WM Pidgeon set up
Ida Ripley, international yogi and sought after coach, has inspired me ever since I started teacher training in L.A in 2005. I’m so happy to bring you her answers to my questions about joy, body and passion.
Here we go!
Peace + Hotness Interviews Ida Ripley for MuseDays Tuesdays:
Ida, I have to tell you, when I first started teaching you were like a legend to me. You could do all these crazy postures, and you were (and still are) such a strong, direct woman. To be totally honest, I think you actually intimidated me. Now, nearly eight years later, we’ve both grown, and we’ve shared many vegetables and backbends. My intimidation has shifted to admiration. Tell us what you think about finding a sweet space between assertiveness+strength and feminine grace?
Awe, Jen, YOU have always been such an inspiration to ME!! From owning your own business to now following your dreams…it’s so awesome!
Let’s see, the sweet space, as you say, between assertiveness/strength and femininity/grace. I think it’s only now, in the past couple of years, because of the awareness (and finally now, the willingness and desire) to create it, have I finally started to accept and embrace my own femininity. I have always been confident and assertive, but I didn’t know how to balance that out with the softer side. I think perhaps I thought if I were too feminine or sensitive that it would make me weak or not in control…ironically, I fought against my sensitivity my whole life and it always seemed to rule me. Now I get that women are supposed to be women!! We have femininity and sensitivity because we are feminine and sensitive!! That’s what it’s all about for me now, balance. I have come to realize that everything must work together and everything is circular, so I can’t be one without the other. I understand now that I don’t always have to be right, or know the answer, or be working so hard that I am constantly busting my ass to be something more than I am in the moment. I have shifted my desire to do things from thinking I needed to do more and better because that is the only way to be respected and recognized, to doing things because they feed my soul and fill my bucket…respect comes in from sending respect out, I think life is about joy, not about trying to impress other people. The people I admire and respect the most are the ones who are passionate about whatever they are doing, and creating joy around them…they glow.
WM Myah st head to knee
Besides being an epic yoga teacher, seminar leader and general shining role model, you also have extensive history with the Hatha Yoga Championships, as a competitor and a judge. Can you tell us what these experiences have taught you about yourself? How have they aided in your own personal self realization?

I am the five time Western Canadian Hatha Yoga Champion. I competed all 5 years internationally and placed in the top 10 ten all five years (10th, 3rd, 5th, 3rd, 2nd). My final year of competing, 2009, I placed second internationally, earning me the silver medal.

The first year I competed I didn’t realize what I was getting into. I didn’t initially want to compete, I felt like it was showing off or something. I only finally did it because of the encouragement of a few friends who had been practicing for the competition already. I did it on a whim, really, and then ended up winning. It was pretty terrifying, I have to be honest. I was the kind of nervous that you get (or at least I get) in which you simultaneously want to barf and cry all at the same time. I don’t remember much of that first year except when they said I won I was flabbergasted. From there I trained for the International comp down in LA. It was after the LA competition that I started to be drawn toward my purpose at a higher level. Haha, that sounds totally corny and weirdo…but it’s true! I started to see how the competition was an opportunity for people to show themselves through yoga…and through this demonstration of the human spirit through the postures, people are inspired…I realized that through my own practice, I can inspire other people. It took me many years to be able to see about myself what others were seeing, but this was the start of my own light really starting to shine…it was the onset of what my job in this world is…
Ida FULL Camel Int '09
I, like so many people, have always been searching for something. Some years it was a more fulfilling job or relationship, some years it has been about changing my body or training hard for competition. The competition came along and became this amazing tool that taught me so many things about myself and gave me a forum to express myself physically (something I had been doing my whole life in theatre) and at the same time became this huge looking glass through which I was able to look at a magnified version of my life and choices. I learned about doing something on a whim. And then doing something to see how far I could go. And then only doing it for the outcome, then learning that being attached only to the outcome is bound to be a disaster. Then I learned to be completely DE-tached, and learned that that wasn’t the way to be either. I had to find a place of balance…which was beginning to be a theme for me in my whole life. I worked as hard as I could for ME, I did things physically I never thought in a million years I would do (sit on my own head???!!!!) and I was totally un-phased and un-attached to any outcome…I stepped on the stage excited to share with everyone what I had been working on, and I stepped off the stage knowing I did the very best I could do and felt totally complete. The biggest lesson I have had lately in regards to the competition is this: We get only so many years on this planet, why would we want to only do ONE thing in it? Anything I want to do is available to me, all I have to do is identify it, then anything is possible.
Being in skimpy clothes all the time, and being in a little onesie in front of hundreds of people can be scary. Have you struggled with your body image over the years? Would you share some of that history with us?

