Our Real Work: Jess Ryan, MS

Coaching and consulting. Something's calling. It's your life.

October 9, 2016
by jessryan
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i am mother.

This week’s post is a guest post written by my colleague and friend Emily Brown. We are co-teaching a local workshop called I Am Mother. Check it out HERE.


I often wish that my children could have met me before I became this thing called mother. I wish they could have seen my free spirit and thirst for adventure when it was just me. I wish my old self could spend a day with them, running wild through open spaces, drenched in optimism and best intentions.

But, it turns out, these little beings are exactly what makes me mother. My old self could have never known or understood how deeply being their mother would change who I was.

My motherhood journey began when I was first faced with the realization that I may never become one. I married young and it was always just assumed we would have children. There was never a discussion about our expectations or that we could expect something other. At the time, it hadn’t even occurred to me that some people choose to not become a parent.

Then I got pregnant and miscarried. Then I got pregnant again. And miscarried again. At that point, as I scrolled through the internet reading article after article telling me I COULD still have children and scrolled through article after article telling me I likely WOULDN’T have children, I knew that no matter what happened, I was a mother. I was changed in a way only mothers can be. My grief was deep and my heart touched in a way I had never known before.

It has been six years since the birth of my first child. These days, I mostly feel tired and weighed down by how I have experienced parenthood in a way that is markedly different than my husband. The feeling that motherhood has confused and scrambled my whole identity has been almost impossible for me to express. I lack the time and energy to examine my exhaust and navigate with awareness this thing that I have become, called mother.

And then, one day, I had to quit a bike race half way through and I was crazy pissed off. I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t physically do it. It was a 50 mile race that I had done several times Before (yes, Before with a capital B means, before I was a mother). I have never been an outstanding athlete or accomplished much physically that would warrant even a raised eyebrow. But I finished, and I finished a lot of races. In my mind I was an athlete. Then I wasn’t, and to me, that has been the disorienting journey of motherhood. This time around, I got on my bike with very little preparation and the old mindset of “athlete”. The first 10 miles felt good, inspiring even, but almost every mile after felt more and more deflating. By mile 22, I knew. I knew I couldn’t finish. I knew I was no longer what I was.

At mile 27 my kids, my mom, and my dad were on course ringing cowbells and cheering obnoxiously. I stopped so they could snap a photo and I didn’t start again. My daughter hopped onto my bicycle seat and I walked my bike and myself away with them. I felt embarrassed and deeply disappointed.

I wanted my children to see their mother do something other than cook dinner, pick up the house, and run errands. I wanted them to watch and cheer as I crossed the finish line and for that memory to be etched in their minds when they remembered me. If all of this seems terribly dramatic, you’re right. It is. But, it’s really not about the race anyway. It’s about the evolution of who I am and the grieving and letting go of what I am not.

The atmosphere at the finish line was celebratory. Hundreds of racers were drinking beer and recounting the tales of the many miles biked that day. I ran into acquaintances and old friends whose race times just happened to be phenomenal and I had to try keeping the mood light when asked how my race went. I looked at the crowd of over 600 racers and left angry.

Here is my very gross, and probably inaccurate, summary of the race participants:  Of the females, maybe 1% are mothers and I would guess a good 25-30% of the males were dads. At least, that was the story I was telling myself. The reason this story matters to me is part of why I perceive parenthood being such a different experience for me and my husband.

When my husband became a father it seemed as though it was accompanied with a comma. He was teacher, biker, fixer, thinker, and father. When I became mother it felt more like it was drafted with a period. I am mother. And, in a culture where it seems to take so very little for man to be seen as a good father and so very little for a woman to be seen as a bad mother, I have always met that label with resistance.

Through my lense, it seems that I have had to give up so much and have been  met with judgement from all angles, whether personally or societally. This role comes with so many external pressures that I often feel like I am missing some “mom” gene or hormone that makes me love and cherish every second of raising children. While my husband gets to go to bed each night with a sense of accomplishment and a job well done, I seem to toss and turn while contemplating my failures as a mother.

Like many difficult moments in life, quitting the bike race was pivotal for some small awakening in my soul. It makes sense that “mother” is a lot to live up to. When we look at the mother archetype we see the giver of life. The protector, the nurturer, the life force of the entire universe. The mother represents unconditional love, devotion, and caring. The truth is, we all have aspects of the great mother within us, male and female.

