By Ryan Velez
Yoga has become a fun and healthy trend. Jaimee Ratliff had to get on the train before it got popular after necessity. As a teenager, she had surgery for an S-shaped spine and had to take classes as a teenager to deal with this. She didn’t care for it then, but revisited it later in adulthood and loved it. Now, Ratliff is getting Black people excited about yoga all across Atlanta with Hip-Hop Yoga. Madame Noire recently sat down with her.
Her path to yoga is one marked with difficulty, even after dealing with her surgery as a teenager. “While I was working in the communications industry I was also doing this traveling thing on the side, so I was also a travel writer. During that time I was also going through a period of trying to find myself, knowing that I should be ending a relationship with someone that I knew wasn’t going to turn into anything positive. So I was going through a lot trying to find myself, trying to find my strength and love myself enough to walk away from an unhealthy relationship.
On top of that, in October 2015, I was robbed at gunpoint in Colombia. So after experiencing those two life-changing things, I came back from Colombia and ended the relationship with the guy, then I moved back to Atlanta. At the beginning of 2016, I came back home and really started pouring myself even more into my yoga practice. I took some time off from working and became a certified yoga teacher.”
The unique approach is paying dividends. “Yeah! The way that I structure my class is the tagline, “We’re Deepak and Tupac.” So, in the beginning, I get them into their breath and there’s no music and I’ll maybe have them lying on their backs with one hand on their heart and one hand on their belly to really set the tone and intention and what I want them to focus on for the day’s class. And then we pump up the music and then we end in Shavasana and I’ll read a meditation. So I have people who will tell me, “I cried on my back,” or “This is the first time I hugged myself.” Because I always have my students hug their legs into their chest. Hug yourself! Show yourself love and gratitude for the amazing things your body and your mind can do. It’s funny because I’m about to go on this tour and everybody’s like, “What am I going to do when you’re gone?” I’m like, you’re going to continue to go do yoga [laughs]. But the response is amazing.”