Create & Cultivate 100: Health & Wellness: Lauren Ash

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NAMA-SLAY.

 photo credit: Deun Ivory 

photo credit: Deun Ivory 

Lauren Ash is putting the OM in HOME. 

A wellness visionary, yoga and meditation teacher, creative writer, and founder of the culture-shifting lifestyle brand synonymous with black women’s wellness—Black Girl In Om, Lauren is creating safe and honest space. 

A space where women of color can close their eyes and feel surrounded by sisters. 

Through BGIO, Lauren creates and cultivates meaningful experiences and content for a hugely marginalized community. From the BGIO podcast—which has reached more than half a million listeners—to holistic self-care retreats, Lauren considers her work an act of compassion, belonging, and ultimately a space she once needed and didn’t see.

More from Lauren below. 

Name: Lauren Ash

Instagram Handle: @hellolaurenash

Business Instagram Handle: @blackgirlinom

Your site says, “Black Girl In Om creates space for women of color to breathe easy” what does breathing easy consist of?

Consider what it takes to breathe easy in the physical body: clean and safe air, lack of mental stressors causing you to breathe at a constricted, accelerated rate, and perhaps even the removal of constricting external forces on your chest, belly, and throat. Women of color are disproportionately faced with a greater number of challenges, ranging from economical and social, to health and psychological, so breathing easy is often a task much more complicated for us. However, when we remember that wellness is our birthright, and not some new, elite thing reserved only for the privileged, we begin to shift our paradigm and realize the possibilities that come with approaching breathing easy through simple, accessible practices such as compassionate exchanges with each other, a few moments of silence during the middle of a stressful day, and arming self-talk. Preventative and holistic self-care and selflove allows us all to breathe a little easier and slowly but surely it can become a lifestyle. This is what Black Girl In Om is all about.

What is your definition of holistic health for women?

Holistic health for me refers to experiencing wholeness in mind, body, and soul. Sometimes we feel fractured, and that’s okay. It’s important that we experience those fractures to know what wholeness feels like.

It’s important that we experience fractures to know what wholeness feels like.

When you were launching your platform what fears or doubts did you have to move past?

The fear that I would get in my own way. I experienced a tremendous amount of support from an intimate group of people who mattered a lot to me in the very beginning. I experienced some external fear and doubt from those who didn’t know what great resolve and determination I had and I allowed that to only fuel me. I believe that I’ve always known that the only force that could stop me would be me.

What’s the legacy you want to leave on your community?

The same legacy that my Grandmother Lillian Lazenberry-Martin left for me and everyone blessed by her presence: the feeling of true affirmation and support; the power of resilience and determination; the beauty in good vibes, a brilliant smile, and how good it feels to be taken care of. Also, a feeling of belonging and deservedness. Thanks to technology, I’m able to reach even more women than my Grandmother and continue to be an extension of the amazing legacy she left.

What advice do you have for women working towards cultivating the career of their dreams?

Don’t leave your Self out of the equation. When you dream up your ideal career, ensure that it involves prioritizing your energy, your spirit, your personal development. Approach your career from a holistic perspective.

"When you dream up your ideal career, ensure that it involves prioritizing your energy, your spirit, your personal development."

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What is your biggest pet peeve?

When someone interprets someone else’s glow-up as their downfall. Can’t we all shine together?

What's something you'd like people to know about your job that they probably don’t?

I work in my pajamas and headscarf more than half of the time.

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What about your career makes you feel the most complete?

That at thirty years old, and in my third year of being a creative entrepreneur, I finally feel empowered and equipped to thrive in my career while simultaneously thriving in my wellness journey. It’s been an ebb and ow thus far, but I’ve made recent decisions, changes, and investments and 2018 I’m making it all happen. The amazing thing is that this moment has been so tremendously supported by my team, our incredible global community, and my close friends and especially my Mother. This goes back to what I said earlier: only I can stand in the way of my own growth and potential!

If you had to trade jobs with anyone else in the world, who would it be and why?

I feel enormously blessed with my path and wouldn’t trade it for the world. However, if you absolutely forced me to, I would swap with Issa Rae. She, like me, cultivated a very specific platform, Awkward Black Girl, on her own terms for quite some time. She did so with limited resources because she knew it was a narrative worth telling and knew that there was a community of people longing to see themselves represented. Now, she has overwhelming support and resources at her fingertips to continue to do what she’s always done. And she keeps it real. She is unapologetically Issa. On and off the screen. Always. I love her for that.

At what point in your career did you find the confidence to really take charge and become the woman you are today?

Honestly, I’ve always been confident. Thankfully, from a young age, my family poured encouragement and affirmation into me and supported my creativity and expression. But I think that the confidence level has boosted from the stories of women in my community who has been inspired by my work and the mission of Black Girl In Om. Ranging from how BGIO has inspired them to prioritize their wellness and seek out support to how I have personally inspired them to become a yoga teacher or dramatically change their career to be in alignment with their values, it is these stories that remind me that I can be confident in my purpose and my path because it is quite literally transforming countless women’s lives. That’s what it is about. I’m simply a vessel; a vessel of inspiration and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What's the best advice you've ever been given? Or your favorite piece of #realtalk?

My Grandmother always told me “don’t take any wooden nickels” which basically means don’t put up with bullshit, ha! Seriously, though, she was speaking to a certain level of spiritual discernment and intuition which I’ve always tried to hone. My best friend Chelsea shared with me years ago what remains to be my favorite mantra: what is for you can’t be taken from you. This helps me time and time again as it reminds me to let things go, trust, and move on.

"What is for you can’t be taken from you."

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When you hit a big bump in the road, how do you find a new road or a detour?

Challenges breed innovation and creativity. I try to embrace challenges as opportunities. This is a must for anyone who wants to be in it for the long haul as a creative entrepreneur. My strategies include meditation and yoga, talking about the “bump” with people outside of my industry, and (importantly) not freaking out.

What song do you sing in the shower when you’ve had a bad day?

Jamila Woods’ “LSD” (and any song off of her HEAVN album!) because it’s such a beautiful reminder of self-love, my divinity, and my worth.

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