It’s no secret that the wellness world is overwhelmingly white. Thankfully, Lauren Ash, 29, is changing that. The Chicago entrepreneur’s multifaceted lifestyle brand, Black Girl in Om (BlackGirlInOm.com), is all about creating the ultimate happy place, online and IRL, for black women to practice self-care through holistic health. “Unfortunately, the wellness space is not immune to discrimination, prejudice, and racism,” says Ash. “Many women of color entering a yoga studio face things they shouldn’t face anywhere, but particularly not in a space that is supposed to be all about healing and mental health.”
For Ash, the idea started with the name, Black Girl in Om. “I’d been practicing yoga consistently for a few years, and in all the spaces I practiced, I noticed I was the only black woman,” she says. So she decided to create a space of her own “to cultivate yoga and other wellness practices for women of color.” That was three years ago, and she’s been building the BGIO community ever since. In addition to offering yoga and meditation classes, workshops, and other events at varying locations around Chicago, Ash and her team of five produce a podcast (recent eps cover the importance of representation in the beauty world and integrative health advice from a WOC doc), and an online publication (with subject matter ranging from the significance of chopping off one’s hair to being a black feminist in Trump’s America).
Much to Ash’s delight, the community she’s created is benefiting from her mission. “One thing I hear again and again from women who come to Black Girl in Om sessions is that they have an immediate sense of belonging and an immediate sense of security and safety that they can’t always find somewhere else,” she says. “Some women rock a headscarf to class here but when they are in more mainstream settings they might get looks or questions. It’s just a space to be yourself—whatever that looks like.”
By Sabrina Ford
Photos by Deun Ivory
This article originally appeared in the October/November 2017 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
More from BUST