Welcome to How They Live, a series where we speak with friends about the routines, rituals, and practices that help keep them grounded. In reflecting on 2020—one of the toughest years that we’ve faced as a collective—the biggest lesson we learned was the importance of establishing rituals that keep us in the present, to be ready to weather any unexpected changes. Going into this new year we wanted to create a journal series that would give us all a toolkit of sorts to do just that.
Our first guests are Laura Jervidalo Ravn and Kenta Thomas Naoi. Laura is a Yoga Teacher, raised in Copenhagen. Kenta is a Business Designer and Coach, hailing from the Bay Area. The two crossed paths in New York in 2015 while both living there, bonding over their love for dance. Today they live between Berlin and Copenhagen where their days are dynamic, filled with a balance of work and activities they love. One of the daily practices they hold most dear is dance. Dance is a way for them to feel free, empowered, and connected to their bodies, so that they can move through the day with a sense of ease and awareness. They share with us a number of practices and rituals that help keep them grounded and able to handle whatever the day throws their way.
To begin, can you share with us a treasured ritual of yours?
K: I think as a couple, we really enjoy the ritual of tea. It really helps ground us back into our day, which can get pretty full. For myself, I have intention setting rituals at the beginning of the week, usually Sunday night. I try my best to extend that into the week.
L: I love our tea-ritual and when we are not in lock-down we do tea and “break-first” together around noon. That’s usually after I have taught in the morning and is a break of the day where we eat fresh fruits, vegan yogurt, take our vitamins and then get ready for the rest of the day.
What inspires us most about you two is that you are multidisciplinary artists. For example, on top of working professionally as a yoga teacher, Laura, and a business coach, Kenta, you both pursue a multitude of disciplines—dancing, photography, performance, nutrition, just to name a few. Why is it important to you to pursue many different interests?
L: For me being a yoga teacher blossomed from a love of being a practitioner, same for dance. I was practicing dance and it evolved into teaching. Both practices mean a lot to me and I think it comes down to the more you learn about movement and embodied practices, you see where they overlap and intertwine, and that to me is super inspiring.
I enjoy having many interests, what they give to each other and how it all relates for me. It is a natural result of how I live my life. The more you learn, the more you see how everything connects and adds knowledge to each other.
"I think it’s wonderful to be a multidisciplinary person. All my life I was told to specialize, but it never felt right. I love learning, being interested in, and trying different things."
K: I love championing ‘generalist culture’. I think it’s wonderful to be a multidisciplinary person. All my life I was told to specialize, but it never felt right. I love learning, being interested in, and trying different things. It gives you the opportunity and gift of curiosity, openness, and an aptitude of change and adaptability, in a way that’s unique to you.
We want to zone in on your love for dancing in particular. Watching you two dance, it’s been radical for us. We can feel your fierce dedication to the discipline and how much time you both invest in practicing this art form. What draws you to dance and what do you love about it?
L: For me it’s freedom. That’s really what I seek with all my different practices of both movement and meditation. What I admire about other dancers is their freedom in their body, how they connect to the moment and the music. That’s what I love and what I wish more people could experience. It’s why I keep practicing, to have a relationship with my body where it doesn’t experience too many limitations, so I feel strong, flexible, healthy, and free to connect in any given moment.
"Every time I move I come back to myself. Whatever was stressful or overwhelming seems smaller and like something I can handle. I have also experienced sometimes having doubts or unanswered questions and after some moving of the body the answers appear."
K: Dance is my way of feeling empowered and connected. I feel so capable in my own body. [I think it's important] because in today’s world with our modes of work, we can lose touch with our own bodies. Also, dancing makes me feel my own self love. As an Asian American growing up, I never felt good about the way I looked or how I moved through the world, so when I started to Bboy (break dance), that opened up a whole new world for me. From there, it spiraled into this beautiful practice of growth and bloomed into a tool for self expression.
On that note, why is moving your body so sacred to you?
L: It’s like centering myself over and over again. Every time I move I come back to myself. Whatever was stressful or overwhelming seems smaller and like something I can handle. I have also experienced sometimes having doubts or unanswered questions and after some moving of the body the answers appear.
You two talk a lot about the importance of making space—making space for your own interests, hobbies, for rest, as well as making space for one another. Can you share one you do to make space for one another?
K: One thing Laura really taught me is that it’s okay to say ‘no’. So, I think there’s just a lot of checking in with each other about if it’s a good time to chat, or are we working, or do we need space, and this has really been helpful in not only knowing when we can create space for each other, but knowing when the space can be fully filled with intention and love, and not just out of obligation.
L: [Laughs] I guess I am good at saying ‘no’. Actually I think Kenta is right. I know my own limits pretty well of how much I can handle at a time, what I need to prioritize and that also goes for Kenta. Making space is all a game of priorities. I might want something and Kenta doesn't have time, but then we settle on when to make time for it. That has worked for both of us so far, making time for ourselves, our individual hobbies, but also making time for our collective hobbies and couple time.
Kenta, as a business coach you are helping entrepreneurs find their spirit and drive. What’s a valuable lesson you’ve learned on your journey as a business coach?
K: It’s okay to get support, even when we don’t ‘need’ it. And a big part of that support is around our mental space — simply listening and checking in with ourselves. I often challenge people to check in with themselves about where a thought is coming from. Mindset is just a mental habit, and our habits really affect how we move through the world, right?
Laura, you often provide guided meditations to your students. Why is meditation or breathwork such a vital part of your practice?
One of my teachers once said, “The breath is like a gateway into meditation.” By paying attention to our breath, you are first of all bringing your attention into yourself and can start to deal with the subtle imbalances there. For me personally, meditation is a really deep practice, this is where I discover essential truths about myself and it helps me to have lots of energy to give to others and teach.
Laura guides us through a meditation. All you need is a quiet spot and a cushion or bolster.
Photography: 7115 by Szeki
Video Shoot + Editing: Laura Ravn and Kenta Naio
Music in video: Ólafur Arnalds