We live in a culture that grossly undervalues and objectifies the feminine. It comes at us everyday in subtle ways with terms like, “you ____ like a girl” or “that’s good for a girl” and in more obvious ways like aggression and sexual violence towards both women and men who exhibit signs of femininity.  It is no wonder that those of us who represent the literal mother feel immense pressure to represent her in all her glory and power.

What if mother was not a role that represents sacrifice or failure? What is “mother” was enough? Biological birth or not, children or not, we are all and have been a mother of some kind. We have all created and fostered something, even if it’s just this very life we are living. We all have the capacity to love deeply and possess the healing power of “kissing the scratched knees” of our family, friends, and even ourselves.

I am no longer an athlete. I am no longer the free, adventurous, and self absorbed girl. I am less able to fly by the seat of pants and plan trips on a whim. I can no longer make decisions based solely on what I want. I can no longer finish 50 mile races. Right now. Or maybe ever.

I wake up, make coffee, juggle schedules, cook dinners, put bandaids on cuts and scratches, clean-up, arrange playdates, and read bedtime stories. For now, in this season, I am mother. And that is enough.


September 25, 2016
by jessryan

Boundaries for when saying no isn’t an option

Boundaries are about more than saying no (though sometimes practicing saying no to things we don’t really want to do is a good starting point). Boundaries and no get tied together because, well, saying no to outside influences, ideas, and actions is a way of defining our boundaries—super important if our boundaries are too porous or flexible.

But what happens when you can’t say no? I hear you: C’mon, Jess, you can always say no.

Yes, and no. Saying no to going to your sister’s wedding because you’re tired and not feeling well. It’s not going to fly. And if you have a good relationship with your sister, you want to be there . . . you just want to be there and be in bed at the same time. Or maybe she could just move it up a weekend . . . not going to happen.

Having boundaries is hard enough, but we don’t live in a bubble in isolation. We have relationships with family and friends and people at work. We are part of a greater community. How do we navigate the wants and needs of the people in our lives, who have wants and needs of their own, and stay true to ourselves and our personal boundaries?

Sometimes we don’t.

Sometimes our boundaries take a hit. Sometimes we cave. Sometimes we have to choose between equal, competing interests.  Sometimes life just happens.

And then we come back. We come back to the practices that ground us. We come back to our boundaries.

Very practically speaking when you feel like you’ve taken a big hit or are in a boundary, shame tailspin, here’s what you can do:

  • Ground and nourish yourself. Start by getting space. Then do something that brings you back to center: take a bath, get into nature, SET A BOUNDARY and take give yourself some time.


  • Reflect with space.
    What boundaries felt like they were being violated? How did I know?
    What were my actions? Emotions? Responses?
    What could I have done differently? (Sometimes there’s nothing you could do differently.)
    This check-in gets you out of reaction mode and puts you back on the path to healthy boundaries. Know what happened and how you dealt with it. But don’t beat yourself up about it.
  • Forgive.
    Practice forgiveness of others who violated your boundaries. Forgive yourself if weren’t able to honor your boundaries (always common for people who are working on building better boundaries) or forgive how you reacted and choices you made.  And sometimes, there is nothing to be forgiven. Funerals, weddings, birthday parties, important business trips sometimes coincide with illness, other life events, and unforeseen incidents. Sometimes it’s more about surrendering and accepting than it is about forgiving.
  • Focus on the positive.
    What did I do really well? Remind yourself not of where you felt you failed, but where you held strong, where you nurtured yourself, listened to your own needs, stood strong.
  • How can I take care of myself now?
    Most of us forget this one: the how I can I mend and nurture myself right now step?  (And this can happen moments, days or WEEKS after boundaries have been tested.)

Sometimes life just gets crazy town. Boundaries can keep us balanced—except when they can’t. That’s when this step is so critical. If you haven’t been taken care of some part (or parts of yourself), stop and do that. It could be taking a day off to rest and reconnect with yourself—or it could be a few deep breaths to center yourself right now.

Boundaries aren’t something you establish and cross off your list. They are something you develop and maintain and tweak. You can have really healthy boundaries and have everything fall to crap, so you turn back to your center, back to you boundaries.

My sister, brother, and I at the wedding. I wasn't going to miss THIS.

