This month we are highlighting women in wellness who inspire us and bring so much knowledge, joy and intention into the world of well-being. Every week this month we will be sharing an interview with one of them, learning more about their work, projects, recipes and visions for the future!
This week we are so excited to be hosting an interview with the founder and CEO of Black Girl In Om, Lauren Ash! Black Girl In Om is helping create a world where women of color are liberated, empowered and seen through creating a space for black women to breathe easy. They are “supporting the necessary transformation, spiritual awakening, consciousness shifts, and intergenerational healing occurring within the diaspora.” We are so grateful to Lauren Ash for her contributions to the intersectional wellness community! Read on for our complete interview...
Please tell us more about Black Girl In Om, what your journey was like bringing it to life and what inspired its creation?
Black Girl In Om is truly an energy and a world of its own, shapeshifting and taking on new, expansive directions, including a physical healing space, membership community, spiritual wellness focused podcast, and more. I’m the vessel for how it shows up, but it’s been a co-creative process for nearly 7 years now! While the story is so much more than this, and even has roots all the way back to my childhood growing up in Minnesota, here’s just a glimpse of how it came into fruition. I had been drawn to the practice of yoga when I was in graduate school at Purdue University in 2012 where I found myself navigating feelings of isolation, loneliness, and embodied tension. Although the practice increasingly lit me up spiritually, physically, and emotionally, I simultaneously longed for a community around it that I could relate to, connect with deeply, and grow with. I longed for a community that looked like me and shared similar life experiences and identities as me. A few years later when I moved to Chicago, I continued to notice that I was most often the only black woman in the studios I frequented. That was curious to me. That a practice that originated in black and brown cultures was, in the Western, modern world, so white. Even in a city as diverse as Chicago. When I eventually found myself months into a deeply unfulfilling first “real” job, I decided to follow my curiosity, which I’m a huge advocate for to members of my masterclass 28 Days to Alignment. I’ve since discovered, and possibly even mastered, this as a strategy for manifesting my desires. In following my curiosity and signing up for yoga teacher training, I soon found myself beautifully spiraling into a new, Divine direction: Black Girl In Om was birthed just months after that serendipitous decision to say “yes” to myself. I started Black Girl In Om because, simply put, I needed it. And because I started it with clear intention and lots of surrender, it magnetized everything, and everybody, I needed to turn it into a reality.
What is The Circle?
The Circle is our monthly membership community for black women and women of color. We’re working against a tired story that says black women do not take care of ourselves! We have, and we do. I believe so strongly in accessing the ancestral wisdom that we have inherited around how we can heal ourselves and live from a place of knowing we are healed! We’ve had phenomenal special guest teachers show up in The Circle, from human design guide Jas Verville of Moondust Our Mother, to yoga nidra and meditation teacher Tracee Stanley, to energy healer Mar Mouna of I See You Wellness and more! We give members access to a curated monthly curriculum centered in rotating spiritual themes, explored through wellness wisdom that is culturally aligned, mindfully sourced rituals, with grace, compassion, and self-love. This year, we’ve been journeying through the chakras and it’s been absolutely transformational for me, and our members. While open enrollment is indefinitely closed, those interested in membership can enroll in our upcoming summer cycle of our Intention & Alignment masterclass 28 Days to Alignment or subscribe to our newsletter on our website and then keep their eyes out for opportunities to be invited to a special enrollment opportunity.
Image by Malanda Jean-Claude
What has the response from the community been like in their BGIO experience?
The beautiful testimonials from our members in The Circle particularly speak volumes! One of our members Taylor shared this spring “Within a day of going into The Circle my life began changing. There is divine confirmation in what happens in this space. I am here for the healing and here to spread love all the same.” And, Morgan shared: “Bathing in the abundance: The Circle was something I didn't realize how much I needed. A space to be held, seen and in community with other beautiful Black women is something I was yearning for and I love that it can go with me where I go.” It’s been nearly 7 years since I began BGIO and it’s words of affirmation that encourage me and my team to keep deepening into the work. When one person is powerfully and meaningfully transformed we believe it impacts our entire lineage for the better.
