Kathryn Sienna passed away on April 3, 2020, in her 57th year. She was born July 27, 1963 in St. Louis, Missouri; the daughter of Aloysius V. and Virginia Lee “Ginny” (Heher) Grieshaber, the fifth of five children born of this union; the sister of Mark, Mary, David, and Matthew; the mother of Ely Kale Powell. She was preceded in death by her mother and her brother David.
She grew up in South St. Louis County, Missouri in a large Catholic family. Her father (originally from Ste. Genevieve, Missouri) was a dentist and her mother (originally from the City of St. Louis, Missouri) a homemaker. She was known in her family as “Katy.”
She was a 1981 graduate of Lindbergh High School in South St. Louis County. She attended College of the Atlantic — an innovative and unorthodox liberal arts college dedicated to the study and practice of human ecology — located on an island, in the middle of a national park, along the ocean, near Bar Harbor, Maine. She later went west to California, first to massage school in the late-1980s, then to yoga teacher training in the late-1990s. Upon completing her training in 1998 at The Yoga College of India in Los Angeles, she became a nationally certified yoga teacher.
What she learned in California formed the foundation for her life’s work: studying and practicing yoga, meditation, and bodywork. Such work, however, had roots pre-dating her time in California. It was, in her words, “ignited by my life-long inquiry with this exquisitely ordinary and yet bizarro-ly divine human embodiment we find ourselves in and fueled by my deep devotion to The Mystery of it all.” Over the years, she studied and practiced with many yoga and bodywork teachers, representing a rich variety of styles, traditions, and modalities. Not surprisingly, she described her teaching style as “both a personal and eclectic exploration of bodymind, breath, and spirit.” In her years at alleyCat Yoga in Columbia, Missouri, she was a popular and much-loved teacher of “eclectic Hatha,” “deep stretch,” and “vigorous yoga” classes and Thai yoga workshops. At alleyCat and in the broader Columbia community, she went by “Sienna.”
While she spent most of her life in the United States, she had a global mindset and a wanderlust that took her around the world from Bali in Indonesia to Isla Mujeres in Mexico, from the Amazon in Brazil to the Ganges in India, from the jungles of Thailand to the rain forests of Peru—and a number of places in between. Not one for mass-market tourism, her travels were instead highly personalized, off-the-beaten-path explorations that often involved living and working abroad for significant periods of time. Her travels also included volunteering at organizations such as the Missionaries of Charity, a Mother Teresa organization, in Kolkata, India (where she devoted over one year of her life) and the Peepal Farm, a woman-powered social enterprise devoted to reducing animal suffering, located in a small village near Dharmashala, India (where she served for a number of months). She viewed travel not only as one of life’s greatest adventures, but also an important means of self-discovery. In addition to traveling, she enjoyed being outdoors in nature (e.g., scubadiving, canoeing, walking in the woods), reading (e.g., anatomy/physiology, human consciousness, spirituality), spending time with and caring for animals, and getting on her yoga mat.
She was fond of the quote: “You say I am mysterious. Let me explain myself: In a land of oranges, I am faithful to apples” (E. Gidlow). She danced to the beat of a not-so-mainstream drummer, to the beat of the sacred within. And what a beautiful dance it was. She will be missed.
Thank you to students who contributed to this memorial of Sienna.