My sister, brother, and I at the wedding. I wasn’t going to miss THIS.

You let go of shame and anger and resentment. You let go of overwhelm and set up that safe space for you to interact in your body and mind and spirit. You set up that space where you show up in relationships and connect and hold true to yourself too.

Are you violating your own boundaries? Letting somebody else do it? Feeling like life itself is storming the walls of your boundaries? You can do something about it. Start now.

My online boundaries course will be opening up soon to help you develop healthier boundaries in the real world—like the one where your sister gets married when you’re feeling sick and you want to do all the things but feel the overwhelm because you just can’t.

Sign up HERE and you be among the first to know when the course opens.

September 11, 2016
by jessryan

Hey, empaths and healers, are you a groper?

Do you ever find yourself overloaded with other people’s emotions and feelings? Can you tell when family members are sad or about to burst into anger, even if they don’t say anything? Have you walked past someone in a grocery store and been able to tell that they carried grief, longing, abuse, or joy in their system—without ever exchanging words?

Hello, fellow empaths.

Now another question: when you know these things do you want to fix things or make it better? Maybe you even took a job—like a doctor or yoga teacher or therapist— that puts you in a position to help?

Hello, fellow helpers and healers.

We are well-intentioned folks. We’re hyper aware of other people’s baggage, we want to help heal others. We ask, “What’s wrong?” and “What can I help with?” (Is any of this sounding familiar?) We know there is something awonk with a person before that person actually knows there is something wrong.

Guess what? This can actually annoy the bejeebers out of other people. And it can wreak havoc in our own systems.

We need to stop groping other people. While we’re not physically feeling people up (I hope), we grope their energy. We assess what’s wrong on an energetic level and then try to fix it with our actions, questions, behaviors, and even our own energy. Think about that. Talk about invading personal {energetic} space.

Confession: I used to grope people’s energy. I didn’t know I was doing it. I thought I was being helpful and mitigating uncomfortable situations. Turns out, I was jumping in to rescue and heal people, because of my own discomfort. It wasn’t fair to the other person and I ended up carry a lot of burdens that weren’t mine to carry.

Now, I only check in with people’s energy systems if there are appropriate boundaries around it. Say, working with a client. They’ve given permission, and we’re working together toward healing. But, if I start covertly poking around in people’s systems because I walk into a party and I noticed something off with the person in the corner with the overly bright face? Not good, friend.

I know, we’re just trying to help.

It’s true, but without healthy boundaries we take on other people’s junk AND we take away the chance for our loved ones and friends to be with and heal their OWN stuff. Because, get this, we’re not going to heal anyone else. We’re not supposed to. We might hold a safe container, provide direction and support, but we CAN’T actually heal anyone else other than ourselves. When we try it leads to burnout, illness, depression, co-dependency, unhealthy relationships, and feelings of hopelessness, victimhood, and resentment.

Healthy boundaries teach you how to hear and honor yourself. When you can hear and know yourself from that authentic and aligned place THAT is where you truly hold space for the suffering in the world. You are solid and grounded enough to hold the container of healing space as a partner, parent, community-member, leader, healer. Healthy boundaries are about healing and helping––yourself and the world.

So fellow empaths, healers, and helpers, take some time to turn your attention to yourself. Are you boundaries clear and healthy—not too flimsy, not too rigid? Are they aligned in all areas: physical, relational, emotional, energetic, and spiritual?

I’m guessing the answer is no (myself included somedays––boundaries are a practice.) Most people could use healthier boundaries, and if you have them, it’s good to check in from time to time and see if you need a tune up.

Focus on you (no, it’s not selfish)

One of the first steps to better boundaries is awareness. So try these two exercises to check in with yourself.

  • Identify three ways you can increase your self-awareness. (Journaling, stopping to breath and check in with your body for 5 minutes a day, meditation, yoga.) Schedule a few minutes EVERYDAY, over the next week developing greater self-awareness and jot down your observations.
  • For 24 hours notice how you act, and whether it’s the same or different, around all of your peers, co-workers, strangers, family members, etc. Simply notice. Afterward, reflect on what you discover.

Then take some time to ground yourself. Literally feel your feet on the ground. Close your eyes if that’s comfortable or go into soft focus and feel the physical presence of your body. Notice your breath. Start taking slow deep breaths in and out through nose, feel the belly expand. Practice this for a moment or two throughout the day, perhaps when you feel ungrounded or noticing yourself groping—or at certain times, just to remind yourself to come back to your own body, your own person, your own self.


