Kyla Dagenais

‘Musings from the Mat’: commentaries, reflections and wisdom by Kyla Dagenais

I am Kyla – a girl born sensitive. I consider myself fortunate to have lived a very comfortable life for the past 40 years and it’s my belief that this is due to meditation and yoga. Let me explain.

My practice of meditation started when I was 14, helping me to diagnose and treat a brain tumour by the time I was 17. As well as the tumour, I was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis (NF1), a genetic disorder which affects the growth and development of nerve tissue. Treatment included making the hard decision to have my right eye’s optic nerve removed, leaving me permanently blind in that eye. Thus began my challenge of reorienting my perceptions and navigating through life. Meditation helped me heighten my sensory awareness in different ways.

The NF1 diagnosis was a blessing; I’ve learned to understand myself and the way I live, sparking my curiosity about the human mind. Voraciously, I sought information on the ins and outs of how the mind works, taking me on a journey beyond my wildest dreams. I sought teachers and books that would offer many different modalities in neuroplasticity and cognitive function, which eventually led me to a yoga mat. The relief I found on the mat was the most effective medication I’ve received so far in terms of managing my condition. 

I believe it is this which has enabled me to lead a life of purpose and exploration. 

I’ve long been aware of my own mortality; I view time as my greatest gift and currency. The time I spend here on this beautiful planet, engaging with the characters that cross my path, is a gift beyond measure, as I am reaching my 40th birthday. The longer I’ve remained alive, the more knowledge and acceptance I have been able to find. My dis-ease was the catalyst to this life, one well-lived, and I have gratitude beyond measure, not only for the time spent but the ability to see, taste, hear, smell and feel – all on a much deeper level. 

The awareness that my time here will eventually end has heavily influenced my life choices, some good and perhaps others, due to haste, rushed into, not wanting to ‘miss out’. However, the best decision I ever made was the day I asked myself, “If I could do anything for a career, how would I like to spend my minutes?” At that moment, I remember telling my yoga instructor how lucky I thought she was that teaching yoga was her job.  

There, in that very thought, I found my purpose: I was born to share the same thing that saved me from the fear and crippling anxiety that sensory overload brought to my life. I followed my dream and it took me to Bali, Indonesia, where I attended a two-month yoga teacher training and returned home to Alberta, Canada, to ‘share the knowledge’ I had gained. Thinking back I was cute for thinking this and yoga itself probably would have giggled a bit at my space of ego. 

However, what ended up taking place was the realisation that the hundreds of people who’d come to share space with me in that studio would ultimately teach me more than I would ever teach them!

For the past decade, I have had the privilege of teaching both publicly and privately; every heart I met had a story to tell and wisdom to offer. In the space of vulnerability, we all grew. Yet, we were united in one thing: our humanity. 

The stories of the hearts I have met through these mutual learning experiences are those that I wish to share here. We all face the aspects of humanity, regardless of our individual circumstance. 

I hope to share the gifts of yoga and the wisdom of the hearts I have met on this continuing journey.

With love,