Member Spotlight: Ripley Piedrasanta

pic 1
pic 2
Pci 3

From Manuscripts to Yoga Mats: An interview with Yoga Para La Gente’s Ripley Piedrasanta

As many attorneys know, law school can be quite difficult. And finding ways to find balance during this period is something that is often discussed amongst the legal community. I had the privilege of speaking with Ripley Piedrasanta, a Mitchell Hamline alum, about her work with Yoga Para La Gente, and the work she does in the community.

Originally from Arizona, Ripley moved to Minnesota in 2016. While Arizona is always home, Ripley stated “Minnesota has a special place in my heart”, a fact reflected by her work in the Minneapolis Community. When asked about being a law student at Mitchell, Ripley sang the praises of the resources offered by the school. Like so many First Generation Law Students, Ripley struggled with adapting to life in law school. “It was difficult for me at first to transition into being a law student. I was working full time and I didnt have any guidance or any preferences of what it meant to be a law student. I was doing a lot of things on my own. It wasnt until my second year until I reached out to some additional resources where I realized that there was more available here to be more successful while also utilizing community.”

This led beautifully into a discussion about Ripley’s journey as the first in her family to attend law school. The proud daughter of Guatemalan Immigrants, it was clear from an early age that Ripley want to return the blessings that they had given her, “I really wanted to support them in other ways than what I could as a child growing up. Then as you get older and you realize, Oh, what is the way that I can help? It was through the law. I wanted to go into immigration law and not supporting my family, but my community and my people as well. That was the big driver for me to go to law school and just to be able to make a difference in my community.” But upon entering law school and working as a clerk at an immigration firm, Ripley realized that immigration law hit close to home, and she switched her focus to taking care of her mental health.

This prioritization was the spark that started Yoga Para La Gente, as Ripley stated “I still wanted to do something for my community.” Almost poetically, Ripley told me about her reasoning for yoga, “I really tapped into what helped me through law school, what's helped me through a lot of life changes. For me, it was yoga, and it continued to be yoga. But I realized there weren't a lot of spaces for Latinos in general, but non-white folks to be in yoga spaces. There are a lot of issues with access, with language barriers, allocation barriers. I just wanted to be part of something that, again, could still serve my community meant a lot to me and was serving in the mental health aspect.” But Ripley’s work is not simply about yoga, but about connections. We discussed representation of Latinos in the legal field, and Ripley brought up connecting to young students in public education. “I do think I see there is a focus in college or either in high school or colleges, let's help these folks, these students really try to hone in on if you want to be in the legal field, you want to be an attorney, this is what you need to do. But I even think it's even from a younger age where kids are so malleable and they're also just like sponge. They're learning so much. And if they're not seeing that, they don't know that that's something that they can be. And I think that is something where I'm trying to figure out how to do this myself too of how to mentor in a way that is still going to give a balance, because obviously attorneys are extremely busy, people in the legal field are very busy, but trying to connect with schools or figuring out what spaces outside of schools are going to be helpful ways to connect with students so that they can see, ‘Oh, this is what it means to be an attorney, and this person looks like me or this person has a similar background to me, and maybe they didn't consider that.’”

We also discussed the struggles about moving from communities that may have a lot of Latinos, and how to feel connected to the community. “It takes very intentional planning to find and be part of your community.” This echoed a sentiment that is often felt across the U.S., in particular with underrepresented communities in the legal field. This feeling of struggling to find community was a further catalyst to Ripley’s creation of Yoga Para La Gente. “I moved out here without knowing anybody, without having any family or friends out here, without really having a lot of guide or support. I wouldn’t find a lot of community spaces that I would feel comfortable joining that were Latinos or first or second generation Latinos.”

Perhaps most inspiring is that rather than give up or attempt to mold herself into being a part of the community, she created her own community by introducing them to her love: yoga. “I realized that yoga for me is what that community and what that shared interest is. As I continue to host events, its been really affirming to hear people say ‘its really nice that this is in Spanish’, so its been affirming to know that if you put something out there, people will go, and that also helps create community.”

Ripley’s story is far from over. And she continues to work towards offering yoga in English and Spanish for everyone. While taking a break from legal work, Ripley continues to influence and help a community that means so much to her, one stretch at a time.

If you are interested in learning more about Yoga Para La Gente, visit her website at


Story by Josh Fuller, MHBA Public Relations Co-Chair

Please help us to celebrate the amazing accomplishments of our members. If there is someone you would like to see included, please email