My online, self-paced, boundaries course will be opening up soon to help you develop healthier boundaries. Stop taking on other people’s junk and start helping and healing from a place of groundedness. Sign up here and you’ll be among the first to know when the course opens and you’ll also receive a special discount: 

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August 28, 2016
by jessryan

When getting off the beaten path pays off (and when it doesn’t)

Our family went to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks last weekend. We’re amazingly lucky that this is drivable for us. We’ve seen so much of these wild lands when we lived there. Still, a part of me always feel pressure to see it all.

Fear of missing out (FOMO) meet the national parks. Note: You can’t do it all. Yellowstone alone is 3500 square miles. We spent 12 of 36 hours in the car. And when we were on foot, there were little legs doing some of the walking. So we had to make choices.

Best choice? Just go.

(Fun fact: the National Park Service is celebrating 100 years this year. If you need an excuse to get yourself to a park, go say happy birthday.)

I love the National Parks. They focus on getting people to see and preserve the beautiful spaces around the world. They are amazing spaces and . . . a little paradoxical.

There’s a crowd management function and a surface approach to what it is like to be in wilderness. Stay on the trails, following the rules, look at this shiny, beautiful thing over here. But it’s where people have to start; falling in love with the surface enough to commit to a deeper relationship with it.

Long ago, I was a park naturalist (cute picture of idealistic me in a flat hat) and did my graduate work there. Ten years later, I experienced it completely differently. So much has happened since then: birth, deaths, moves (seven to be exact). I’ve forgotten names of plants and places. Yet this is the place that taught me how to explore, go deeper, and fall in love with all the other places I’ve lived. It taught me to get out of my comfort zone and immerse myself in a place physically, energetically, emotionally, and spiritually.

So I hope you visit and feel the awe of Old Faithful erupting.

Old Faithful at sunset. No filters. Awesome lighting due to wildfires. We drove into the park as everyone was leaving. Call us crazy.

And breathe in majesty of the mountains and find this much joy in open space:

Just back from 2.5 miles hike at Jenny Lake hike. Soaking the toes, soaking up the smiles and scenery.

I hope you feel small in the huge world around them. I hope you feel part of the bigger world, even if you stay on the boardwalk or the heavily beaten path. I hope you actually experience, and not just see through your camera lens or cell phone screen.

And I hope a few of you will step off that heavily beaten path, where wilderness seems a little more tame and controlled and the open space is full of people, to what lies beyond.

Because if you walk a few hundred yards away from the main attractions, you’ll be amazed at the solitude, wilderness, and pristine beauty. So many people get so close and never see it.

Okay, sometimes you want to stay on the beaten path. Like here:

Near the Grand Prismatic Pool at dusk. This is a place you definitely want to stay on the boardwalks and trails  . . . the boiling hot caldera underneath = death.

Sometimes you don’t have stray off the path, just look the other way

The edge of the Grand Prismatic Pool at dusk facing away from the sunset.

Or be patient for a few minutes to watch the light change:

Still at the Grand Prismatic Pool at sunset (Still no filters. Amazing what life, unfiltered can look like.)

And sometimes you need to get a little lost. Saturday night I just about lost my shit due to the incessant noise of one little person, who, to be fair, was rocking camping and hiking his little legs off. It’s been a rough few weeks, and I was frazzled. It’s why we ran got away, right?

Anyway, I meant to go to a ranger program, but took a wrong turn. 200 yards off the path, I ended up on the Snake River at sunset by myself. Hello, peace. Hello beauty. Hello, restoration.

Snake River at sunset (You can see the wildfire starting in the background that would have this entire area engulfed in smoke and close the roads and South entrance into Yellowstone two days later.)

Once you remember why you got off the beaten path, once you spend some time alone, you want to share it.

Sunday morning: Took my family off the beaten path to show them the beautiful river…and threw some rocks, played in the river, and caught bugs with no one but us and the wild beasts.

Our visit wasn’t an escape from the chaos, just from the one we had been in. We logged a lot of hours in the car, endured a certain amount of whining, faced crowds and clouds of smoke, and got out of our every day. We moved away from the surface. We became more here.

So when a little milestone happened on the way home, we were present enough to see it happening.