We read that you are set to open what sounds like an incredible organic herbal apothecary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Firstly, congratulations on this new facet of BGIO! Can you tell us more about this and when we will be able to visit!
Yes, the vision and the space itself are still developing energetically and it’s so beautiful to be so supported by our community. Home by Black Girl In Om will encompass a space that reminds black women that we are already healed through innovative spiritual wellness offerings, energy healing, and programming, an herbal apothecary, curated gift shop and more. We anticipate opening in 2021.
We saw you have a podcast as well... Was all of this in your original vision for BGIO? Did any one of these projects precede the others? Also, how can we tune in to your podcast?
The podcast is an absolute joy! I’ve had the pleasure of having such powerful conversations with artists like Deun Ivory, Kenesha Sneed, visionaries like Erica Chidi and Rachel Cargle, healers Gina Breedlove and Mar Mouna and more. It’s so funny when people ask me about if it was a vision in the beginning because BGIO was a spiritual download I received, and had little clarity to it at all. It has unveiled itself step by step, little by little. I’m a Manifesting Generator (shout out to my fellow human design enthusiasts) so I absolutely do things “out of order” all of the time and usually have no preconceived ideas about how to go about doing things. I do what lights me up (sacral authority here)! If it doesn’t light me up, I put it back down. You may stream the podcast on our website, and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, TIDAL, and honestly everywhere podcasts are streamed.
What does your morning routine look like? Do you have any grounding rituals that help you prepare for the day ahead?
Currently, it involves a Kundalini kriya (currently on day fifty something of the Reverse Adhi Shakti Kriya) during which I focus on blessing myself and unblocking and balancing my chakras, journaling, pulling from the Lotus Cards for Inner Space, brewing my own blend of herbs, and yin yoga. Yes, to ground I go outside and walk by the Mississippi River and amidst the beautiful trees.
Do you have a favorite adaptogen or tonic herb that you have found supportive? If so, what is your favorite way to incorporate it into your day?
Yes, I’m a huge fan of Ashwagandha. It supports my resiliency against whatever stressors the day may bring. I love anything preventative and proactive in measure. I scoop it into my smoothie or pour it into my oatmeal.
Image by Laura Docter
Any sustainability practices that you would like to share?
Honestly, this is an area of growth for me. I am proud of myself for refilling my 3-gallon jug of water a couple of times each week rather than always buying plastic water bottles, however!
If and when you have a moment to yourself, how do you honor your mind and body? Are there any practices that support you in moments of stress?
I always have moments to myself, it’s important to me that I create this space. I honor my mind through daily meditation, and my body through daily movement. I love dancing at myself in the mirror, Chakha Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” is my current anthem and dancing to it while singing it at the top of my lunges always helps me relieve stress and activate my power.
What is your (current) favorite meal to cook at home?
I’m obsessed with Banza’s chickpea pasta, Rao’s homemade sauce, and I throw in some sauteed spinach, mushrooms, onion and garlic. A dash of nutritional yeast and YUM!
Image by Carolina Salazar
Most recent book or favorite book(s) you’ve read or listened to?
I’m currently listening to The Gene Keys on repeat (my Gene Keys in particular). It’s mind blowing. I’m a consciousness nerd and enjoy anything existential in nature (I’m a Sagittarius, so...there’s that). Learning about how I can literally activate the highest gift, the highest expression, of these beautiful stories and messages stored within my DNA has been a transformational gift.
Tell us about an artist you're inspired by from the past/present or future generations of artists you hope to see someday?
My friend Lydia is an amazing black, queer artist right here in Minneapolis who gives me hope every time we share space. We’re working on something really dope for Black Girl In Om together. Keep your eyes peeled!
Who is on your playlist right now?
I pride myself on my great taste in music, I used to curate Chicago’s Best Dance Party! Currently: the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble’s Book of Sound, all things Alice Coltrane, and the Dinner Party album with Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, Phoelix and 9th Wonder. Follow me on Spotify @blackgirlinom!
Where are you looking forward to traveling in the next year or so?
Bali, Indonesia and Ghana!
What is the best way to keep up to date with the latest BGIO projects and offerings?
Image by Lauren Ash