Black Girl In Om—Shamira West: Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Health & Wellness Writer + Blogger

Black Girl In Om—Shamira West: Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Health & Wellness Writer + Blogger

I love bringing a community of women of color together to share their stories and uplift each other. When I was younger, Black girls used to compete. “She’s lighter.” “She’s darker.” “I wish I had looser hair like her.” “I wish I was mixed,” were the comments I was surrounded by as a little girl and it stayed with me all the way through adulthood. Once I learned to love me and the color of my skin, I wanted to help other women of color embrace themselves flaws and all. I want our community to be less about competition and more about support and love for one another.

Black Girl In Om—Abena Boamah: Maker, Educator, and Founder of Hanahana Beauty

Black Girl In Om—Abena Boamah: Maker, Educator, and Founder of Hanahana Beauty

Abena Boamah: Look at yourself. Walk around your house naked, watch yourself dance, learn about your body and how you move. I think when you start to really look at your body and really take time to see how your body works it can cultivate inner beauty and definitely wellness. Also take time to do the simple stuff to take care of your skin. Long showers, baths, and moisturize.

Brown Girl In Om — Chetna Mehta: Mixed Media Artist + Mental Wellness Mystic

Brown Girl In Om — Chetna Mehta: Mixed Media Artist + Mental Wellness Mystic

Chetna Mehta: I am a tree spirit; I live to give shelter, share fruit, stay deeply rooted in the soils of mother earth and expand to the sky unbounded.

In this life, I’m a mixed media artist, mental wellness mystic and healer. I’m a grad student in counseling psychology and a cultivator of a business, mosaiceye, centered on visual art, affirmation and workshop. I love creative expression, ritualistic self-reflection, and the synchronicities of our universal interconnection.

Black Girl In Om—Koya Webb: International Holistic Health Coach and Yoga Instructor 

Interview by Lauren Ash. Photos courtesy Koya Webb.

When I met Koya a month ago in Chicago, I was immediately drawn in by her glow! Super radiant, Koya conveys authenticity, compassion, and love. While I wasn't able to take one of her yoga workshops, I did benefit from her practice of this holistic practice. Let's not forget that the physical practice (asana) of yoga is just one aspect of the multifaceted, thousands of years old philosophy. So, I did experience yoga with Koya. From her kind explanation of why she practices veganism and advocates that more people take it up as a practice of love and compassion, to her communication of support for BGIO and the ethos behind what my team and I have been cultivating for the past few years, I felt better for having been in Koya's presence.

I hope that you, too, enjoy Koya's warmth and wisdom conveyed through our conversation below. If you're not already following her, please do! Dive into her resources on her website www.koyawebb.com and follow her on social media on Instagram @koyawebb, Facebook @koyawebbonline and on Twitter @koyawebb.

Lauren Ash: Who are you?

Koya Webb: I am Love. I believe that the most important element in health is Self-Love; from this belief came the creation of Get Loved Up. Get Loved Up encourages you to practice daily self-care, oneness and eco-friendly living. It teaches you how to make healthy holistic living a priority in a fun and accessible way!

Lauren Ash: I love your focus on both transformation and accessibility, Koya. Who says we can't change the very fabric of our lives and lifestyles? Who says that change has to be out of reach? You are certainly shifting how we approach our health and wellness in ways that are meaningful, especially for women of color as too many of us still face barriers in accessing tools and resources that allow us to thrive. This is something Deun and I recently spoke about with Dr. Tiffany Lester. I'd love to know: what does Black Girl In Om mean to you?

Koya Webb: BGIO means connection, self-love, and wellness to me. BGIO represents the collective of black women who share a passion for health, wellness and beauty. BGIO gives black women a space to express themselves fully and be heard. BGIO is a beautiful platform inspiring black women worldwide to be their best and know that they belong in health and wellness. 

PHOTO COURTESY KOYA WEBB

PHOTO COURTESY KOYA WEBB

Lauren Ash: Yes, to the yes, yes, yes! And how do you identify with Black Girl In Om’s mission?

