A photography campaign series created by Ellie Jade to promote more diversity and inclusion in the health, wellbeing and fitness industries launched in January in the Metro online and I was featured alongside some phenomenal change makers. Visit's Ellie page to see the stunning photographs and you can read below my contribution.
“Feeling healthy and having a sense of wellbeing allows me to feel connected between body and mind, experience harmony in my relationships, have a good work/life balance and have physical strength and endurance to do all that to which I feel drawn. My health and wellbeing have centered around my yoga and sound healing practices and rowing out on the river.
Yoga, in particular, has offered me the space to find calm, balance and stillness in a hectic world – like being in the eye of the storm – centered. Grounded as all around me turns and twists. Before committing to a regular yoga and meditation practice, I felt fractured, overwhelmed with stress and anxiety from a demanding career and the challenges of mental health affecting me personally and my family life.
Yoga has transformed my mental health and my sense of self, allowing me to sit with my vulnerability and stand in my power, and to take up space as a woman of colour, a social justice activist, and a leader in the workplace. Now I have more resilience and inner strength to accept what is and to change what I can.
My yogic path is committed to increasing diversity in modern postural yoga by changing perceptions and broadening representations within the industry so that it is more accessible and inclusive for people of colour, with different sized bodies, with disability, with those who identify as non-binary or gender neutral, and who have low economic status – and anyone else who has ever felt that yoga practice or yoga studios are not for them.
Yoga is for EVERY BODY – not just the super bendy flexible body types who happen to be white women as a rule. Without intent, this can feel exclusionary for those who do not conform or fit the “norm” in the wellness space. Feeling different, being a minority or feeling marginalised in a space which is dedicated to wellness is more challenging to accept as that’s the complete opposite of what it should be about - this revelation comes with sadness and disappointment. The expectation, when you are new to yoga, is that as the practice is all about union then the yoga world ought to endeavor very hard to be a unifying space by recognising that privilege exists to benefit some and inadvertently excludes others.
I have committed to my dharma – my life’s purpose - by seeking to offer healing and renewing spiritual practices rooted in my authenticity as a “second generation immigrant” from India and my fierce social justice warrior aspect by ensuring that I seek to create and collaborate with partners that aim to be inclusive and representative of all or doing it on my own!
It is my karma to serve my community with love, compassion and wisdom. I believe that by offering, sharing and collaborating around inclusive spaces and diverse representations, we can change perceptions of race and culture, become more body positive and bring communities together. The ripples of feeling good flow out and make city life a kinder place where all of us feel as if we belong in every space.
If I was sitting before my teenage insecure, fearful, traumatised and ashamed self now – I would hold her by the hands, look her in the eyes, and remind her that she is a fierce, courageous, intelligent and loving soul who has descended from warrior ancestors and to hold her ground, to trust herself and find allies! She is the change she wants to see in the world.”