Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Club

I started my own book club this summer and it has been a fascinating discovery. You could say I have replaced actual friendships with my books. Which in small doses works wonders. I nestle in on my couch with a large mug of whatever I am drinking that day and mull over every concept. I am intrigued to discover that what I think, what I do and what my mamma gave me are always changing, always evolving into what I am doing with my life. Every thought, every action is accounted for, it becomes recorded into my life. The more I read the more I could not stop. The first of my great reads was all about allergies, then on to skin and proper care of the biggest organ in our body and lastly I just finished reading about genetics. I can say that they all have shed light onto my old beliefs of what was good and bad. I have opened up towards the idea that even though I have a set of DNA that codes every cell of my body I am still in control of my destiny. That what I do, every single day is ultimately who I will become.

"Even long after we're gone, our bones can leave behind clues about the myriad of experiences of our lives that have been impacted by our genes. The constant use, strain and weight isn't just toning muscle, it's also setting osteoblasts and osteoclasts to work, which changes genetic expression that helps to build stronger bones. It's also weaving together an aspect of our life story that will last as long as our bones do." Even after I am gone someone can look at my bones and identify how I lived my life. They can see what I was allergic to, what my diet consisted of and the quality of life I lived.

I have recently started a new program of cardio and endurance based workouts. Sad thing is, my body is not ready for that quite yet. I need to do a few rounds of physical therapy because I have to strengthen my body to work more cohesively. And is that not the truth, looking at me you would say I am the picture of health, and while there are truths to that I have to make my muscles, my body all work together. Because it is not how I look that really matters, its that it all works together. From food to workouts to rest I have to delicately balance all of it. I have to push, pull, swing and hold my way to a better body, a more balanced body that will take me anywhere I want to go. I will not live in fear or hold back from anything because I can accomplish any task if you give me time and a little room to make mistakes. I have since ended my obsession with books and am now back on the friend market. No excuses this time!

Photo by: Patricia Pena
Quote from the book "Inheritance" by Sharon Moalem, MD, PhD

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Mirror, Mirror

To hold up a standard in our lives is inevitable, we all say harsh things about our bodies, our shortcomings and failures. I feel that at times throughout my life, I come to a place where I see almost too clearly my actions and how I am in the wrong all the time, how I must come off to other people and all I can do is realize how far I have yet to go. The mirror is held up, and I know that I am not the only one. You have a chance to be better, to rise above and to change. We all have an excuse for why we act the way we do, but how we come off to others should reflect our true thoughts and actions. I usually come off stern, upset or not in the mood to talk and that is pretty accurate. But I want to be different. I want to be approachable and friendly. I want to be able to stand up for myself in the right moments and surrender in others. It is a delicate balance that comes easily very few days. Most days I struggle, I try to accept that all I can do is be open and ready for the changes that I need to make.

We need to be accountable to each other. To call out each other when someone has made a mistake and support them through it. I want people in my life like this. I aim to surround myself with individuals who are striving to be better versions of themselves, never thinking they made it. Because do we ever make it? What standard is "making" it? We are all equals in this world; rich or poor, successful or homeless, we all can be better and do better.

I recently started reading some fascinating books regarding health, allergies and genetics. One simple principle that they all speak about is taking care of our body by working with it, not against it. Our bodies send us signals (headaches, runny nose, sneezing, sore throats, acne, muscle aches and spasms, heart palpitations, etc.) and it is our duty to honor the body and discover why our bodies behave the way they do. The same is true of our behaviors. Why do we react to certain people with anger and others with kindness?

We have to be smarter than our bodies, and the only way that can happen is by being observant to our actions, our inconsistent patterns and understanding the why instead of masking over our problems with excuses. It can be external or internal, the root of the problem is what I seek to solve, to understand the why instead of just giving it a because.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Me, Me, Mine

From a place of always giving, always available and willing to help another, to do work and to be of service there comes a freedom from a space to become selfish. I find that when I am too much of one thing I have to balance it out in order to come back to a place of harmony within myself. This month has created a challenge for me with writing, I would sit down to write and have nothing, or when something did come up I felt that it was not good enough to publish. That came from me giving too much out and not putting enough back in to me. I own that. I have to work at creating a space where I can receive back and allow myself to take in all that is out there for me. Last night I went outside and sat on my patio, the clouds were rolling it and it seemed that a storm was upon us. It was beautiful and invigorating. It inspired me to go get some paper and write, I have translated it into some form of legibility below and I hope you enjoy!