To more beauty, exploration, and presence in your life these days.

August 14, 2016
by jessryan

I Dropped Out of Law School for This: What Yoga Teacher Training Taught Me

Grab your mat, a block, and strap. We’re going deeper. In asana practice (the physical practice of yoga), people assume going deeper often means bending further, stretching more, or adding an arm balance pose. But that’s not the only way to deepen your yoga practice. There’s meditation, breathwork, self-study, reflection, and more. Yoga teacher training was the gateway for taking my weekly-practice deeper, and it was a deep, deep dive. I know, a lot of you out there might be thinking, “But I don’t want to teach yoga. I hate public speaking. I don’t want everyone watching me, I can’t even ‘do’ yoga that well.”  Wait for it . . . you don’t have to want to teach yoga to take part in a yoga teacher training.

It’s true, if you complete the yoga teacher training, you have the certification to be a yoga teacher (if you want to), but you have so much more. It provides community, the tools and support to become a confident and heart-felt yoga teacher, it helps you realize you have the tools to navigate major life changes and it awakens your dharma, your purpose.

Yoga teacher training is about coming into a deeper relationship and understanding of what’s happening in your own inner landscape.

Let’s commence naval gazing, shall we?

I know that’s what people sometimes think when it comes to yoga teachers or even yoga in general. It’s so woo woo and out there and at the same time self-centered.

Heart-centered describes yoga, and so can self-centered. Not small “s” self.  Think big “S” Self; the higher, more connected version of you. Your Self-centeredness, that focus on your own microcosm, approached with compassion, curiosity, and awareness, affects the macrocosm. In other words, touching your toes may not save the world, but yoga could. When you go deep into your body and breath, when you work on contentedness and compassion (even when the real world is swirling around you), when you practice other yoga principles that don’t make pretty pictures for the cover of magazines, it’s not just about you.

A yoga teacher may tell you that yoga can change your life. And it can. But you can go deeper. Learn more. Practice and practice and practice. You’ll change your life and change the world beyond you—even if you never stand in front of a class or walk one student through a sun salutation.

And if you’re thinking you need to “know” more or get more flexible or be able to do an unsupported headstand before you start, you don’t. Start where you are with curiosity and intention. Start with your desire to experience yourself more deeply. Start ready to explore parts of yoga you may not have even considered yet. Start on a journey that will change you and the world you touch.

Are you curious about postures and pranayama and meditation? Do you wonder about how different poses affect different parts of your body physically and energetically? Are you ready to go deeper? Do you want to awaken your dharma?

The dharma. Integrative Yoga Teacher Training program starts in October. Check out all the deets here. Sign up starts August 15 and early bird rates end September 15.

Questions about yoga teacher training? Share them here:

July 31, 2016
by jessryan

Well, I didn’t see that coming this year––living in limbo

This summer I’ve been on the road for work and pleasure. I’ve been living out of suitcases. Scaling piles of laundry when I get back. Hustling to get things ready before I go again. I’m excited to go. It’s good to be home.

I’ve been packing. Buying a house. Getting ready to leave a house. Trying to figure out what I can let go of, what I want to keep. What I can do without right now. I’m sorting memories and planning where the table and bookcases and beds will go. Physically I’m still in one space, but emotionally, I’m starting to check out (and freak out).

I’ve been working two businesses. Collaborating. Doing my own thing. Working on a book and creating a new course. Sometimes it feels like neither will ever be done. Am I trying to do too much—or not pushing myself hard enough?

I’m on the verge of endings and beginnings. Clinging to what was/still is kinda . . . and jumping ahead to what will be. Slogging through the work to get to where I’m going. Nothing feels done. Nothing feels settled. I’m in the messy middle.

Yet, if nothing else, life has taught me change is inevitable and I might as well embrace the messy middle, because the messy middle, this in-between limbo, IS life. (You don’t have to love it or feel all puppies and kittens about it—but surrender to it. Because, believe you and me, trying to pick a fight with chaos and transition…well, good luck. I’ve gone that route before. Insert crazy-face emoticon.)

If you’ve been on the road literally or figuratively, it’s time to open your eyes on that journey. Accept that there will be some discomfort, a sense of uncertainty about what will happen next. For some people that uncertainty is a thrill, but for others it’s incredibly unsettling. How do we face the lack of familiar, the lack of routine?

