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New campaign combats burnout among Black women

Zakiya Bishton, founder of Mindwalk Yoga, relaxes and meditates on a yoga mat
Zakiya Bishton, founder of Mindwalk Yoga

A social media campaign celebrating the power of rest amidst an endemic of Black women’s burnout has won the support of prominent Black British women in the UK.

Lydia Amoah, CEO of Backlight and Founder of The Black Pound Report, Paralympian Vanessa Wallace and Leanne Levers & Roshan Roberts, Co-Founders of Dope Black Women, are among those who have pledged time for more rest in 2023, in support of the #BlackWomenRestinginto2023 campaign.

Launched by Mindwalk Yoga, the UK’s first online yoga studio led by Black and Black-mixed heritage women, the campaign promotes the critical role of rest in supporting Black women’s well-being and improving mental health, while centring their experiences in the UK’s often ‘white-exclusive’ wellness industry.

It follows a survey of Black and Black-mixed women, conducted in collaboration with community organisation Dope Black Women, which reveals that in the last year 82 per cent of the respondents suffered from stress; 80 per cent experienced anxiety, 59 per cent reported burn-out and 55 per cent suffered from insomnia.

Zakiya Bishton, Founder of MindWalk Yoga and teacher specialising in yoga therapy for anxiety said: “The importance of yoga and rest to support anxiety and burnout is essential but can feel inaccessible to Black and Black-mixed heritage women. We need affordable spaces led by and for us to experience healing and nourishing practices. The many roles we have while navigating racism and discrimination mean we often have to sideline self-care to keep going, but it’s harmful to our mental and physical wellbeing.”

Oya Heart Warrior, founder of Unapologetically Black Yoga, lies on the grass in a restful yoga pose
Oya Heart Warrior, founder of Unapologetically Black Yoga

Mindwalk Yoga was set up in 2021 as an online yoga studio dedicated to creating inclusive spaces where Black women are represented and centred. It has rapidly grown in popularity with over 200 members regularly engaging in its classes, 200+ practices led by Black and Black-mixed heritage teachers, and the introduction of a new VOD App this month.

But representation in mainstream yoga continues to be a problem, ith 90 per cent of respondents saying they don’t see themselves reflected in these spaces, and of those who had attended practices, 44 per cent claimed that they felt ‘out of place’, like they ‘didn’t belong’ or ‘unwelcome’ in those settings. In addition, access and inclusivity was still lacking, as 77 per cent of Black women said there weren’t enough practices run by and for Black/diverse people, 71 per cent said there aren’t enough Black/diverse instructors and 65 per cent said the classes weren’t affordable.

Roshan Roberts, Co-Founders of Dope Black Women, said:

“I can think of Black runners, Black tennis players, Black netball players but I can’t think of Black yogis. Not even friends or relatives. Whilst I know they exist, many women Black especially, don’t see themselves represented so don’t feel like it’s a place or environment for them. It’s considered a “White thing”, and this perception is gate keeping a lot of women who look like me, from improving their physical and mental health through accessing yoga.”

Lydia Amoah, CEO of BACKLIGHT and Founder of The Black Pound Report, said: “I want to see more Black women feeling seen in yoga; it will inspire interest and involvement. More opportunities must be available to engage Black yoga teachers.”

Paralympian Vanessa Wallace said: “Quite often, the yoga 'scene' doesn't always allow Black people to feel or be seen. That is why I am supporting this campaign and would love to see more Black people represented in yoga, which may hopefully inspire more of us to discover its amazing benefits.”

Oya Heart Warrior - Founder of Unapologetically Black Yoga, is also a supporter of the campaign. She said: “The image of the thin, flexible, white woman clad in Lycra doing the splits, leaves many Black people feeling yoga is a closed shop that’s not for them. Black people are tired of simply surviving and being strong. They want access to inclusive, accessible yoga practices that understand who they are and support them with tenderness to feel valued and to thrive.”

Mindwalk Yoga has released a special 14-days of anxiety support guided journey and a navigating burnout playlist, available on its new VOD App via the App store and Google Play - sign up to a 7-day free trial and a monthly membership is £14.99 after that. Mindwalk Yoga is open to everyone, all identities and ethnicities are welcome.


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