You Can’t Muscle Through Breath: Ryan Brady

Ryan in his home in Binghamton, NY.

“I’m considerably different because of yoga. I’ve always been good under pressure, but I’ve done it by holding my breath and biting my lip to muscle through whatever life threw at me. The best lesson yoga taught me was in my second class ever. My instructor told me to try less.

It took six months for me to even understand what that meant. I was like, try less? How do you begin to do that when all we’re taught to do is try harder and do the best we possibly can? It’s taken me a long time to be able to let things go, both in my physical practice with my poses and in my everyday life. 

Ryan reflecting on his yoga journey in coffee shop in Binghamton, NY.

I wouldn’t trade my past for anything, because it’s made me the person that I am today. Losing my job and getting divorced forced me to look in the mirror and really discover who I was and what I’m passionate about. That 30-day time span when I lost both my job and my marriage, I was constantly in fight or flight. After going through the evaluation process of what’s really important, I went back to what I loved.

That was remodeling houses and playing basketball. It took a lot of self-reflection and starting from scratch, but I can now confidently say: yes, these are the things that make me feel good.

Ryan showing his artwork at his home in Binghamton, NY.

What I like most about yoga is I’m not a “soldier” when I come to class. I don’t have direct reports, I don’t have a manager, I don’t have to be accountable for anyone other than myself. I took the divorce as a recovery process and isolated myself to a point where I could quiet all of the noise. I spent about two years alone with myself, which was hard. But I knew it was the only way for me to get to the core of what I am and who I am.

During that time I confirmed I was dyslexic, which I sort of always knew. In the same sense, I discovered I could figure just about anything out. I started drawing and sketching again, and then giving that art away. Selfishly, it helps me channel different feelings and to pay more attention to my emotions. Being able to create organic lines and not having to stick to any one thought is a very freeing process. Drawing and yoga are extremely similar in that way; they let your mind wander, while still keeping you focused and in tune with yourself.

binghamton ny. basketball, yoga, story
Ryan in his home in Binghamton, NY spinning a basketball on his finger.

I believe in the “long shot” and in giving everyone and everything a chance. When I decided to give yoga a chance, I signed up for an unlimited month. I told myself I was going to do as many classes in that 30 days that I possibly could because I wanted to know if it was a real challenge or if it would get easier. I don’t typically enjoy things I don’t have to work for, so if it got easier I would know yoga just wasn’t for me. At the end of that month I wanted to be able to say, I gave it everything I had. And I did. And I also fell in love with it in the process.

It gave me that “Men in Black” reset that I needed. Whether I was stressed out about my job, my personal life; whatever it was, I’d come out on class and the problem would no longer be on my radar and the worry would dissipate. It allows for that separation- to take on the rest of your day; week; month; life, however you chose to. Yoga’s a full decompression of my brain. It’s also taught me to be more vulnerable in the sense that I’m more open to feedback, whether that be from my instructor or from my boss at work. 

Ryan in his home reflecting on his yoga journey in Binghamton, NY.

Prior to my soul searching, I hardly let anyone in. I’m still new to this, but I’m learning how to share and be open with the people in my inner circle. I call them “Access Level 3.” 

I don’t know if it’s the physical or mental aspects of yoga- most likely both, but people have started to notice that I’m different. Everyone’s like, “What’s up? What are you doing differently?”. Nothing’s really new. I’m just starting to see the effects of yoga transcend into my everyday life. 

In the past two months, I’ve noticed that the progress I’ve made has led to breakthroughs in my personal life. I’m goofier for one- I usually fall on my face at least once a class, I’m more clear; I’m more aware; I’m stronger. I’m able to recognize small victories. I’m able to set realistic goals and expectations- and then surpass them. Before yoga, I was all about the end game. Now I can recognize that it’s in the progress where the true growth happens…you can’t muscle through breath.” – Ryan Brady

Check out our other inspiring stories of everyday yoga practitioners and please, #ShareToEmpowerALL ! We strive to provide yogis the opportunity to reflect upon, and share their journeys – with an underlying purpose to catapult others to believe that they too, can live fuller, more freeing and empowered lives.

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