Start by getting grounded. A regular yoga practice can help. “But I’m on the road, remember?” When life is feeling like it’s flying off the rails, we tend to abandon any grounding practices we have. We forget about yoga, stop exercising, eat whatever we can find at a rest stop. (I’m humbly suggesting you might want to pass on sushi being sold at gas stations. Trust me on this one.) But the more we weave in the things that keep us flowing smoothly, the better we feel, the more we are able to access our authentic knowing, and hear our inner voice in the swirling cosmos of chaos, no matter where we are.

Practice mindfulness and acceptance. Even if you’re stuck in traffic or on the side of the road with a flat. (So, yeah, both of those are really hard ones, so practice that mindfulness and acceptance while you’re cruising down the road on a gorgeous day first, OK?) And then when you see the brake lights up ahead, breathe into it. (You never know what you’ll see stopped on the highway . . . a moose stepping off into the trees by the roadside, some dude standing on the roof of his car to take a picture, a double rainbow.)

Finally, trust. Trust that your luggage will get there with you, that you’ll find the box you packed the sheets in, that you’ll someday feel less in limbo in your new space, that you will get done that big project you’ve been working on—that it will never really be smooth and easy sailing, but that you can live with that. Because “that” is movement, integration, relationship, growth, surrender and THAT is the beautiful thing called your sweet, sweet life.

In the comments below, let us know how you navigate internal or external transitions:

July 17, 2016
by jessryan

Why Touching Your Toes Won’t Save the World…But Yoga Could

When it comes to grounding and hearing your intuition, figuring out what you are meant to do on this earth plane, and how to be of service when the world seems a bit crazytown, I recommend two things (both completely legal):

Nature. And yoga.

Nature reminds you that you are part of something bigger. When you connect with the earth, you remember you are part of a collective and instinctive pulse that often gets crowded out by daily to-do lists and sociopathic media. If the birds and mountains are here (without cell phones), there is certainly a deeper reason you are here than running in the rat race mania.

Yoga has that same capacity to illuminate our deep knowing, empathy, belonging, and intuition. It’s not about the pretzely poses you see on the cover of Yoga Journal. Yoga isn’t about flexibility or relaxation or exercise, though those things can be part of your practice. When I ask people about their yoga practice, most talk about asana, maybe meditation.

Both of these are powerful practices. If that’s what yoga is to you right now, do it. Those two practices along with pranayama, or breathing practices, are some of the best ways to promote self-regulation, self-awareness, curiosity, the rewiring of your brain, and training the nervous system to effectively process trauma, fear, and anxiety while finding calm, trust, safety, and connection.  So by all means, keep doing the physical practice of yoga, meditate, and breath! You and this world will be a better place for it.

In addition to spending time on your mat, here are five other ways to work a little more yoga into your life:


  • Cultivate contentment. Next time you find yourself lamenting what you don’t have, remind yourself of something you do. I wish we had more space turns into we have a roof over our heads and happy memories in this home.
  • Practice compassion. Be kind to yourself and others. This could be a kind action to a loved one or stranger. I could mean holding back harsh words. Or it could mean listening to your own body and not pushing too far. It could be remembering that we’re all human beings, with loved ones and fears, families, joys, and sorrows. Compassion leads to empathy.
  • Avoid jealousy. Try applying this one to your asana practice. Instead of wanting to be or do what you see on the next mat over, focus on your own practice, your own body, your own amazing being. Be awed and humbled by what you can do right now.  We all carry our lives experiences inside our bodies. Do not compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.
  • Practice nonstealing. Don’t take other people’s stuff. Duh. But what about time? When you run late, you steal other people’s time. Same thing when you monopolize conversations or meetings. Think about it. Leave a little earlier. Listen a little more.
  • Let go of “stuff.” Decluttering space helps declutter your mind (for reals), and letting go of things you don’t need makes room for new energy. Trust that you will have what you need instead of hoarding things to cling to the past or prepare for just in case. (Note to self: Ask “Do I really need this?” as I’m packing to move.)

There are so many ways to live your yoga and live more fully every day. I’m going to be at the South Dakota Yoga Conference with my partners from dharma. later this week. We’re leading a 90-minute session called “Awakening Your Dhama” to help people bridge the gap between wanting to live more fully and actually doing it.

