by Cheri Dostal Ryba, Evolve Wellness
I asked a girlfriend of mine today during a Skype date if she’d describe me and my teaching in six words or less. I heard her speak: intentional, intelligent, outside-the-box, creative, and kind. She acknowledged her first yoga class had been power yoga; it opened the door for her to this practice. She talked about how her practice has matured over the past few years: learning to honor her energy and body’s wisdom to follow a practice that fits her needs each day. Our friendship blossoms as we celebrate our unique, and very different, strengths. She loves spreadsheets, I crave spontaneous adventure. I like wearing multiple patterns or brown, black, and navy together; she prefers matching sets. Yet we get good belly laughs and satisfaction in our souls when we connect. She brings balance to my world—and stood by my side this year as I married Jason overlooking the vast, sacred space we call Lake Superior.
I often hear Scott Anderson talk about Yoga as the unification of opposites. Through awareness and the gift of time, I’m learning and witnessing the moments of effortless balance between extremes, the middle path, union, the sweet connection of all things. Yoga practice, trail running, meditation, cooking, working out, relationships and love and change: these are all my teachers. Life is my practice. I feel as though my life is my business is my practice is my livelihood, all connected, intertwined. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel honored to guide people toward their birthrights of health, vitality, and happiness. I am blessed to guide others into more skillful awareness and action in their lives.
I danced in high school and had always been active (some might claim hyper-active) and motivated to move my body. I completed a BA in dance at UW–Stevens Point and knew since 2000 that I wanted to bring movement to the masses through teaching. When I started my business in 2007, I felt like I had come home. I love being an entrepreneur.
In some ways, yoga firmly found me. I had been referred by a colleague to take on a regular gig teaching yoga at Luther Hospital (now Mayo) in 2007 and thought to myself, “Well, I must practice and look into training.” I met with Sandra Helpsmeet in my baby-stages of developing a formal asana practice, and I remember her patience, always waiting for me to direct the experience. She introduced me to my now-mentor-and-friend, Donna Farhi. With decisiveness and a feeling of divine appointment, I went to New Zealand to train with Donna Farhi in January 2010, and have assisted her in Seattle, Austin, and Albuquerque. I often claim I am not a yoga purist; it is one of many ways we can become attuned to our authentic self and one way to open the door to understanding our body. My other primary mentor is Eric Franklin, creator of The Franklin Method, who challenges me to bring science and art together in my teaching with greater simplicity. In December 2013, I celebrated my thirteenth year of teaching. Such. Abundant. Gratitude.
I want to know what you practice on a daily basis (and I’m talking about more than asanas, or yoga poses.) Teaching awareness and embodiment is my dharma, my purpose. Really, it’s about loving life. Donna Farhi explains that through yoga “we practice nothing more than becoming a human being. Learning to be a human being is a life-long process. We can ask ourselves [this question]: Who am I becoming through this practice?”
My future goals (with yoga) in six words or less?
Write! Explore India. Surrender ego. Love.