BUFFALO, N.Y. — Yogis around the world are competing in an exclusive online competition to be featured in a Yoga Journal, and one Western New Yorker had to join in.
"My message that I want to give to people is that you can do whatever you want to do, whether it be yoga, dancing whatever you want to do," said Kristen Jarzyniecki, a Yoga Warrior contestant. "You don't have to have that perfect body that people envision, you are perfect the way you are. And you can do whatever you want to do, as you are."
Kristen's poise, confidence, and grace have always been inside, but yoga has helped her strengthen them and bring them out.
Now a national competition could help her spread her message of positivity far beyond Buffalo. She's currently in second place.
The Yoga Warrior competition is not about going head-to-head with a downward dog. Rather, the selected contestants share their stories and their love of yoga online and rally their communities for votes. The winner will get $10,000, but like yoga itself, there are added benefits.
"You can do a free vote or a monetary vote, which is called the warrior vote," Kristen said.
The donated money goes to helping support the veterans yoga project. They offer free classes, healing retreats, and mindful resilience training for veterans. It helps bridge that gap from post traumatic stress to mindful healing and growth.
Kristen says her yoga practice has also helped her heal, grow and cope, whether it's been through this competition, the coronavirus pandemic, or the loss of her beloved dad five years ago.
When she steps on the mat now, she's dedicating her practice to something that can get her through whatever life may bring.
"Recently, it's been myself, it's been me and that I am worthy," Kristen said. "That's something that it's taken so long for me to realize that I'm a worthy person. I am worthy of love, I'm worthy of help and I'm worthy of being happy."
If you want to support Kristen, you can click here.
If you want to learn more about the Veterans Yoga Project, click here.