Where does creativity spring forth? In the freedom of expression, the letting go of what we want into the momentary bliss of life. Creativity is our desire to express ourselves in the simplest form, ends up being the most expansive version of what we need to communicate with the world. For me, the words are not always present so actions must suffice. When colors are not available, the message should still come across. I sit and wonder how much I have walked by and missed because I was so caught up in my life and how important I thought I was. To have faith, always, that what we do here is not in vain must be accompanied by an effort of joy. That one by one we are uncovering pearls among oyster shells.

In life, sit near someone who has had the experience as well as sit under a tree with new blossoms. A great teacher, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen said that if you want something hard enough you will get it. He said "it will happen when the eye (I) becomes a we." We are here on earth to use each other, to share our lives and what goes on in them. We can try to isolate, to tell ourselves that we are better off alone but that is the biggest lie of all. I need people in my life who hold me accountable, who inspire me and teach me. I can't always be the teacher, the rule enforcer or the wise one. I must also be the student, the one that listens. That is where I sit now. That is where I am. 

Monday, May 12, 2014


you cannot find peace by avoiding life
nor can you live by never having restraint
for to truly understand life you have to know the beat of another's heart
you have to give, wholly of yourself with nothing in return
accept defeat, surrender.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Piano Man

"Are we teaching students to become like piano tuners who never experience the joy of just playing the piano? Do they know volumes about the technique, but nothing about the joy of practicing it? But if technique is all we teach, then there is no heart in our teaching."                        --Judith Lasater

Maybe one of my all-time favorite yoga teachers, rather mentor, Judith allows students to practice from a space that is rooted in tradition yet open to expression. I try to explore this space on my yoga mat. To do what I love, knowing the rules of how to play the game, and allowing variables to change, to just show up and to not feel judgement or lack of love is a beautiful place to live. Many times it is a space that is hard to recreate. So, stop trying to recreate a past memory. Start to make new ones!

Growing up one of my best friends father's was a piano tuner. He had the privilege of tuning piano's for all the great musicians that would come play in Detroit or Auburn Hills. And he would be there when they would warm up and I asked him what it was like to warm up with the "greats"? He said, "you know, nothing special. They play simple beats well." I was disappointed to say the least. But now, I get it. I love it! The excitement of practice comes from showing up, knowing how much you are capable of but allowing the beat to flow, to be uninterrupted by ego and to let your spirit flow freely.

I think yoga is like music, at times it entertains us. We go for the scene. Eventually that wears off and we are left in a space that is empty. It is like a song left on repeat. I can sing you a song, play the piano real loud. What matters is what your showing up with, an eagerness to learn, a readiness to change and an acceptance of what cannot change.

I want to be a teacher that gives cues, small cues that allow students to teach themselves. That is who I want to be known as. Students will remember how to do it right because they felt it, maybe they heard one cue, lift your gaze and it changed more than just their focus, it gave them feeling in their upper body. To be challenged, is a gift. To rise to that challenge is what changes us. Stop expecting others to do the work that you were meant to do. Because Billy said it best, "we're all in the mood for a melody, and you got us feeling alright." Someone can always make you feel alright, it is when you start making yourself feel alright.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

#happy is the new #fake

"Can you be happy for 100 days in a row?" 

I came upon this website that challenges you to be happy for 100 days. They ask you to post one photo a day of something that makes you happy onto your social media site of choice. I can say that I was curious, a bit skeptical but interested enough to check it out. People that I know were logging in and posting photos of life, food, beautiful scenery, so naturally I was inclined to see what the challenge was all about. Upon further investigation I decided to call the whole operation bullshit. I mean, are we that depressed of a culture that we have to hashtag happy?

When you click onto the website (, it states "Can you be happy for 100 days in a row?" I mean the real challenge for me would be to run for a 100 days in a row, to feed the homeless girl that sleeps next to my car for 100 days, to keep my house clean for 100 days. These are real challenges, this....whatever this is, being happy is not a challenge. I could not stop shaking my head and feeling myself get angry.

The website goes on further to explain that 71% of people could not complete the challenge due to time. Time? I was not aware that it took time to be happy. I thought happiness was an emotion, a reaction to what is occurring in your life. I don't think that being happy should require thought or action. It should not be forced or coerced out of someone, it should be authentic, genuine and full of freedom to express yourself. If your life is that terrible, change it! A little backdrop for some of you, for two years of my life I was addicted to pain medication because I was hurting physically, emotionally and mentally. I was diagnosed as depressed and it was true. I never wanted to leave my house and it was hard to have conversations with people without starting to cry. My struggles are real and authentic, I don't need to have someone tell me how I should live my life, or that I should smile more. As if they have any idea what was or is occurring in my life. How dare anyone tell me how I should feel when they have never walked in my shoes. Don't presume that I am not happy or that I am not dealing with hard and serious life issues. We all are, and to be told that I am not happy or that I should smile more makes me feel that the work I am doing is in vein.