Koya Webb: My mission in life is to breathe deeply into the ever expanding depths of my soul to educate, entertain and inspire. I created Get Loved Up to promote self-love, oneness and eco-friendly living so that we can live in harmony with ourselves, one another and mother earth. I believe BGIO's mission of self love, self care and wellness is an empowering platform that connects women of color world wide with each other through sharing experiences on and offline. 

Lauren Ash: We have so much resonance! I can't wait to download your app and give it a go myself. Maybe we'll create a challenge around it for our community? If anyone is interested in this, tweet us and let us know! They may seem obvious, but what are your self-care & self-love practices?

Koya Webb: Mornings are my "me time." I know if I take care of myself first I'll have more than enough energy to share with others throughout the day. 

I start with lemon water and cayenne as soon as I wake up. I love lighting soy-based candles and spending at least 10 to 30 minutes in meditation. After meditation, I run a mile adding 5 to 10 sprints to really get my heart pumping. This always makes me feel ALIVE!

I wind down with a 30 to 60 minute yoga flow to de-stress, release tension and cultivate a mind, body, soul connection. I add resistance training 3 times a week with my own body weight or in a gym. 

Then I shower and massage my body with organic oils before heading into my day. 

PHOTO COURTESY KOYA WEBB

PHOTO COURTESY KOYA WEBB

Lauren Ash: I love how your practice is holistic: touching on all the facets of yourself as a human and spiritual being. It's also so great that it begins in the morning. Mine often does, I find that if I don't give myself that attention at the start of my day it just won't happen. What’s one ritual you recommend more women of color adopt to cultivate inner beauty and wellness?

Koya Webb: I recommend a gratitude journal where you daily write down life's blessings and challenges that you have overcome. Often we spend the entire day talking about the chaos around us, a gratitude journal brings the attention back to whats really important...how much we've been blessed. 

Lauren Ash: YES. Gratitude journals are a popular one, around here! Recently, BGIO Beauty Shanna Tyler spoke to this as a powerful ritual, too. What’s one wellness product you cannot live without?

Koya Webb: One wellness product I can't live without is coconut oil. I put it in my hair and on my skin. I oil-pull with it in the morning to keep my teeth white and healthy. I toss it in the skillet for a healthy hearty stir-fry or drizzle it over my sweet potato instead of butter. There are endless uses for coconut oil and if I could only have one beauty product coconut oil would be it. 

Lauren: Thank you so much for sharing your light with us, Koya!

PHOTO: COURTESY OF KOYA WEBB

PHOTO: COURTESY OF KOYA WEBB

More about Koya Webb. Koya is a Celebrity Holistic Health Coach and Yoga Instructor who has worked with Stevie Wonder, India Arie, Ashley Judd and many other singers, actors, models, corporations and organizations passionate about healthy living. 

Koya is a highly regarded expert source influencer and editorial contributor with appearances on NBC, CBS, CNN and the Steve Harvey Show and over 300k online media followers. Her holistic health, detox and lifestyle tips have been featured in Oxygen, Essence, LA Yoga, Mind Body Green, The Chalkboard, Max Sport & Fitness, and Muscle & Performance among others.

This former Olympic track and field hopeful heptathlete turned to yoga and holistic healing after battling depression triggered by a season-ending injury and she has never turned back. Koya healed herself and many others using natural foods, fitness, yoga, meditation and healthy living practices. 

With over 15 years of practical application and certifications from the Integrated Institute of Nutrition (IIN), National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM), Source of Yoga 500hr and many others, Koya stays on the pulse of what's fun, fresh and effective when it comes to optimal nutrition and healthy living. Her mission is to create a healthier planet one breath at a time via holistic healing, oneness and eco-friendly living. Koya combines the work ethic and dedication of an athlete with simple practical holistic health practices that anyone can follow to live a healthy and active lifestyle. 

