Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yogi Highlight - Eric Ryan!

The first yogi I am featuring, is Eric Ryan from New Jersey. Eric is known all over the world now for his radical transformation in the last two years since studying Anusara yoga. Since I met him, he has been with me on the mat on Martha's Vineyard, in Italy, Chile, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts. When I met Eric, I found him to be bright and kind, yet there were clouds cloaking his full light from shining. He was less fully engaged, less social, and more withdrawn. He could not push up off the floor in Urdvha Dhanurasana, his handstands were enthusiastic, but his alignment was not refined, so his stamina would burn out like a flame in seconds and he'd be down. His athletic background made him competent on the mat, but he would not pause long enough to sync with me and so he'd rush in and out of poses, and over-effort many times.

Watching Eric soften, open up, channel his greatness, and embrace being part of a kula (community of the heart), has been a total blessing for me. Each new workshop or part of the immersion, his light would come through with more clarity. His poses, out of no where, started to unfold. For example, within only a year and a half he went from "can't push up" in urdhva dhanurasana to demoing drop backs and dwi pada viparita dandasana and nailing it on the first try.

He slimmed down significantly. His skin tone and overall luster energetically started to glow.

Eric became a true friend to all of us, became an official Douglas Brooks groupie, and over the course of the Immersion a spectacular tattoo of Ganesh evolved on his upper back followed by Kali alighting on his foot! I have not seen it yet, but apparently there is a third addition - Hanuman in flying form holding the mountainside of Sanjivani herbs, now on his chest.

Congratulations, Eric. You've worked hard, your adhikara (studentship) rocks, your devotion is appreciated, your service to the greater good and the kula is our greatest blessing, and your presence is an inspiration! Keep on evolving!

Words from Eric:

My first Anusara Yoga class was also one of my first yoga classes. It was a workshop with Amy on Martha’s Vineyard in 2006. I was pretty clueless and had to watch other students to have any idea what the poses were. I felt awkward and clumsy but something clicked and I knew that this was something I wanted more of.

What really attracted me was the sense of welcome I felt. Folks asked :“How are you?” and I sensed that they actually cared about the answer. The quality and depth of my every conversation and interaction improved; as did my sense of connection to my heart and the community.

The Fall of 2008 was calamitous. The economic collapse caused me significant dislocation and demanded reappraisal of what I had held as precious. My marriage seemed irreparable, and there was the passing of loved ones. I arrived in Umbria raw and grieving. The kula was a lifeline and I felt like a drowning man. The kula took care of me with loving support, acceptance and hugs.In Umbria Amy spoke about the Immersion as the next step for those who wanted to deepen their understanding of the Anusara philosophy and system of alignment. I felt ill prepared for such a big step but I hungered for it.

I asked Amy: What would I have to do to be ready for the Immersion?
I expected a checklist: Practice 10 hours a week. Kick up into handstand at the wall. Urdva with straight arms… etc.

The answer that Amy gave was: It is just a breath away.

I could no more refuse her invitation than I could stop my own breath. I returned home and amped up my class schedule, trying to get prepare. The Immersion proved to be more than I could have hoped for. Here were people who had chosen the same path I had. My sense and appreciation of the kula deepened and enriched me. The authenticity of the connection among us was profound and powerful. It inspired confidence and effort. I found that by trusting my teacher and living and breathing my commitment that the boundaries of my asana practice were expanding. Asana also became more playful. Even falling out of a pose became an occasion for laughter and joy.

One of the things I have experienced along the way is that progress is seldom linear and it can be frustrating to me when I think that I am about to finally “get it” and then “it” decides to dance out of my reach. I often feel as if I am actually going backwards. This is the time to take a “step towards the teacher”. Sometimes that teacher is the universal principles of alignment, sometimes the asana teacher standing in front of you at the studio and sometimes it is the teacher that is in each of our hearts. In all cases taking a step towards the teacher results in the teacher taking two steps towards you.

It sounds mundane; but the commitment to scheduling chunks of time for yogic exploration and restoration is an affirmation that this is the path I have chosen and this is the path that I am on. Even the act of marking my calendar with a future event is making an important choice that renews my commitment to my practice and to ordering the rest of my life so that it is in support of that practice. Then, when challenges come, I look at the calendar and think: Well, this month may be a bit of a bumpy road, but the middle of next month I get to be in the company of some amazing beings and then the Shakti will really pulse!

I have immense gratitude that I stumbled in to Anusara. I am also deeply grateful for the teachings of John Friend, Douglas Brooks, Amy, and all of my other teachers and I am grateful for the support of the kula. May it continue to expand and enfold.


Jackie said...

Sweet! It's an honor to know you Eric and to watch with inspiration as the lotus that is you unfolds into the light. You ROCK the kula!! ox Jackie

mary said...

what an eloquent expression, Eric. i have such a deep thirst for this kind of experience! rock on!

Tarah said...

I SO adore Eric. Compassionate, bright, enthusiastic, playful, humble and authentic...some of my favorite aspects in life. I am honored to call Eric my kula brother and friend!

Kate said...

This story brings tears to my eyes. My heart bursts when I hear yoga touching a heart like this. The power of the Kula is real, and makes such a difference in a life. Thank you for sharing your story!!!
I dont know you yet Eric, but I will soon. Come to LA!

Susanna said...

this is so inspirational...i'm inspired. thank you for posting!

Leah said...

I met Erick this past October at Douglass Brooks' (surprise) Goddess workshop at Yogaphoria in New Hope, PA. Eric and I connected because we are avid Amy students--the immersion shifted our lives in profound ways. Eric and other Yogaphoria kula peeps that I just met kindly treated me to a great dinner that night and we felt like old friends! Did you know Eric has a puppy that goes with him everywhere? So adorable! Did you know he rides a motorcycle too? THanks Amy and Eric for your inspiration & authenticity!

Nayr Drawes said...

For the last 15 plus months the true answer to Oh, brother, wherefore art thou? it seems is @ yoga practice either physically or spiritually. Bravo, brother, Bravo! You've set a true course over some rough seas. Love you, man. -Seward

Anonymous said...

While I have only know Eric a short while I feel like I have known him for a lifetime... Eric is one of the most gentle men I have had the pleasure of meeting

smccahillperrine said...

What a wonderful way to begin my Monday! I just stumbled across this highlight of Eric, and I am now so charged up and inspired. What a beautiful story. Congratulations, Eric! Such adhikara!

smccahillperrine said...

What a wonderful way to begin my Monday! I just stumbled across this highlight of Eric, and I am now so charged up and inspired. What a beautiful story. Congratulations, Eric! Such adhikara!

smccahillperrine said...

What a wonderful way to begin my Monday! I just stumbled across this highlight of Eric, and I am now so charged up and inspired. What a beautiful story. Congratulations, Eric! Such adhikara!