Pamela Ryan, licensed Massage Therapist since 1997, joined Jan Swift of Nourish Your Health to discuss the health benefits of Iyengar Yoga.
A Lafayette native, she returned to Louisiana after living many years in Dallas, and since 2017, has been a Yoga Instructor at the Jill Listi Dance Studio and also currently offers massage services at Pascale Spa, both in Lafayette.
Ryan is a certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher and undertook Yoga Training at Sivananda Ashram, Kerala, India. She served from 2000 to 2008 as an in-house Massage Therapist at the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy and traveled with the team for the US Gymnastics National Championships, the Pacific Alliance Meet, and World Championships. Ryan also worked as a Massage Therapist and Yoga Instructor for Bradie James, Defensive Captain for the Dallas Cowboys.
While there are over 200,000 yoga instructors in the U. S., there are only about 2,000 teaching Iyengar which takes a five-year commitment to become certified.
Iyengar yoga focuses on body mechanics, body awareness, and spatial orientation. Ryan stresses that most pain and physical restrictions people experience emanate from repetitive postural distortions resulting from our daily habits. This yoga practice specifically addresses proper alignment while teaching people to be mindful as they go about their day….sitting at a desk for hours at a time, gardening, or carrying children all take a toll and result in repetitive strain if not done in correct alignment.
Ryan suffered from childhood with kidney disease. She discovered the health benefits of yoga at the age of 28 when her mother found a book about yoga; at that time, Ryan had little muscle tone and was not strong. She developed a love of yoga from the beginning and enjoyed the naturopathic, personal way it confers good health. Through the practice of yoga, she has found the strength to maintain an active massage therapy practice. While most massage therapists are only physically able to work for seven years before having to retire from the practice, she is going strong at 24 years into her practice.
Ryan shared that “Yoga did for me what I wanted to do for everyone else. It gave me the freedom to recover emotionally. I was 28, with zero muscle tone or strength. I gained confidence and balance in my life. I became grounded. I’m a survivor.”
The physical practice of yoga allows you to become more thoughtful, more proactive, and gives the practitioner peace of mind. The benefit of the Iyengar yoga practice is that it is wellness-based and teaches how to be more aware of your own body, its limitations, and how to become aware of all of your surroundings and how they affect your body. “My goal is to get people off the massage table and take care of themselves. My tag line is ‘Empower your self.'”
Iyengar involves learning proper techniques in deep breathing, muscle contraction and inversion practices which all help the lymphatic system cleanse itself. In particular, inversion (hand stand) has many benefits for the lymphatic system as all fluids and wastes in the body have to make it back up to the area right below the collarbone; the inverted position rejuvenates the body allows it the opportunity to cleanse itself and ward off disease.
The power of the breath to calm the body has been proven to be effective and Iyengar yoga also trains the practitioner to be more aware of this simple tool. “The breath and the mind are inextricably linked, according to Ryan.
Ryan’s volunteer work includes being a founding member of Yoga Bridge in Dallas, which works with breast cancer patients. She has also volunteered in teaching yoga to the young men at the non-profit AMIkids in Branch, a group home that houses up to 36 nonviolent young men who are working to stay out of the justice system. Many of the boys don’t have emotional connections with others and yoga is an effective method in teaching them to learn discipline, mindfulness techniques and becoming aware of their surroundings so as to gain control of themselves. “They learn they have a choice in how they interact with others, with the world.”
Pamela Ryan may be reached on Facebook at Align Yoga. She is also available for massages and yoga instruction by calling Pascale Spa at (337)232-6449.