Interview with Acupuncturist, Psychologist and Yogini Kayla Lakusta
Kayla is a graduate of Alberta College of Acupuncture and TCM, and a member of the Alberta Governing Board of Acupuncturists. Kayla’s passion for Eastern philosophy drives her in life. Making connections with like-minded people and sparking ideas fuel Kayla to be an active participant and a creative and involved practitioner.
How did you come to Acupuncture and TMC?
I began my student career over 12 years ago. After growing up in the competitive swimming community, I found myself more and more intrigued by the mind body connection. Immediately after high school, I attended Mount Royal University Continuing Education Faculty where I completed my diploma in Massage Therapy. Through my studies in massage therapy and the physical manifestations of pain, I became more and more curious about the flip side of the coin. I wanted to make the connection between mind and body. This led me back to University where I completed my Bachelor of Arts, Major in Psychology. It is here where I really started to learn more about Eastern traditions and philosophy through many Eastern study courses. That, in combination with my psychology studies led me to discover Traditional Chinese Medicine.
For me, choosing to study Traditional Chinese Medicine was not merely a career choice but a lifestyle choice as well. I strongly believe in the importance of holistic health, integrating many practices to address the root of the problem. I see humans and all beings as microcosms of the natural world surrounding us. Much of my practice revolves around exploring ways to align and really connect to the natural rhythms of Mother Nature.
And what brought you to yoga?
Swimming being a relatively individual sport, taught me many lessons in the practice of visualization and I was looking for something that would tap into that mindfulness and mental practice. It wasn’t an instant love, I will be honest. I struggled with the monkey brain, being still, thinking about how I looked and everything else going on in the room. It wasn’t until I started travelling and practicing yoga outside the studio, in parks, different studios, my hotel rooms, that I really fell for yoga. It was something I could take anywhere with me and it was something I did for me. Everything else in my world melted away when I was practicing yoga, no matter where I was. Then I began to bring the lessons and mindfulness of yoga off my mat and into my day-to-day. It was this beautiful system of yin and yang, light and dark and I was able to envision the connections and likeness to Traditional Chinese Medicine.
What does your personal practice look like?
At a minimum I start my day off with a sun salutation routine. I feel invigorated starting my day with some flow and as I personally worship the sun, it makes me feel so good to start fresh with some sun salutations. Outside of that, I try to make it to a Yin class once a week. I find the Yin classes are where I really connect to the asanas, my body and identify blockages, where I need to open things up, which meridians I’m stretching out to increase flow. I’d have to say that part of my personal practice is also entwined with my patients. Every patient I see in my Acupuncture practice is working on different blockages and different meridians and I feel stimulated finding new asanas for them to work on outside their Acupuncture sessions to speed the healing.
You often link yoga and Acupuncture into your personal and professional practice. How did you come upon that connection?
Acupuncture and TCM is a way of life. It is not just a jacket I put on and wear to work and take off at the end of the day. It truly is the way you view the world and a philosophy to live your life in accordance with.
I started seeing so many connections between Acupuncture and yoga when my own personal yoga practice started to expand. I was practicing daily and I found myself in a poise thinking about what points along the meridians were being stimulated. As I started to get deeper and deeper into the roots of yoga and Ayurvedic medicine, I realized just how many connections there are to be made between these two ancient medicines.
I now collaborate with yoga instructions to guide Yin yoga or yoga Nidra classes supported with Acupuncture in Savasana. It is such a wonderful pairing and I have seen the benefits time and time again in the participants of these classes as well as my individual patients whom I am happy to give suggestions for poses to work on at home or in a studio to balance out any disharmonies we are working on in clinic.
Tell us a little about Banyan Tree Health.
Currently I am the owner, dreamer and sole practitioner of Banyan Tree Health. When I decided I wanted to start my own practice and thinking of names and fleshing out what my vision truly looked like, it was important to me not to confine the practice to Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Though my studies are focused on that, my passion is holistic and folk medicine and I envision a practice one day with several practitioners of varying branches of study working collaboratively to heal the individual.
Many people have asked why I chose the Banyan Tree to represent my business and vision. There is a simple answer and a much more “deep rooted” (pardon the pun) one. The power and beauty of the Banyan tree, for me personally, is captivating. Ergo my simple answer… I was drawn to it at first sight. My much deeper appreciation for the tree came later in this life, with a greater understanding of it. It is through my study of the tree that I developed and grew the many “branches” (sorry I couldn’t resist) of love and appreciation for it.
As is true with the Banyan Tree, an intricate and extensive network of prop roots is necessary to sustain life. I truly believe the same goes for humans and all “earthling” forms of life to maintain health, wellness and ultimately life. These expansive prop roots include but are not limited to, physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects. There is an ancient Indian proverb that says, “everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but, unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.” I believe that the root of many ailments is caused by spending too much time in one room or no time in another. The Banyan Tree provides many roots covering, sheltering and nourishing all of our “rooms”. My ultimate vision is to grow Banyan Tree Health to cover a seemingly ever-expanding network of health and wellness for all. The Banyan Tree will expand as far as the eye can see and shelter and foster the community around it. This is why I chose the Banyan Tree to symbolize my vision and I know it is up to the task.
Where do you live?
I currently live in Calgary, AB, Canada. I was born and raised here and though I resisted it for many years I am proud to call this home. For many years I travelled, seeking new places, new experiences and knowledge and always coming up with a plan to move. Something always brought me back to Calgary though and as soon as I stopped resisting it I really found a beautiful sanctuary in my home city. Travelling and hearing other people talk about their desires to visit Canada was really humbling and eye opening. I have such an incredible community here that continues to grow and expand with like-minded individuals that I am at a point where I love where I live and feel so connected to nature here.