Ryan Conrad Tribute

Posted by on Mar 5, 2017 in Articles | 2 comments

Ryan Conrad Tribute

One week ago I said goodbye

On Thursday February 23, 2017 at 6:40am, Ryan Conrad, a friend, student, teacher, and mentor died peacefully, after a yearlong journey with cancer. On Friday, morning I arrived early to bring roses and see him one last time to say goodbye. He looked peaceful and seemed to smile when I recited a prayer for him. I sat beside him for a time and read from the Tibetan book of the dead. “His family and close friends gathered at his home as his body was carried away amidst rose petals, tears, and hugs. His body was 38 years old. His essence lives on.” Ryan Conrad Memorial Page

Our last talk…

Ryan was truly a unique and Renaissance man. And we all had so many different relationships with him. Ryan had to face a challenge we would wish on no one. He met the challenge with dignity and grace with compassion for himself and those around him. Two weeks before he passed Ryan called me in to say goodbye. A call I had been waiting for for sometime. We meditated together on the presence of Light and then we talked about yoga. He shared that his cancer was a relentless teacher that could not be ignored and also that if it had not been for yoga he would have had more trouble meeting that challenge.

Gazing at a photo of BKS Iyengar in Siddhasana on his alter, he mentioned his deep appreciation for the path of Iyengar yoga. How the foundation of the practice was dependable and practical, so one could be in awareness moment to moment. He shared his experience of the practice as creating a framework within which he could experience the depths of his being and find the integration of what is spiritual in physical form.

We also talked about his early life taking substances that created a spiritual experience artificially as being unsustainable and thus lacking in satisfaction. And how he loved the reliable map and pathways that are laid out in yoga, and enhanced by BKS Iyengar. Yoga created for Ryan the foundation of a practice that was so dependable that one could experience that which is expanded and spiritual in an integrated satisfying way with authenticity. He deemed it a much greater path.

We talked about yoga as the path of discovery and how it is an individual journey of practicing the poses over and over, even though we remember only one or two ‘ques’; yet take the time to puzzle over them until one day we discover how it all fits together. How our yoga journey leads us to connect deeply within ourselves.

Ryan shared how often in his practice he would struggle with a question, finally coming to an answer, and then he would find a passage where BKS Iyengar was addressing that exact experience which Ryan had just discovered. The reliability and depth of the Iyengar method was deeply satisfying to him.

Mastery and Fire

The practice of yoga in this method is the path of mastery; it is a passion, an inner fire. Mr. Iyengar clearly stated, “The Light of yoga once lit will never die, the stronger your practice the brighter the flame.”

Back in 2000, Ryan allowed me to light that passion within him, and after meeting BKS Iyengar in 2005 that passion of Ryan’s grew into a blaze, as it had done with me in similar circumstances back in 1984. A true teacher always hopes for the student that can turn their dream of mastery into a reality. Ryan was one such student and I am blessed to have been his inspiration and guide into Iyengar Yoga. He was indeed an expression of the best part of myself and I am sorry to see him go.

To my other students who have caught the Light and are now teachers, let us remember the ways in which we were also touched by Ryan’s passion and knowledge as we go forward in discipline to discover and share the journey of integration of body, mind, and spirit thru yoga.

I thank Ryan for taking that very deep passion and flame and making it his own, and loving my teacher, Gurugi, as much as I loved him. He recognized as many of us do, the value of a path that brings observation, honesty and presence to each moment of our practice and our life. Ryan’s yoga practice allowed him to step through his cancer journey with Grace and a presence of mind that may not have been available to him without it.

He had a sense of the Clear Light that is always available guiding us home to our true Self.

I thank Ryan for taking this passion that we share and living it with such integrity, elegance, compassion, kindness, and brilliance. I am forever grateful to be his witness.

In loving remembrance, Lillah Schwartz

Ryan Conrad Memorial Page

One Center Yoga’s Remembering Ryan.



  1. Absolutely beautiful. May he now rest and may you find peace in the journey.

  2. A beautiful tribute, thank you for sharing. We were acquaintances when I was attending your studio back in 2000 and we often crossed paths in Asheville’s small circles. What a rich life he lived, so sorry for those he left behind so soon. Rest in Peace friend.

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