journey, then my book: “I Am Not Your Average Teen” is always an open invitation waiting for them! They can go to amazon or my website: Brittkrystantos.com
To read the full article please download our Asana Journal App or purchase Issue 163 July 2016.