Black Girl In Om—Shanna Tyler: Yoga Teacher, Social Worker, Blogger

Black Girl In Om—Shanna Tyler: Yoga Teacher, Social Worker, Blogger

Black Girl in Om means community. It means strengthening a community that needs to band together. Us, as women of color, are marginalized and oppressed for not only gender but race. What this movement signifies is us building each other up. We share our ideas, our triumphs, our stumbles, and our practices in order to help each other. That’s a beautiful thing!!

Black Girl In Om—Brandie Gilliam: Founder, Editor & Creative Director of Thoughtfully Magazine

Black Girl In Om—Brandie Gilliam: Founder, Editor & Creative Director of Thoughtfully Magazine

I'm also really into speaking words of purpose, affirmation, intention and faith over my life. I tell myself regularly that I'm more than enough, loved deeply and am more than capable and worthy. I haven't always felt completely confident in being me and it's been hard navigating this world as a women of color, but I've found so much healing in facing the insecurities, fears and hurts, and turning them around with the loving power of my words.

Brown Girl In Om—Nilsa Salgado: Soulpick Founder 

Brown Girl In Om—Nilsa Salgado: Soulpick Founder 

Black Girl in Om for me represents women of color coming together in a safe space to honor their connection with each other and their own unique individual journeys. It’s about demolishing the idea that we are competitors and “don’t wish to see each other do well.” It functions as a platform where we can instead share ideas centered around wellness freely with the sincere hope that it enriches the path taken by our sisters.

Black Girl In Om—J. Chavae: Light-working Creator + Healer

Black Girl In Om—J. Chavae: Light-working Creator + Healer

In my opinion, Black Girl In Om means a black woman vibrating at the same frequency of the universe and being aware of that superpower. Realizing that you are connected to everything and everyone around you, realizing that the same vibration that makes up the moon and the stars is also the same rhythm of who you are, realizing that you are tapped into “the Source”.

Black Girl In Om—Yaminah Mayo: Model, Writer, Artist and Affirmer

PHOTO: COURTESY YAMINAH MAYO

PHOTO: COURTESY YAMINAH MAYO

Interview by Lauren Ash

Some women just scream confidence, so when you find out that they're just like you—dealing with their own baggage (a la Badu), insecurities, and having to figure out how to be fully themselves in this messed up worldit makes you breathe a sigh of relief! Yaminah Mayo, aka Spicy Mayo, has been inspiring me with her Instagram posts, blog, and overall black girl exuberance since I first met her at Blavity's EmpowerHer conference last spring! We get to kiki with her and ALL YA'LL in NYC tonight, Friday, February 3rd, at our BGIO Happy Hour! Come through Vivrant Beauty between 6 and 8 p.m. to hang with us! Stay in touch with Yaminah by following her on Instagram @spicy.mayo and checking in with her blog where On Spicy Mayo readers can garner the perspective of a young woman grappling with career, mental and physical health. 

Who is Yaminah Mayo?

I am a model, writer, graphic artist, affirmer.

What does Black Girl In Om mean to you?

BGIO is a safe place. It's really great for women of color positively looking to find their way in the creative world. It reinforces the joy that one gets from uplifting each other and not "othering". 

How do you identify with Black Girl In Om's mission?

All your pillars are very important moral compasses for me. For example, physical, emotional, and mental wellness are critical for me getting through a NYC day. It's really hard here. However, knowing that there is a resource for me to go to when I need it pour back into myself is, within itself, comforting. Especially when it comes time to affirm and speak that prosperity into existence and I need guidance.

What are your self-care and self-love practices?

A self-care routine for me is shutting everything off. It's really hard because I have a tendency to be addicted to Twitter (I get my news there) but I know it's necessary when everyone starts speaking hyperbolically. I also binge watch Girlfriends or Living Single or Frasier. My new/old "ting" is baking and cooking while I watch Girlfriends, Living Single, or Frasier.
Oh yeah, and sometimes I'll take out my pent up frustrations in the gym.  

