Image taken by Matthias Hunkeler
Ryan Nance is a Yoga practitioner based in Los Angeles, California.
1. What was your first yoga experience?
My very first experience of yoga was when I was writing a travel story about a resort in Boca Raton, Florida about 12 or 15 years ago, and it was part of the outline my editor had developed for the story. It was outside, on a deck over the water. I don't remember much about it, but feeling awkward in downward dog.
2. What led to you continuing your practice?
A few years later, during a pretty substantial life change, I found Bikram yoga through a friend in Sarasota Florida and started going more regularly, like 2 times a week. I was playing a lot of pickup soccer at the time and the two exercises supported me well.
3. How long have you been practicing yoga? Asana and the other limbs of yoga.
Until this last year, I really only practiced Asana. I then began first brining pranayama into my practice. I had been a smoker for a long time, until about 10 years ago, and found deep breath a challenge, and I very much needed to work on deepening my breathing so that I could manage my stress levels better.
4. How do you incorporate yoga into your life?
Pranayama led very organically into focused attention, Dharana, and to meditation, Dhyana. As my practice has intensified I found the Yama and Niyama as resonant as I struggled to understand who I was underneath all the other things, particularly Satya (truthfulness), Saucha (cleanliness), and Samtosa (contentment). Just as I need to be truthful with myself when I am in an asana, so I want to be truthful in my actions and words off the mat.
I practice Asana everyday, even if briefly, like if I am traveling or busy. I begin each practice with a period of breathing and contemplation, sometimes turning into a meditation.
5. What’s the biggest change that you have noticed in your life?
The biggest change that this practice has brought to my life is in bringing coherence to my mind and emotions. While there are very obvious changes in my body, fitness and weight, it is the focused, clear and honest energy that I cultivate that has had the greatest impact and benefit to my wellbeing.
6. How do you make time to practice?
As I started to want to make my practice a more regular part of my life, the first thing I did was wake up an hour earlier so I could always count on getting my morning practice in. For the evening classes, it is a bit more challenging, but between protecting the time from other commitments for an evening class, or carving out time from the end of my work day, I have consistently been able to get to both a morning and evening class, nearly every day, since the beginning of the year.
7. What does yoga mean to you, off of your mat?
Through the practice of Yoga on the mat, I have connected and aligned my mind, body and heart to the source. I had struggled with strong emotions, often at war with one another, for most of my life. And through yoga, I have found that my emotions, and the experience of my mind, is even more vibrant and beautiful when they are coherent, aligned and honest. Off the mat, I have found deep stores of compassion for myself and for others as they struggle with their own misalignment. I have found great internal energy in connecting with other people, now clearly asking only to behold them in their own energy.
8. Do you see yourself practicing in the next ten or more years?
Very much so. I have been envisioning how I will be able to continue to practice all the way through the ages in front of me. I have shed a lot of the burden I had been accumulating as I got older, and can imagine how with this practice of energy hygiene I can keep myself light and clean, aging gracefully, gratefully and with intent.