Ryan Leier: Bending into a mission for youth

Ryan Leier had only a handful of yoga classes under his mat when he decided to become a yoga teacher at age Ryan Leier- Seated26.

The Saskatoon resident had always wanted to be a teacher — of something — and enjoyed working with kids. But when he stumbled upon meditation in high school and then his first yoga class in university, he found a deep healing in the postures that would guide him into his life’s work.

Now 37, Ryan is the lion behind One Yoga, a vinyasa studio in Saskatoon that, just this January, will be opening a new studio in Victoria. One Yoga holds a strong online presence, a particular bent for youth-based yoga and a belief that steady practice will allow all to open their eyes and look within.

Ryan may be regarded as an ambassador of yoga to communities around the world, but while his mission is clear, it’s his quiet and humble nature that touches people’s hearts.

It was a teacher that spurred Ryan onto the idea that yoga is about a lot more than fancy poses. Growing up with extreme anxiety and depression, Ryan found himself able to cultivate tolerance and patience through his practice — both for situations and for his own emotional turmoil. It was that realization that made him want to do something to help serve others.

“One of my teachers said to me, ‘Well, why not try to give them [youth] the tools they will need before they get too far down the wrong road?’ and I guess it kinda stuck,” says Ryan.

Since then, Ryan has gone from school to school teaching yoga to youth who often experience this as their first exposure to the practice. The results may have affected the youth around him, but they have changed Ryan’s life.

“I’ve had some pretty cool experiences,” Ryan says. “One girl was in Grade 10 when I went to her high school and taught a class, and years later she showed up at one of my teacher-training courses and told me how yoga had changed her life and that she wanted to become a yoga teacher because of the class she’d had with me.”

When it comes to misconceptions, Ryan says he’s always frustrated to hear people say they are “too stiff” for yoga, or “too old.”

“There is a yoga for every single body. People in wheelchairs can practice yoga, and it’s usually the people who think they can’t or shouldn’t who need to do it most,” he says.

To hammer home the message, One Yoga is hosting the “40 Day: Personal Responsibility” challenge to inspire people to take their practice seriously for 40 days, from Jan. 12 to Feb. 20. While people can sign up at the studios and online, the mission is simply to get practicing.

“Yoga really isn’t about the poses. It’s to be or not to be, to do or not to do; it’s responding rather than reacting,” Ryan says. “Yoga replaces inappropriate habits with more appropriate habits.”

Learn more about Ryan at: http://ryanleier.com

Friend him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RyanLeierYoga

Follow her on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ryanleier

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