Black Girl In Om Founder and Creative Director Lauren Ash and Art Director Zakkiyyah Najeebah

Art

12.2.2015

Meet The Woman Changing The Face Of Yoga For Women Of Color

Corporate yoga has its lure. Sessions go day and night, and the studio outside your door supposedly offers the answer to all of life’s conundrums. That is, if $20 classes and a room full of people you can’t racially or culturally relate to still has you humming “om.” Organization Black Girl In Om reveals what many of us have been thinking: Majority of corporate Western yoga is white, and it by no means has to be, or should be.

Black Girl In Om Founder and Creative Director Lauren Ash and Art Director Zakkiyyah Najeebah.
Black Girl In Om Founder and Creative Director Lauren Ash and Art Director Zakkiyyah Najeebah.

Since the day I met Lauren Ash, founder and creative director of the Chicago-based organization, I was struck by her compassion, and a soothing yet gripping voice. Lauren’s passion for yoga paved the way to years of practice, both inside the studio and out. But when she toyed with the idea of teaching, she couldn’t exactly envision it becoming a reality. Ash’s identity as a woman of color, an artist, and an activist was integral to her practice, and the classroom she saw in front of her was mostly white. But after attending a yoga transformation course, she had an epiphany. She wanted to create “the change that I wanted to see for my own experience,” as she told me. Fast forward years after taking that life changing course, Lauren signed up for teacher training. Her epiphany evolved into a community of women of color working towards a long deserved sense of inner peace, communal and personal care.

Creative Director and BGIO founder Lauren Ash, with Art Director Zakkiyyah Najeebah
Red lipstick should be a requirement for yoga classes.

The Black Girl in Om students “love to be able to connect with the people who showed up. They knew they would be able to recognize their experience in the people in the room.” The classes include the sounds of R&B and soul, deep breaths, laughter, and an 18-20 minute discussion after every class. Going forward Lauren places a particular emphasis on youth under the age of 21 who “are at more of a fragile and vulnerable faze. Teenage years matter so much in determining the person you will become as a professional, really as a human being.”

Come to NY, Lauren!
Come to NY, Lauren!

Lauren hopes to expand the Black Girl in Om community. Look out for pop-up lessons and events near you, ideally in the near future; and for those of you outside the states, stay tuned. You can help them out and read more here.

View the Kickstarter video below:

Images by King Texas, Lawrence Agyei, Tamon George, and Zakkiyyah Najeebah

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