Posted by Lauren Ash
Black Girl In Om is certainly unique in many respects: our aesthetic in how we represent women of color, our approach to curating our wellness gatherings, and more. However, we are a part of a larger wellness movement and community led by fellow women of color that also affirm the importance of cultivating self-love and self-care as women of color. One significant visionary leading this movement along with us: Chelsea Jackson otherwise known as Chelsea Loves Yoga. Whether you follow her inspirational Instagram account or attend classes at her Atlanta-based yoga studio Red Clay Yoga, you know how much of a light Chelsea is. I had the pleasure of connecting with Chelsea in-person over tea and conversation this past December after admiring and appreciating her for over a year and I'm so thrilled to continue our Black Girl In Om Features, and kick-off Black History Month 2016, with Chelsea. Read on and be just as inspired by Chelsea as I am. And if you're a yogi in Atlanta, consider taking the next step in your yoga journey and attending a workshop or even signing up for yoga teacher training with Chelsea in 2016!
What does Black Girl In Om mean to you?
When I think of Black Girl In Om, I think of connection. I think of how comforting it is to see who I am in this world reflected through the images and stories of Black women practicing self care.
I think of a continuation of a lineage of Black women who have always possessed their own unique magic and who have found ways to gather, learn, practice, and share our lived experiences.
How do you identify with Black Girl In Om's mission?
Black Girl In Om resonates with me and my work because of the focus we both place on Black and Brown women when thinking about yoga and mindfulness. My mission through Chelsea Loves Yoga, has always been to "cultivate community through yoga" and I see Black Girl In Om in this light as well.
I identify as an artist who uses yoga as a tool to tap deeply into the ways in which I write and teach. For me, I can't help but to see the artistic celebration of Black womanhood revealed through the images and words shared through this platform.
What are your self-care and self-love practices?
Because I teach yoga, train yoga teachers, write about yoga, and direct a yoga program, it took time for me to carve time for my personal yoga practice. As a result, I know I am practicing self care when I make time to take a class, or practice at home.
Although I love massages, I can't always make it to a therapist, so I practice abhyanga which is an ayurvedic massage that can be done with warm oils + herbs or essential oils. This practice is essentially a self massage that not only stimulates circulation throughout the body, but is great for the skin as well!
Finally, a simple but true self care practice is the practice of saying no. As Black women, we often want to (or have no choice but to) take care of everyone. I am just learning in my adult life how to say no when I begin to overcommit. I am learning more and more that this self-love practice in particular opens space to practice all others.
What's one ritual you recommend more women of color adopt to cultivate inner beauty and wellness?
I encourage Women of Color (including myself) to practice a ritual of telling y(our) stories. Whether it is through journaling, speaking, artistic expression, or embodied practices, it is critical that we tell our story in order to sustain balance with regard to our own wellness and the ways in which we experience the world.
Through my non-profit Red Clay Yoga and our program Yoga, Literature, and Art Camp for Teen Girls at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, we primary focus on the ritual of storytelling, along with the practice of yoga, reading, and creating literature.
When we practice the ritual of telling our stories, we resist, as Audre Lorde puts it, "being eaten alive" by other people's fantasies of who we are. Each time we show up, gather, and even document ourselves engaging practices of self care like yoga, we define and push others to reimagine what beauty is; all the while cultivating our own holistic wellness.
What's one wellness product you can't live without?
I am pretty much an essential oils fanatic. I am totally into organic oils like lavender, lemongrass, and peppermint. I clean with these oils and also use them for abhyanga. I also use rosemary for scalp massage. In other words, essential oils give me life!