Jenny Ravikumar

April 23rd, 2015

The Art of a Deep Breath

I work, live and breathe yoga, but I have a confession to make: sometimes it becomes a routine. It’s my entire life to write, teach and preach the practice of yoga. As someone who is always at the front of the room it is a blessing beyond words to be a student and step entirely outside of what I know.

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This week my pregnancy has been taking a beating on my mind, body and spirit. I spent much of this week crying, yelling and confused (hello hormones). On Monday night, I hadn’t slept well. I decided to wake up on Tuesday and adventure on a fun trip out with my beloved cousin. While we were shopping, we found a hideous maternity bathing suit that made me dread my favorite season and I experienced another emotional breakdown. I wasn’t feeling sexy or beautiful in any way. It was just one of those days when I felt like a fat, confused frog.


That evening, I was resisting going to yoga. I didn’t feel like seeing family and my mom & I had a standing Tuesday date. After my off day I wanted to lie in my pajamas and cry and sulk instead of opening my heart. Somehow after a lot of procrastinating I managed to get myself in the car at the very last moment possible and drive to my studio for kundalini.


As many of you know, kundalini and I have a special relationship. I love it so desperately as its one of the only styles of yoga that fully takes me out of myself. Part of the reason is that it isn’t predictable for me. I don’t know all the kriyas and as a complete student of the practice I am able to step into that roll. The chants and kriyas fill my heart with mystery and joy.


As I walked into my own studio with tears in my eyes and a tight heart, I was surrounded by not one, but two of my teachers as well as my mom. Something about their banter and laughter made me come a little bit alive as I settled into the mat.


Lizzie sat in front with her beautiful turban and started to lead us in practice, as my other teacher  Jacalynn and my mom sat on either side to physically and emotionally hold me up during practice. Once I began I started to feel myself melt. My shoulders dropped as the release sank in and the mediation began. As always, it was exactly what I needed: a set for paranoia and stress relief (hello again, pregnancy hormones).
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Melting into the mat and allowing each chant to vibrate throughout my body helped me to settle into the divine. As a woman business owner it is so difficult to walk the line between masculine and feminine. I am constantly making decisions about what is best for my business and my personal life and the balance is a beautiful tight rope dance. I have spent much of the past few months making sure Barefoot Yoga Shala will be okay while I’m on maternity leave and have left little time for pampering and sitting into the divinity of being pregnant.


My word for 2015 is Warrior Princess and these last few weeks I have found myself quite far from this realm. On Tuesday evening, as we chanted our mantras and moved into each kriya, I felt the Goddess returning. I was reminded of my inner goddess, my inner heart fire and the idea of the warrior princess. In the coming weeks I am vowing to make my way back to the mat as a student. I vow to honor my inner heart fire and stoke the goddess within by indulging in self-care and self-love. More bubble baths, cute clothes that fit my growing belly, getting my nails done and doing make-up on the weekends in my {maternity} jeans in order to step outside of my role as the teacher.


The yoga mat and the practice of a deep breath will always bring you back to yourself. It will bring you back to be exactly where you need to be. Today, take a deep breath and a moment to observe the world around you. Let it all sink in and then move forward towards your goals, your dreams and whatever piece of balance you need for THIS moment.


And always remember to honor yourself.


This week as I felt like a fat and confused frog, I honored that feeling. I allowed myself a few hours to wallow in sorrow and then I put one foot in front of the other and stepped into the only space that I knew would make me feel whole again: my yoga studio. When I awoke the next day, I honored feeling like a warrior princess by putting on make-up before teaching and reading a few chapters of Tending the Heart Fire to ignite my soul before class.


Honor how you feel in this moment. Live in the present. Breathe. And remember that the mat will allow you to travel back to yourself within the first few movements of breathe.


In the comments below, I would love to hear from you. Have you been honoring your feelings and living in the present? 


Sending you infinite love!

April 15th, 2015

Nama Say Wednesday: The Hips

Hip openers are literally sinking into trouble. They help us to peel back layers that we have consciously and subconsciously placed upon our physical and emotional bodies and sometimes we just don’t want any part of it.

How often have you been in pigeon and wanted to punch your teacher in the face for saying “one more breath” when she really means five and all you can think about is how much you hate her and the amount of pain you’re in?

Or suddenly a memory of your ex-lover comes shining into your face and every single emotion you felt over the course of your break-up comes streaming back into consciousness.

The second chakra, svadisthana, is located in our sacred organs (reproductive system, as well as our spleen and kidneys). The physical location can be found 2-3 inches below your navel… and it’s where we host a number of emotions: trust and distrust, past and current relationships, creation of children and new ideas, creativity and so much more. It’s one of the places we tend to feel the most vulnerable and when we open the hips it can often be like opening the unwanted can of worms.

svadisthana, chakra, orange, mandala

Svadisthana, the hip chakra

However, once everything is released, everything generally feels a little bit lighter.

When I first started practicing years ago, I didn’t immediately recognize anger as an emotion. I would sink into my half pigeon and silently curse my teachers all the while thinking “this pose isn’t emotional.” Due to the nature of some of my past relationships, it’s exactly how I was and should be feeling, but I didn’t recognize it at first. Hip openers are tricky because they don’t tell you what they want. Instead they allow you the opportunity to feel these intense emotions and dig deep to understand where the anger, sadness, joy and fear are coming from.

If you let them, hip openers will allow you to LET GO.

It’s so much easier said than done, but I do have a few tips!!!

  1. Concentrate on the color orange while in any hip opener. Orange is the color of svadisthana and will help ease you deeper into your muscles and allow whatever is troubling you to release.
  2. This is the space of fluidity and water may ease your mind as well. Start to feel the fluidity of your breath, the blood in your body and the creativity pulsing through your veins.
  3. Try to sit with everything that comes up. As all of my teachers say at the shala: “Inhale the good shit and exhale the BULLSHIT.” As an emotion arrives: honor it, thank it and then let it go!!! It serves no more purpose here and is very likely some old beliefs you no longer need.
  4. Forgive yourself.

The next time you find yourself in a delicious frog or pigeon pose, allow for release of any kind. Crying is always a good thing in yoga and if you’re in a safe space with a loving and kind teacher, you’ll be able to completely release whatever is no longer serving your physical and emotional body.

Good luck yogis!! {And perhaps tonight is the night you beg your teacher for a hip opening class… you never know what layers you’ll be able to peel back if you don’t try}.

As always, if you have any questions please ask them in the comments below. I would be happy to discuss hips with you.

Lots of love!