I have had many different body types in my life. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. I was never a skinny kid, I was always the chubby little kid and then the girl who develops early and have always had curves. I never got an eating disorder at a young age or was ashamed about the way I looked. When I started doing Bikram yoga I started to care more for my body because I was using it in a different way, and started looking at it for 90 minutes at a time!! When I started doing the competition my body began to change. In less than a year I went from hips and boobs to skin and bones. I had no idea it was even possible for me to be skinny, I just never thought I had “that body type”. (Turns out I do not have that body type, fyi, which is why I do not look like that anymore! I believe a healthy body is the one that is easy to maintain and functions in fine form with ease.) This new body was so different from anything I knew before so I enjoyed dressing it in all the things I didn’t ever feel comfortable in before and loved what I was able to do with it in the yoga room! I believe that when people are in the yoga room they are the truest expression of who they are. There is no hiding in the yoga room…from yourself or anyone. Because of my years of practice, I feel very comfortable in skimpy clothes. I have always called myself “the people’s champion” because I have a “normal” body and have still managed to awesome things in the yoga room. So, accepting my body as perfect has been a challenge, but a totally mandatory part of my life. It doesn’t matter what I am wearing in the yoga room, I always feel comfortable, everyone is who they are so there is no judgement on physical appearance or anything. I remind myself of this EVERY SINGLE DAY.

How has that relationship with yourself changed over the years?

Gosh, it’s changed so much over the years. Part of what is happening for me now is my age (at least that is what I am attributing part of it to!). I am 39 now, and honestly I don’t want to spend any more years of my life’s energy thinking that my bum is too big or that my thighs shake when I walk! There are so many more things that I want to spend my time and energy thinking about that now I am super in love with myself!! Haha, seriously, it’s true. I think there is a line between confidence and ego and a balance between confidence and humility.  I choose thinking I’m awesome over nit-picking which part of my body I want to change.

Ida Hammock Mex! '13

Ida, you are a beautiful girl, stunning really. You have been affecting change and spreading your love of yoga for years, inspiring and giving tools for people to transform their lives through their yoga practice. By my definition, this is super-hotness. 1) Do you think of yourself as beautiful?

Jen, you are so sweet. Thank you. Here’s the thing…I have never thought of myself at beautiful, no. I think I am pretty and I know I am attractive…attractive in the sense that people are drawn to me and attracted to me because of my confidence and charisma. But beautiful eludes me. Maybe that will be my next goal…creating beauty AND love!

2) Do you give yourself credit for all the virtuous work you are doing in the world?

Do you mean, “do I think I am awesome?”…? YES!! I DO think I am awesome. I realized many years ago (and continue to realize it) that a big part of my purpose in this life is to inspire people…I love what I do, I am super passionate about my life and doing awesome things and showing people how awesome THEY are and how many amazing things THEY can do too..if they want to…I always joke how when I travel around the world teaching seminars and running retreats, it’s like I am sprinkling my yogi unicorn fairy dust and spreading the yoga love!

Ida Cherie Crane Beach

I remember back in the day, you were an avid raw foodie. Then we chatted a few years ago about how you found you really had to relax on yourself, especially when you were in India. How would you describe your current diet?
Haha…this is kind of an interesting question for me right now. I have been vegan since 2005. I still believe very strongly in many things about raw food…I try to do green juice every day and I believe sprouting things is way better than grinding them into a flour. However, I am starting now to eat purely for pleasure. I spent so many years eating what I was supposed to because it was going to have an effect on me in the way that I wanted it to. My body started to change without me changing anything, so I had to re-asses what I was eating and what I believed about food in my body. So, lately I have been eating things that I haven’t had in years!! The big joke is that pretty soon all I will be eating is bacon for every meal! Hah, but seriously, I started eating fish on occasion (going for sushi is my favourite now!), and really just being drawn to whatever I want to eat. I spent so many years and hours working on getting healthy that now I am going to enjoy how well this healthy body works and eat what I want when I want. It was amazing, the realization just happened a few weeks ago. I AM REALLY HEALTHY SO NOW I REAP WHAT I SEWED!! It’s like spending years to build your dream house and then living next door so as not to make the dream house dirty.
WM Myah fish
Would you say your current Way With Food is one of peace?

Yes. Totally. I am grateful for my health and eat with pleasure not shame or guilt and have eaten things in the past month that I haven’t eaten in years (garlic toast, anyone?) and I feel amazing! I choose to eat good food, not junk, because it tastes better and feels better, and I love making food and being in the kitchen. Food is fuel, food is celebration, food is enjoyment, food is fun…yeah, my Way With Food is peaceful.

Do you do other exercises outside of Bikram Yoga?

