Hometown: Minden, Louisiana
Artistry: Yoga with a mental health focus
Intentional, thoughtful and quiet. There are times when simply breathing can feel like an absolute rebellion, a total afront to the mad dash of the day-to-day, to the noise of the news and to the stress of a string of social ills on our feeds.
“Ultimately, all you have is this moment, this day, right now,” says Brittnee Castille, a licensed yoga instructor who uses creative practices to connect one-on-one with her clients. “I tell them ‘Let’s block out the noise, set an intention for today to connect with our body and our emotions, and make room for our own experiences and our own feelings rather than the experiences and feelings of things that are out of our control.’”
While in her teens, Castille lost her two younger brothers to suicide, violent tragedies that motivated her to take mental health seriously, seek therapy and put herself on the path to helping those in need.
After working with youth as a faith-based counselor for a local church, she went back to LSU at age 29, graduating in psychology. Now, Castille is studying for her master’s in clinical mental health through online courses at Walden University. Once a licensed therapist, she plans to continue the individual yoga sessions she’s been thriving on since she fell in love with the practice—and her body—after suffering from an eating disorder.
“I’m becoming exactly what I wanted and needed when I was younger, watching my brothers struggle,” says Castille, now a wife and mother of two. “Your body is giving you sensory information all the time. When you start to become in tune with that, when you are connected to your emotions and the different sensations those bring out, it becomes easier to sense it and follow it. Yoga is just one way to do that.”
Through breathing exercises, stretching and poses, Castille and her clients explore the symmetry between physical and intellectual exertion, using what she calls “non-religious yoga with a mental health focus.” Body positions and thought patterns work in tandem.
She believes creativity is an essential part of the mind-body connection, and one that everyone can access if only they slow down and try.
“The challenge and excitement of working with someone new is like having a new canvas, it’s an inspiration all on its own,” Castille says. “I get to explore their story and help them create something beautiful out of it.”