By Sadé Carpenter
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Lauren Ash, a 200-hour yoga certified teacher, established “Black Girl In Om” (BGIO) in 2014 after a series of serendipitous encounters. The holistic wellness lifestyle brand “creates space for women of color to breathe easy.”
On a mild Sunday last May, I walked into a room filled with black and brown faces. Women with shea butter-kissed skin and tresses ranging from afros to twists to braids to locs perched on yoga mats, some stretching, others sitting serenely, looking around the room in anticipation.
Apart from my sister at my side, I didn’t know anyone there. Yet, I immediately felt a sense of community. I immediately felt at home.
We sat in a large circle. One-by-one, moving counterclockwise around the group, we introduced ourselves and shared anecdotes about our experiences with mental health.
Some teared up as they shared long-ago and recent traumas. Others celebrated accomplishments and stories of renewal, triumphant testimonies.
I was one of the last to share, and sat in awe of the strength and sincerity on display among strangers. I spoke of feeling a constant state of transition, physically, mentally and emotionally, over the past year.
I spoke of feelings of loneliness in the absence of black female friends where I lived. The words caught in my throat and I was surprised by the tears forming in my eyes. I rarely emote that way, especially when surrounded by people I’ve just met. But that’s the power of Black Girl In Om.
“The overwhelming thing that I hear literally every single session from at least one person is … this idea of never have I ever entered a space with like all black and brown women … being in a space of positivity and affirmation and vulnerability,” said Lauren Ash, Black Girl In Om founder and executive director. “It’s not just a yoga session. People don’t know that. … I’m always, even though I’ve been doing this now for three years, so pleasantly surprised by the amount of people who just go there immediately.”