Jenny Ravikumar

August 24th, 2015

July Ambassador: Stephanie Smith

I feel as though I say this during every interview, but I truly mean it: our ambassadors are OMazing!!!

 

Stephanie Smith is 1/3 of the Smith family that comes to Barefoot Yoga Shala. I was first introduced to her right after my return from India in a very funny and interesting way. While I had been away she and her husband, alongside her brother-in-law, had started attending the shala. I make it a part of my practice to connect with everyone as soon as I’m able in order to welcome them into our community.

 

Well, Stephanie’s brother-in-law is Steve and her husbands name is Craig. Having not met them in person, my first voicemail and email exchange found myself saying things like “Hi, it’s so nice to see you’ve come to the shala with your husband, or perhaps your sister? Umm… so it’s nice to see you’re coming and I look forward to meeting you!!”

 

Funny. Awkward. Totally perfect for our first interaction.

 

Stephanie, Craig and Steve are just beautiful souls inside and out, as you can CLEARLY see through Steph’s photoshoot. Her smile shines so brightly from within and it’s reflected in each of her photos.

 

Look at that smile!!!

Look at that smile!!!

She and her husband Craig are world travelers who met B.B. King (no biggie), among many other famous Jazz singers. You can learn more about her on their blog here!
Let’s dive in and get to know Stephanie a little better:

 

1) How long have you been practicing yoga?
I practiced briefly in college for P.E. credit. I liked it a lot, but I didn’t continue my practice when I transferred schools. That was 20 years ago now, and I only resumed my practice last November.
2) What drew you to the mat?
My brother-in-law started to practice, and I saw how much he was enjoying it. He suggested it to my husband Craig and myself, thinking that it would be good for us physically and mentally. Craig has MS, so we thought it would be good for his balance and strength. For me, it speaks to my longstanding love of dance and movement (I don’t enjoy traditional workouts, but this is more my speed), as well as a way to relieve stress.
3) Why do you practice at Barefoot?
We went to a few classes in Salem, but the location and timing weren’t convenient. We looked online for somewhere closer to home and decided to check out the Shala. Even though Jenny was on vacation in India when we first attended, we were immediately welcomed into the Barefoot family by the teachers and students.  We were already hooked by the time Jenny returned from India, and when we met her, it was solidified. We love the physical space of the studio, but most of all we love the people. It’s a sanctuary and a judgment free zone, and we have made so many new friends. Yoga at BYS is empowering and energizing. It’s an inclusive community full of love!
We had thought that if we were lucky, we could make it to two classes per week. But we enjoy it so much that we are currently attending five classes a week as well as occasional workshops.
4) You’re a world traveler, tell us about that!! How did you get started, and what keeps you going back for more?
Craig and I always liked to travel domestically, but in 2002 we decided to realize a lifelong dream to go to Machu Picchu in Peru. We had a fabulous local guide, and we have kept in contact for the past 13 years. We did a homestay with an indigenous family on Lake Titicaca, which was amazing. We realized that what we love most about travel is making personal connections and participating in cultural give-and-take.  No matter how different cultures may seem at first, we are all humans with the same basic needs, hopes, and dreams. It really puts things into perspective. We have made so many great friends around the world that we often return to the same places to see them again. And of course, we also visit new places and view that as an opportunity to make new friends!
5) You have many beautiful Godchildren around the world. Can you tell us a little about them and how you’ve brought yoga to their world?
We are blessed to have Godchildren in Guatemala, Ecuador, and China. Since Craig and I don’t have kids of our own, these lovely families that we met during our travels have offered to share their children with us, and we are very grateful! Although we live far away, they are always in our hearts and in our thoughts. Our relationship with their families has enriched our lives immensely, and we visit them as often as possible.
We traveled to visit out Godchildren in Ecuador over the 4th of July. They are 7, 5, and 3 years old (two girls and a boy). Craig and I wanted to continue our practice while we were there, and figured that it would be fun to teach the kids a few poses. They absolutely loved it! Despite the fact that I was giving instructions in English and a few Sanskrit words (and they speak their indigenous Kichwa dialect as well as Spanish – no English), they observed what we were doing and followed along. I was very impressed, and they were smiling and giggling the whole time. We practiced with them for over an hour. The youngest seemed to love downward dog, and after our initial practice, we noticed that she would slip into it during situations when she felt nervous or scared. It was cool to see her incorporate that into her behavior, taking yoga off the mat and using it as a real-world coping skill. (Coincidentally, her name is Shina Tayanta, which means Warrior Princess in Kichwa. Those of you who follow Jenny’s blog will remember that Warrior Princess is Jenny’s personal theme for 2015). We will definitely continue practicing with them on future visits!
6) What’s your favorite pose?
I actually find half pigeon to be very relaxing. But I am also really enjoying learning poses which are more challenging for me, such as headstand and wheel.
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7) What do the words soul warrior or spirit junkie mean to you? 
To be perfectly honest, when I started practicing last year, I hadn’t thought that I would really get into the spiritual aspect of practice. I was looking at it more for just relaxation and exercise. But I have totally flipped my perspective on that one! I am really seeing the impact of shifting my mindset to focus on the positive. Intention and manifestation are powerful, and I am really trying to distance myself from negativity and drama. Yoga really helps with that. We have been going through some life transitions lately, and it has really helped us to keep things in perspective and know that “we are exactly where we are supposed to be.”
Thank you, thank you, thank you Stephanie for representing Barefoot Yoga Shala this month. It was truly an honor to have you as an ambassador and also as a student.
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Much love & light,
Namaste
Jenny

August 19th, 2015

My Self-Care During Pregnancy

Life has definitely been getting more exciting around these parts! We are about to welcome our little yogi dude into the world and every day I feel as though I am racing against the clock. Owning your own business and going out on maternity leave can lead to some insane middle of the night thoughts: hello pregnancy insomnia!