If you’re at the South Dakota Yoga Conference, come join us! Can’t make it there, but ready to step up on onto life’s path? Carve out 50 minutes to get into your body with this yoga class I taught a few years ago.

I’d love to hear how you define your yoga practice and what it’s like these days? Tell us in comments below.

June 19, 2016
by jessryan

Enjoy the light. Welcome back the dark?

The longest day of the year arrives tomorrow. Yay! It’s a reason for celebration (unless maybe you are the parent of a toddler).

With solstice we welcome summer officially. I’m almost convinced we won’t see snow fly again for a few months. But already, our schedule has shifted with the sun. Dinner and bedtime have crept later as the light holds us outside just a little longer.

This time of year I find the light doesn’t fit with our rest-of-the-year rhythms. With the sun still streaming, I glance at the clock and it’s 7:30 already. Whaaat? It’s hard to wind down and close the day.

I love these long days that seem to stretch into the next. Can you feel the expansiveness of this season? We follow the light, drawn like a moth to a flame, a plant toward the sun or any light giving it what it needs to grow and thrive.

Do you savor each minute of daylight?

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the darkness is coming. June 20 marks the longest day of the year this year, which means June 21 is a little shorter. Even as we break into what, for many, is a season of light and sunshine, we will see a little less of the sun each day.

Am I killing your sun-kissed, light loving vibe? I’m not trying to be a downer. Summer solstice tends to be filled with light and celebration. In summer we tend to turn outward, and summer solstice always feels like a high energy day. Unlike its winter counterpart.

At winter solstice, I find myself turning inward? You too? We sit in the dark, but we welcome back the light. We hold both sides together. We look at dark and light not as sides but as parts of one whole? Why should the summer solstice be any less of a paradox?

I think it’s because we crave light and are uncomfortable with the darkness. But it turns out you can hold both, sit with both with ease, if you choose. This summer solstice, go ahead and celebrate the light, but make some room for the darkness too. Watch the light shift as the sun finally does set. Stay out until the night sky finally grows inky. Feel how different the summer darkness feels from the winter darkness. It’s not just the temperature, is it?

This summer solstice enjoy your sun. Do your sun salutations. Let your bonfire blaze. Tap into the energy of renewal and beginnings to new intentions. Stay up late and honor the fullness of the long day. Do whatever it is that celebrates the light and life and start of summer…that celebrates the light and life that is in you.

And open yourself to the coming dark. Feel them both. And listen to this meditation. Yes, I shared it in the depth of winter when the dark was most upon us. But the paradox of light and dark is here with us now too. Are you willing to go there? Try it—see what light cracks opens for you.

Get the Soulstice meditation HERE.

June 5, 2016
by jessryan

From insects to intuition and bbqs to boundaries

I blame the change on the sun. It’s light out longer and people are up later, outside more, generally more relaxed. We eat outside. Walk, run. Finally see people who were buried in snow drifts all winter. Maybe we get our hands in the dirt or our feet firmly on the ground.

The world—the outdoors, natural world—calls us to notice with warmth and light and color and sound. Showy pink peonies, bright red poppies, the insects calling at night, the trees tuning up before a storm . . .  

We’re called outward at this time of year. Called to be out of our houses and offices, notice the outdoors, feel the world through our skin. How does that affect our ability to listen within? Honestly, being outside is my greatest lens for looking inward. This is where I hear God, the Mystery, something beyond myself.

Noticing ourselves in the context of the bigger world can help us get quiet. The crickets and cicadas aren’t nearly as distracting as, say, the constant stream of social media. The small we feel on the top of a mountain or under a giant sequoia or looking at the oceans or a vast plain is very different than the small we feel from the voices around and inside of us saying “not enough.”

So, this time of year, we shift from inside to out (which ultimately brings us inward). We change pace and rhythm, just like the cycles of the natural world.

I tend to think of summer as vacation time. Call it a throwback to being in school and being married to a teacher. Summer was a break from classes, sleeping in. A different rhythm. Even today, summer has a different tempo. But is it slower or more frenetic?

I love the idea of lazy summer days, but are they real? For any of us?

Think about the parties and barbecues, the fireworks and festivities. You want to get to the beach or pick berries, camp or cook out. You’re hustling to get away or trying to catch up when you’re back (the laundry, the weeds!) Summer fills up fast. What boundaries can you set up to have a summer that feels expansive, not oppressive?

