Jenny Ravikumar

September 2nd, 2015

My Perfect Birth Story

Let me start off this article with a disclaimer: I know I am blessed, I know my experience was not typical…but I still feel it’s crucial to share my story.

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A lot of my friends who have recently given birth have shared their labor and delivery stories. Being pregnant I was obsessed with reading them as everyone’s story is just a little bit different. I read about deliveries that went entirely as planned, some which took a turn for their worst fears and many, many stories that involved fear, pain and anger at doctors, staff and God.

As I was reading away, I came to the conclusion that whatever happened in the delivery room, I wouldn’t feel anger. I was asked a handful of times by various family members & practitioners what my “plan” was and if I was afraid. I had no plan at all. I figured that without a child birthing class I would still know how to deliver a baby, and my only real request was that the only person who was holding my hand would be my husband.

I would jokingly tell my family that I wanted to wear a labor outfit as I didn’t like the hospital gowns. I told them I thought he was coming early because a handful of my intuitive friends told me he would (and as his momma I just knew he was ready). No one believed me and we would all laugh & joke. I knew that if I had a plan, I would have a chance at finding negativity and I needed NONE of that as my son entered this world.

Months and weeks prior to his arrival I decided to create a list of things I wanted during labor: a fabulous playlist (with different genres, who knows what I would be in the mood for when the time came), the reminder to perform reiki, hubby’s instructions to “treat me like one of my students” and remind me to breathe the entire time, and my essential oils in the diffuser. Other moms told me that I was crazy and that I may not want smells or sounds, but I put them all on the list, just in case. I figured trying to add more joy never hurt.

When I woke up on the morning he was born (a week early as predicted), I knew he would make his debut before midnight. I took the day to relax (okay, you caught me – I may have showered, run 3 errands and did laundry…). But when hubby finally arrived, I was ready. Ready to meet my baby, and ready for whatever was thrown at me.

My perfect birth story

We arrived at the hospital at 5:15pm. We checked in and I immediately set up my diffuser with the scent of JOY. I changed into my labor outfit (my favorite nightgown). I plugged my phone in and started playing the mantra Ek Ong Kar Sar Gur Prasad. I had made a huge playlist full of my favorite songs: mantras, yoga type music, country and EDM to spice things up. Needless to say, because of how much Zyan wanted to meet us and my mood, the only song that was played was the mantra on repeat.

For a while I felt pretty great. When they checked me, d I was 4cm dilated around 6pm. We turned off the music for a bit and watched Wheel of Fortune. We started to watch Jeopardy but by the time Alex was giving the last question to the celebrities (I remember seeing Debra Messing at some point…) I had lost all concentration of the show and would put my head down for the contractions. I did answer a few (correctly of course) in between contractions but it was at this point that I really needed my breath.

Mt. Auburn was amazing. I am so glad I stuck to my guns on where I wanted to give birth. I knew I would be surrounded by the most knowledgable doctors, kindhearted midwives and rockstar nurses around. I also knew they had amazing tools for birth: a rocking chair, a birthing ball and even the option of being in the tub!!

I personally made it to the chair and the ball before deciding I needed to be in bed. I wasn’t entirely sure what was happening, but I knew I wouldn’t make it to the tub (which is a bummer as my little mermaid heart wanted to be there…but I just didn’t have enough time, Ziggy wanted to meet us as fast as he could).

I finally got into bed and at this point all I could hear wasthe mantra & my husband, reminding me of lions breath and telling me how much he loved me.

My perfect birth story`

Someone came in to check me as things were getting more intense and by 8pm I was 8cm dilated. They left the room for maybe 15 minutes and then I told my husband I needed someone to come back NOW. They checked me and as they did, a midwive donned a gown to get ready for Zyan to arrive. He arrived after 9 minutes of me pushing and was born at 8:39pm.

It was hard work, but yet it was the easiest experience I have ever had. My birth experience was the ultimate expression of being a warrior princess: hard work, determination and yet divine feminine love. I had my husband by my side and my son immediately on my heart, right where he belongs. Skin to skin was and is the most intimate moment yet. I finally got to see my son; this little beam of light that I had been carrying and creating for months had finally arrived.

My perfect birth story

Stepping into motherhood has been one of the most seamless transitions of my life. Nursing is my favorite activity of late and I just can’t get enough of my little Ziggy. Granted there are days when it’s really hard (like the day my beloved Apollo decided to attack a skunk…or when Zyan pooped, peed & puked at the exact same time – sans diaper!!), but even in the meltdown moments it’s amazing. People kept telling me while I was pregnant that it was all worth it and I’ll be entirely cliche here and reiterate that: this being a parent thing totally rocks, it’s worth every single moment and every breath.

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Watching my husband make his transition has also been full of beauty and wonder. I’m beyond grateful to have such an amazing partner, someone who I view as my twin flame, my soulmate. When he holds Zyan my whole heart explodes as I watch them together and I know he’s already such an incredible father. I cannot wait to see how their relationship changes and grows.

Apollo has been a total rockstar as well. He is smitten with his new “pack member” and lies on my feet when we nurse together during the day. The three of us snuggle up in bed or the couch as we bond and when daddy gets a break, we all snuggle in together for lots of love.

Pregnancy. Birth. Motherhood. It’s all so divine and can be a blissful and positive experience. I’m here to remind you that not every birth story needs to be surrounded by fear and negativity, to remind you that when you breathe into yourself and connect to the deepest parts of your soul: you can do ANYTHING in the world. Including childbirth.

To all my friends who aren’t yet pregnant: do yoga! This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a short or easy delivery, but it will certainly help you cultivate the tools you need to survive whatever your birth experience may be. It will help you relax your shoulders in between contractions, to laugh with your partner in those new parent moments and to enjoy each and every moment. We get so few in this world, so soak up each moment and try to infuse it with as much positivity and light as you possibly can.

My perfect birth story

I can’t wait for you all to meet Ziggy-man. Our little Zyan Jacob is the perfect beam of light and I couldn’t be happier that he’s arrived.

My perfect birth story

Sending you all so much love & light
Namaste
Jenny

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