Do I need to smile to prove to you that I am happy, that I am grateful for my life. What are we looking for? Those that smile all day, that force happiness and joy on others, they think if they smile they will make me happy, as if I am not happy already. These "constasmilers" most likely go home and are miserable. They open up the fridge or break open a bottle of wine to drown their sorrows. You can put up a front, be fake all day but what happens when the crowd goes away, when you are no longer the center of attention or your photo was not "liked" over 100 times on Instagram? I wrote in my last blog post, can you love without being loved back and I mean that, can you wake up and be happy with absolutely nothing? Have you ever had nothing, truly, absolutely nothing at all?

The challenge asks you to post one picture a day of you doing something that makes you happy. I would ask though, what are you doing the rest of the day? Did a photo truly make you realize that you have a great life? I just cannot buy into this idea that posting a picture will make you happy, will make you appreciate the small things in life. I think the source of true happiness is in the everyday moments, when you're not looking for anything or expecting much. I think happiness is momentary and joy is everlasting. I find my joy in waking up and doing what I love everyday. I don't need to brag about my life, prove my self to others over social media and brag about how great my life is. It is and I know that, I have worked hard to do it. I cannot give anyone the solution to a happy life, I can however tell you that social media is probably the last place I would spend my time to feel good about myself. Set your own standard based off of what you love, what makes you feel great about yourself. Be content with the life that you were given.

I really wonder what this "happy" culture will do to us. If we are always happy what will we do when something really awesome comes our way? Don't dilute the feelings that you have, being happy should be a normal occurrence, it should happen everyday but not with force, not by feeling like you have to be happy otherwise your depressed. I hope to shine light on this, to inspire you to feel all emotions at the appropriate times. To be happy when good things come your way and when they come your neighbors way. To cry when you get bad news. To love when the right one comes your way. To dance when the music sings to your soul and to most of all let it happen in stride, in equal measure and without hesitation.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Love: The Definition of You

What you do on a daily basis is who you are at the end of your life. Wow! I wake up, teach class, eat, teach another class, eat again. Nap. Eat. Teach. Eat. Teach. Sleep. Somewhere in the mix of that I walk my dog. When I started applying that philosophy to my life it started to drive my day towards the real goals that I have written. If each day I can make a move, I can do something, I don't have to wait around for other people to help me accomplish anything, that is what I realized and keep realizing over the last six months.

If I asked you to define who you are in one sentence what would you say? Is your answer your job? Hobby? A brand? A city? An income bracket? A car?

I wrote what my definition is: Katherine Ryan, I am a servant, who loves to read, listen to music and be outdoors, preferably with sunshine and sand. I love to love. I love to teach those who want to learn. I want to serve the world in a capacity I am not sure of now, so I will keep my heart and my mind open to that possibility.

I think so many times we think we should be doing "X" to define "Y." We chase after a dream that we never truly explored. If you love money, then define yourself as that. I am under the assumption that there is always more to a person than what they want to show everyone. We are complex, emotional and passionate beings that want to be accepted. So it is natural to try to prove your worth to family, friends and all those that are interested. Hard question is, can you just exist in a space that is all yours? Can you love without being loved back?

When I started teaching there were times when no one would show up. It was defeating, I could of given up, threw my hands up and said this was too tough, no one wants me. But I sat down, I wrote down reasons why I love what I do, why I chose to give up another life, another career for this. I had months that were tough, very, very tough. I realized that regardless of the audience in front of me, I was fueled by learning and by teaching. I choose to show up day in and day out with a purpose, a reason for teaching and I ask clients to define why they are in my class. If they are not leaving class having learned something either they are in the wrong class or I am the wrong teacher for them. The people in our lives need to give us something; inspiration, motivation, conversation all lead up to great client relationships but that has to continue otherwise the relationship will end. You have to continue to show up ready to learn and explore, that goes both ways.

I have been exploring this teacher/student relationship for a while and it is so great to see students start to explore other classes and other teachers. I implore you all to ask the hard questions, why do I get up every morning? Why am I going to this class? Why am I going to work? Why do I have this person in my life? Keep yourself challenged and keep on challenging those in your life. That is when transformation happens, where breakthrough occurs and moves are truly made!