What's one ritual you recommend more women of color adopt to cultivate inner beauty and wellness?

OMG! Affirmations! I've been doing them since the new year and it is seriously decluttering my mind and I feel like my imposter syndrome is fading. Affirmations not only make you feel great about yourself but it teaches you how NOT to affirm the negative things you think about yourself. It helps me to interact with other and keeps me grounded in a grateful mindset. 

Girl, yas! I so loved how much YOU loved the Lifestyle with Ivory + Ash cards Deun Ivory and I sent your way! It's always great to connect with someone else who knows the power of affirmations and mantras! So, what's one wellness product you can't live without?

My blender or maca root. Both get the GOAT title.

Black Girl In Om—Desiree Verdejo: Beauty Entrepreneur

PHOTO: DESIREE VERDEJO

PHOTO: DESIREE VERDEJO

Interview by Lauren Ash

I'm so thrilled to venture out to NYC this weekend and kick of my yoga and self-care for women of color tour! In addition, BGIO Art Director Deun Ivory and I are thrilled to be able to partner with Desiree Verdejo, founder of Vivrant Beauty, on Friday, February 3rd at 6 p.m. for BGIO Happy Hour! We invite our BGIO NYC community to come out and mingle with us for good vibes in a beautiful space curated with women of color in mind! Learn more about the BGIO Beauty behind this lovely place and be sure to say hello to Desiree online

Who are you?

Hey, I'm Desiree, founder of Vivrant Beauty, a beauty boutique online and in NYC that caters to women of color. We curate natural haircare, clean skincare and premium makeup products to brown women and are proud of the fact that half of our product lines and growing are black-owned.

What does Black Girl In Om mean to you?

Black Girl In Om is a celebration of wellness, self-love and sisterhood.

How do you identify with Black Girl In Om's mission?

I am a Black Girl In Oma woman who appreciates the balance that inclusiveness, peace and self-care brings to my life but also how much more magical they can be when practiced with other black women. These principals are also weaved into the fabric of Vivrant Beauty, our beauty boutique that exists in the premium beauty world and the green beauty spacearenas that are not always mindful of the unique needs of Black women. 

What are your self-care and self-love practices?

I'm currently eight months pregnant and have never been more committed to my wellness practices than I am right now. Eating healthy colorful foods, stretching these hard-working limbs in prenatal yoga and committing to an indulgent beauty routine for my face and body (especially my growing belly) are all necessities.

PHOTO: DESIREE VERDEJO

PHOTO: DESIREE VERDEJO

Oh, congratulations! So happy for you and your family! What's one ritual you recommend more women of color adopt to cultivate inner beauty and wellness?

Society loves to portray images of black women arguing and attacking one another. For me its so empowering to find myself in a circle of likeminded black women whether its a church group, yoga circle or a bunch of fellow entrepreneurs or creatives. There is so much support and mental strength in finding a supportive sister circle and I encourage any woman of color without one to commit to seeking out such a network.

Absolutely, Desiree! So, what's one wellness product you can't live without?

I can't live without soy candles or natural face oils. I'm currently obsessed with a moisturizing facial oil by Yuli named Liquid Courage which leaves your skin so soft and glowy.

I'm going to have to try that out! How may we stay in touch with you?

My key links are www.vivrantbeauty.com and Instagram @vivrantbeautyny!

Black Girl In Om—Courtney Cobbs: Reiki Healer and Wellness Practitioner

Black Girl In Om—Courtney Cobbs: Reiki Healer and Wellness Practitioner

What's one ritual you recommend more women of color adopt to cultivate inner beauty and wellness?

I recommend more women of color carve out time to praise themselves. The frequency will vary for each person but the intent behind it is to boost yourself up, especially in a world that often doesn’t praise US. For years I was so critical of myself and once I started to see where that got me (see: not very far) I started to change how I talked to myself. I carve out time at least once a week to sit in the mirror and tell myself how much I love myself and all the excellent things I did during the week.