Today we’d like to introduce you to Gianna (Piccardo) Ripa.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I suppose like most people who walk a non-ordinary life path, the journey is long and winding.
For me, it began with a traditional upbringing in an Italian farming family in Northern California. I had always a great affinity for culture, language, and all things sacred.
An appreciation for that which is artfully cultivated from the land (certainly instilled by my grandparents) led me to the wine industry where I spent my first several years out of college pursuing a career in sales and management, one that I hoped would take me to the wine countries of Europe.
I had taken up regular yoga practice for stress management, and in the process, had completed multiple teacher trainings for my own personal development, or so I thought. I gradually began teaching more and more in my spare time.
In 2006, the owners of a wellness center where I taught invited me to join them for a training program in India, focused on Yoga Therapy and Ayurveda. I was experiencing a change of heart with my career and knew that the business world was not my true direction.
While contemplating a life change, I had been collecting brochures on naturopathic colleges. Although I wasn’t sure what it looked like, I knew my future direction was in health and wellness. As the sister science of yoga, Ayurveda had a been of great interest to me.
My time in India was transformational. It broke me of any non-serving health habits I’d previously carried, taught me about stillness and gave me a whole new perspective on health and healing.
I remember my first Panchakarma (Ayurvedic cleansing and rejuvenation program) and how I kept thinking that it should be more difficult, more restrictive, more painful – my western mind wanted to understand how could I be accomplishing detoxification with daily spa treatments and delicious, nourishing food.
This is when I understood a key I had been missing, that the body heals naturally when we give it the correct circumstances to do so. The desire to deepen my studies in Ayurveda began here.
Upon returning from India, I was different person, which was probably why the timing was just right for me to meet my partner of 10 years, André Ripa. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised that I ended up marrying a French-Italian who didn’t drink wine.
André introduced me further into the broader realms of the holistic healing arts. A gifted musician and healer, he used the arts as therapy and awakened my ability to do the same. Eventually I started singing, which had been my favorite childhood pastime, and to this day I include voice and sound as modalities in my work.
I have been given the beautiful and rare opportunity to study directly with skilled and gracious teachers and mentors who have entered into my life synchronistical and unexpectedly, as have all the most important elements of my path. For all, this I am deeply grateful.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Definitely there were struggles!
I was an overachieving, high-expectations kind of child and I brought these characteristics, along with their inseparable sibling, anxiety, into my adult life and career process.
Leaving a well-paying, successful career to go teach yoga and jaunt off to India is not particularly wise nor societally acceptable, and it flew in the face of my grounded upbringing.
I experienced the worst anxiety right when I came back from that life changing trip, mainly because I experienced there the kind of person I wanted to be and the way that I wanted my life to feel, and then returned home to the reality I had created, which was totally opposite.
And of course, for many self-employed individuals in my field, there is the issue of earning money from doing what you love, which inevitably brings ups and downs and is great teacher in the subject of trust. It takes time to find a work life balance and a path without compromise that also is financially supportive.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Spirit Healing Arts – what should we know?
Spirit Healing Arts is a culmination of both André and my offerings. We specialize in applying ancient healing modalities and art forms to modern health issues of body and mind. Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy, Reiki, Sound and Shamanic healing are among these.
Because André’s main focus is on Spirit Musique (our sister site illuminating the musical and multimedia stage aspects of our work), most of the session and intensive offerings at Spirit Healing Arts are centered around my Ayurvedic work. I offer Panchakarma and cleansing programs, along with treatment therapies such as Shirodhara, Abhyanga and Marma, Pulse Diagnosis and Ayurvedic Diet & Lifestyle Consultations.
I’d say that what sets us apart is the fact that we are a married couple who teach and practice together. We are unique in that we offer sessions, intensives and retreats together as co-facilitators, which for many people is impactful, as they appreciate having a balance of the masculine-feminine principles. It lends a different, perhaps more complete feel, as it’s rare to receive one on one work from two facilitators.
People also often attribute integrity and impeccability to our work, which we greatly appreciate, as we live in a culture where enthusiasm can sometimes override experience. Combined we offer over 30 years of practice of our craft.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
We’ve been blessed with fantastic teachers and mentors who either got us started or deepened our studies along the way and continue to do so today.
We would love to honor Dr. Sharon Forrest (Canada), Deb Wolksi, Anne Price & Gary Ferguson, Richard Haynes, Sarahjoy Marsh, Dr. MaryJo Cravatta, and A.G Mohan, Indra Mohan and Dr. Ganesh Mohan of Chennai, India.
Also, we are eternally grateful to a host of mentors and guides in spirit form, especially the two that brought André and I together, St. Francis and Clare (Francesco and Chiara) of Assisi, Italy.
Of course, our biggest cheerleaders are our community of clients who provide endless love and appreciation. The feeling is mutual as we learn so much from them too.
And I personally thank my parents and my family, who have the biggest hearts ever and support me and my sometimes unusual choices with immense love and respect.
- Individual 75m-90mn sessions typically range from $125-150.
- A Two Week Guided Mind-Body Cleanse, Herbal Product Package and Online Educational Program is $325
- Address: Spirit Healing Arts, Ojai, CA 93023
- Website: spirithealingarts.com and spiritmusique.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: Spirit Musique
- Yelp: Spirit Healing Arts
Grace Oh, Hermon Farahi, Matthew F. Smith, Lubosh Cech