This past week alone I have written 4 pre-scheduled emails, hired 2 new people at the Shala, created blog posts ready to be launched after he’s born, organized the nursery, packed/re-packed my hospital bag, did about 3 loads of our/baby’s laundry, cleaned our home, met with each of my teachers individually, created T-shirts and so much more. Those are just some of the little ducks I’m getting in the row so I feel “comfortable” handing over the reins to my AMAZING employees for a few weeks.

So what does a girl do when she’s a little stressed, about to have a baby and trying to hold everything together?

Self-care!!!

If you know anything about me or my blog, you know how important it is to take care of yourself. It’s NOT selfish to take that extra hour for a pedicure and to tell someone else NO for just a moment. You cell phone can wait, your family can survive… it’s just an hour.

For the past five weeks, I made myself a promise that I would do one nice thing for myself among my million and one errands and to-do lists. A promise to choose the magic over the mundane!IMG_5674

1) Massage

Being pregnant is an interesting physical adjustment. Everything feels awkward and uncomfortable, especially interactions with strangers. Conversations tend range from kindness (you look beautiful) to very, very odd (you better go to the hospital right away, my daughter was crowning…). Not only do conversations tend to get a little awkward, but the whole exchange itself. People I don’t even know want to reach out and touch me, but those around me treat me like a fragile butterfly.

As such, the power of touch is incredibly important while you’re pregnant. You don’t always want to welcome people into your space, but when you do, you want someone to actually touch you!

I had two massages while I was pregnant and one of them was outstanding. Both were really great, but one of the massages left me feeling the way I used to during a massage: beat up! I loved every second of her really digging deep into my muscles and finally releasing a few knots I have. I truly recommend getting prenatal massages!

2) Reflexology

Have you every experienced reflexology? Oh my is it heavenly!!

My friend Shannon and I ventured into this tiny little place close to work, FootWorx on 114 in Middleton. Fortunately I had been there once before in my pregnancy, so I knew it was a legitimate place … but it definitely left a little to the imagination. Think back alley massage parlors and dark ambiance.

But it was NOTHING like that at all.

If you’ve never been to reflexology, let me break it down for you a bit. They start you seated on an ottoman and place your feet into warm water with tea bags inside. As you soak your tootsies, they massage your shoulders, arms and back. It feels so heavenly!!

Then they move you to a recliner and place your feet on the ottoman you’d been sitting on. You’re handed an eye mask and a heating pack for your belly to keep you cozy and warm as they massage your feet and legs.

Divine. Better than a massage some days and entirely worth checking out!!

3) Pedicure

I love me a delicious pedicure and I’m still on the hunt for the perfect location. I’ve found a few really great places, Faith Spa in Lynnfield does a great job … but nothing that really lights my fire yet! Hopefully after the little yogi dude is born, I’ll find the perfect spot so I know where to go in a pinch.

4) Gel Manicure

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I LOVE gel manicures. As someone who bites her nails, I have been in love with gel for the past few years. I should get my nails done much more frequently than I do, as it helps me keep the biting at bay, but I’ve been happy to do them a handful of times during my pregnancy. That whole “pregnancy nails” thing is real, expect if your nails are really weak and brittle it doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot.

After much exploring, this week I found my spot (and hopefully that means they do a mean pedicure… I haven’t tried them yet but fingers crossed). I went to Posh Nails in Woburn and blissful, divine, ahhhh-mazing… they don’t even cover it for adjectives.

The manicure itself was wonderful, but then they massage your shoulders while your hands are dipped in paraffin wax and scrubbed down with epsom salt/essential oils. And they do this for EVERY SINGLE appointment. YES!!!

5) Getting my hair done

As many of you saw in last weeks article, I love having my hair done. As a yogi I am so natural on many things. I was joking with my cousins boyfriend last week that the only thing in my medicine cabinet is stick on heat packs and tea tree oil. But there are certain things this little modern hippie needs and getting my hair done is one of them. (Sadly, it was one of my first questions when I found out I was pregnant… and I was approved to get it done while I’m cooking this little nugget!)

Last week I had my pink undertone put back in by my amazing friend Andrae who works (way far away) in Natick at Mirage. I love him and if you’re ever out that way, go see him immediately!!

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These tiny little acts have been lifesavers the last few weeks. As I prepare to settle in for a bit and get to know my little man, it has been an amazing blessing to add in this self-care.

Alongside my major self-care moments, I have also done little things during the week: light incense, had a surrender & release ceremony to welcome little Ziggy with open arms & an open heart, diffused oils, took bubble baths, enjoyed quite time alone with a book and a candle, pulled tarot cards, held a moon ceremony and made sure to get coffee frequently with my friends. It’s been divine and I know that as I transition to motherhood, it gets harder to remember self-care … but that’s a part of my mission. I am determined to continue to add in a little love for myself each week, in order to be the best mom I can!

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The better you feel in body and mind, the better you’re able to serve others.

Get out there and get a last minute summer pedicure, or just buy yourself a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Pamper yourself a little bit today and be sure to say THANK YOU when someone compliments you (no dismissive comments). You are radiant, you are loved and you deserve every ounce of this joy.

Namaste
Jenny