Lately I have been doing exercise pretty well all the time. It’s kind of funny. I have a yoga mat and a foam roller on my bedroom floor and whenever I have a minute or two I am doing triceps curls, push ups, backbends, etc. I love nature walks and hikes…I love to be outside. I was never an athletic kid and I never played any sports growing up, so it’s funny to me now that I am so physically active as my lifestyle. I think that growing up I didn’t like the confines and pressures of team sports. I remember always feeling pressure to do it the RIGHT way, and I was a pretty confident self expressed young person, so I just never wanted to play those things, I always seemed to be doing them wrong…so, when I first started practicing Bikram yoga I felt “oh, I finally found it”. It was like there was something I was looking for but didn’t know what it was…until I found it. Now I love being active because I love how I feel when I use my body…strong healthy body equals strong healthy mind and strong healthy life.

Ida Bow Leg Westerns May '12

In your vast experience as a teacher, do you see students who do too much yoga?

Totally. It is a fine line. But you know, what do I know? I can only tell you what I have felt in my own body. I know I have done “too much yoga” in the past (as I know you know what I am talking about!), and because of that I also know that I need to support people through their own process and practice. I believe that everyone will find their path if they so desire…so, who am I to tell someone to do more or less yoga, you know? I did too much yoga and I am ok…I do too little yoga and miraculously I am ok too!! So, if anything, I just talk to my students, teach them the postures, create a space for them to be honest with themselves, see themselves and be guided down their own path. 

If so, what do you think is generally the intention behind overdoing it… with a practice that’s ‘supposed’ (such a loaded word) to be done with balance of mind?

I think balance is individual. I think everyone needs to find what works for her (or him)self. I still, after almost 13 years of doing this practice, have times when I can’t get enough of the hot room and times when I find it more challenging to go in there. In my experience with people, everyone goes into the yoga room looking for something, and everyone finds something…sometimes it’s what they wanted and sometimes it’s what they needed. I have several “realizations” about myself and the world and myself in the world in yoga class…what we need doesn’t always look like what we thought it was going to! Every time I think I have learned the biggest lesson, another one comes along…that’s why I keep practicing! Just this week I have been reminded in every class how therapeutic of a practice this is…how the heat and the stretching are so healing…and I also learned that drinking cold water in class does not help me. See, after this long, I am still learning the simple things. So, in my journey, I needed to over do it so that I could learn the true meaning of balance…and hopefully everyone eventually comes to that place when they are ready.

Ida St Bow '09 Internationals

Based on years of yoga practice and a history with different ways of eating, what is your advice on finding an individual Way With Food and exercise that creates a beautiful body and radiant health – and also allows for self love and peace?
In my mind the most beautiful women are the ones who are joyful. The women who enjoy their lives, are generous and gracious…that is what creates beauty. Through years of experimentation with food and diet and years of mind body connection, I understand what foods will make me feel great and which ones won’t….that being said, I also understand that food is about fuel as well as about relationships…so much of our lives revolves around food in this world…food is used to bring people together, celebrate and enjoy life! So, now that I have spent so many years honing my body to a fine tuned machine, I get to enjoy this well oiled machine and eat for pleasure as well as for fuel. Since being open to what I eat and taking the time to enjoy my food, I don’t over eat. I taste, enjoy, get satisfied and then stop. It’s simple. I am really in a good place with my food and myself. I love the way I feel, my body works amazingly, I like to take care of myself, and feeding the body sometimes means feeding the soul, and happiness might show up in a glass of green juice just as much as in a piece of cinnamon toast 😉
Thank you Ida. You have always been – and continue to be – an inspiration to me.

Thank you Jen. I love that I know you. Thanks for including me in your hot and peaceful Muses. xx

Ida Kissing the Sun

If you’d like to check out what Ida’s up to, you can view her site, read her blog, and follow her on twitter.
Do you know someone who’s healthy, happy and radiant that would be up for a fun interview? Contact me and let’s hook it up!
Peace and Hotness to you all.
Jen.

 

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Ah. This is such a WONDERFUL interview article!! Ida, although I’ve never met you in person, your name is a stable household name in the Bikram community. From this article, you sound like such a real, humble and endearing person whom I could’ve just easily talked to and enjoy the company!

    I’m also learning what “balance” is in my yoga practice, which is evolving. Recently for the first time I’m actually feeling great in my body and mind. There are many layers of yoga practice for me that were needed but not addressed before I started my bikram yoga practice. Now I’m addressing them—both, physical and spiritual perspectives.

    Jen, these are fantastic questions! Love this series!

    1. Thanks so much Josie, for your feedback and for your encouragement. Ida is exceptional company, perhaps you can come visit and we can all hang out. 🙂 xo

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