Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hello, I’m Zakiya, founder of Mindwalk Yoga, an online well-being studio this is a social enterprise. I mixed heritage Jamaican and English and live in East London. I’ve been teaching Yoga for 12 years, practicing for 20+ years and my focus is now on Yoga Therapy for anxiety, trauma and insomnia.
What does a day in the life of Zakiya look like?
My days are a mix of teaching for Mindwalk Yoga, running the social enterprise alongside my amazing team, lots of swimming, yoga-ing and seeing friends and family as much as possible.
In my downtime I do a lot of reading, my favourite authors include Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison.
How did your yoga journey start?
I started practicing Yoga at 17, looking back I was a very anxious teenager so I think the idea of doing something to find calm appealed to me. I grew up in Birmingham and we didn’t have Yoga classes widely available then. I got a Yoga book and started my Yoga journey at home.
How did you make the decision to become a teacher?
I trained with the British Wheel of Yoga at 25, it felt like the most natural step in my journey as I’d been practicing for so long and I wanted to deepen my understanding.
Tell us about the idea behind your platform – Mindwalk Yoga
Mindwalk Yoga was born from the desire to represent Black women in Yoga and to reach people, specifically Black women who don’t think Yoga is for them.
Mindwalk Yoga has a unique proposition – we are founded and run exclusively by Black women. While our online studio centres and prioritises Black women we are open to everyone.
You can think of Mindwalk Yoga as like a boutique Black female version of the Calm App but with Livestream practices and real community.
You work with a collective of women on Mindwalk Yoga – what does community and collaboration mean to you?
Our community is everything at Mindwalk Yoga. We are an online studio so they are based all over the UK, they are logging in, connecting with each other and making time for their mental health. From London, to Edingburgh, to Yorkshire.
Black women who never thought yoga was for them are joining our well-being community! We offer Chair Yoga and make are classes accessible to disabled people and people with mobility conditions. We always make time for conversation, chatting and sharing before classes – this social interaction is truly unique and shapes who we are.
How did you find yourself teaching/specialising in Yoga for Anxiety?
I’ve been teaching yoga for more than 12 years and I now specialise in yoga therapy for anxiety, depression, insomnia and PTSD.
And I teach from a knowing place. I have anxiety and I’ve had periods in my life where I felt like my anxiety symptoms like Racing thoughts, shallow breathing and a deep sense of not belonging anywhere, were out of control. Using Yoga as a tool to self-managae made me want to specialise in ths space.
How have you witnessed Yoga benefit those suffering with Anxiety?
Supporting people to self-manage their anxiety has been the best part of my journey with Mindwalk Yoga. I share practices in classes and long courses that enable people to find their own path. This testimonial says it all from a participant on an 8-week course.
“I am in my 30’s and have struggled with depression for about 3 years clinically but in honesty I think I’ve been depressed for most of my life. I’ve dabbled with Yoga before, as a Beginner, on and off and enjoyed it. But it never really ‘resonated’ with me because I was uncomfortable with the ‘spiritual’ bit and being under-represented in class. What has happened to me since is miraculous! The peace I started feeling after doing the Week 1 homework felt so good. But I didn’t really notice it until after Week 2. I was enjoying doing all the exercises as part of my routine and realised I couldn’t hear the constant negativity and buzzing thoughts in my head as much. I was more focused and less fuzzy.”
What would be your top 3 tips for someone dealing with anxiety?
- Seek professional support, this is really important.
- Talk to trusted people.
- Be open to explore different well-being practices.
What kind of yoga teacher would you say you are?
I am forever a student, continuously learning. IMy teaching style encourages students to explore what is right for them, I offer up approaches rather than specific direction. And I share Yoga’s roots so people get an insight to Yogic traditions and philosophy.
How do you practise Yoga/Meditation for yourself?
All the time. Mornings and evenings are normally my time to starts and the day with calming breathing practices, but honestly I am dipping into my practices throughout the day.
What would you recommend to improve everyday wellbeing beyond practising yoga?
I would encourage you to do what feels right for you and what brings you joy. This is different for everyone. Getting fresh air and being out in green open spaces helps me to ground and feel connected, but this is different for everyone. Be open to new well-being ideas as are are constantly changing and evolving.
What is your favourite piece of equipment/prop to use during your practice and why?
Pillows! I practice a lot in bed and use my pillows to make supported positions feel comfortable.