Summer offers a host of opportunities to connect with family, neighbors, and friends, but that doesn’t mean you need to say yes to every invitation. It doesn’t mean you can’t set up expectations for house guests. It may mean putting away devices and focusing on the people in front of you. Or loosening your hold on expectations of how things should be or how they will go. And it may mean opening up a little wider to say yes to possibilities.

These are things you can decide. Not just in summer, but every day. What do you want—and need—from this season? What can you do to be part of summer, to flow with it rather than be swept away by it?

Summer is just starting (we don’t even welcome it for realsies until a few weeks from now). How are you going to use the warmth of this season to loosen and open and go deeper into yourself?

Stop for a minute, step outside. Get still. Listen. What is this summer going to look like for you?

May 22, 2016
by jessryan

7 ways you might be out of whack…or totally ok

Curious how your body, mind, emotions, and spirit are trying to help you to live a more purposeful and aligned life? We all have a built-in navigational system. It’s just a matter of whether or not we know how to use it. If you want to know more about this sure-fire way to hone in on your life’s work, build better boundaries and relationships, heal, and live your life on purpose say hello to your chakras.

These energy centers are POWERFUL.  More importantly, the roadmap they can provide for your internal landscape is invaluable. When you know what they represent and where they reside in your system, you have a map to healing and alignment. When they’re out of balance, it can seriously throw you off. (Ask me how I know.)

If you don’t know what the heck chakras are, let’s take a quick look—and talk about why you should care. If you’re already on a first name basis with your chakras (yogi and energy healing peeps, I’m looking at you), just take a minute to check in with your chakras and re-visit these little wonders.

Are you grounded these days? The root chakra is related to our ability to feel safe, secure, and grounded in the physical realm. If your root chakra needs a little work, do something that reconnects you with your body and nature (I got a reminder recently about connecting with something bigger). Focusing on the root chakra can also help with physical boundaries and your physical space as well bringing about clarity in work and family.

The sacral chakra is related to our ability to create, express, and feel worthy. This chakras is also tied to themes like 1:1 relationships (relational boundaries, anyone?), power, money, sexuality, life force, shame (wonder if Brené knows about the sacral chakra). This chakra is the key to getting past a holiday bender, life transition—and so much more.

The solar plexus chakra is related to our ability to feel confident and honor ourselves. If your self-esteem is strong and you always act like yourself no matter the situation, you’ve got a balanced solar plexus chakra to thank. If on the other hand you fall apart when others don’t get you, it’s time for a solar plexus tune up. This is also the seat of, wait for it . . . personal boundaries (told you they were connected.)

Not surprisingly, the heart chakra is related to our ability give and receive love. With a balanced heart chakra, we’re compassionate with ourselves and others. If you have trouble forgiving other people—or yourself—that’s all heart chakra. With the heart chakra tied to love, grief, joy, jealousy . . . you can see how emotional boundaries are linked so intimately with our heart center.

Blaming communication issues on Mercury retrograde? There’s that. There’s also your throat chakra, seat of communication. This chakra is tied to to our ability to not only communicate, but also to express who we are, what we want, and live authentically.

Has anyone ever told you that you were in denial? Are you too logical and not imaginative enough? Do you set your sights low or secretly fear success? That, my friend is your third eye chakra at work. The third eye chakra is related to our ability to trust intuition and balance it with intelligence. All in your head? Yes, but are your left and right brain in flow? Let’s talk mental boundaries. With all the intuitive work I do, this one plays a big role here.

Finally, the crown chakra. If you are at peace with yourself and have a strong sense of life purpose, that’s your crown chakra. This center is related to spirituality, so it goes hand in hand with spiritual boundaries. The crown chakra is also tied to our ability to connect ourselves to something bigger. (Sound familiar? It loops around to the root chakra, because we can only rise up to heavenly energies as much as we can experience and root into the physical realm.)

That’s a whirlwind tour of the chakras. Intrigued? Wondering about your own chakra balance and what you can do about it? I’ve got you covered.

You can grab you own lovely chakra cheat sheet HERE and download my free class, Chakras in the Real World, HERE. (While you’re listening to the class, fill out the Chakra Indicator Survey HERE.)

In the comments below, let us know what how learning about or working on your chakras has changed your understanding of yourself.