The Zen Mother: Lauren Ash

Lauren Ash takes pride in helping Black women thrive. She moved to Chicago in 2013 for a promising job at a policy-focused organization; when the role didn’t turn out to be as stimulating as she’d hoped, she turned to yoga and meditation. Ash became so passionate about self-care that she founded Black Girl In Om, a lifestyle website that helps other Black women see themselves included in conversations about mental health and health-conscious living.

“At the time when I created it, I needed it myself as a Black woman,” she says. “It was really key for me to be able to merge my appreciation and love for sharing spaces with other Black women with my love and appreciation for wellness. And obviously, within the Black community, we are disproportionately affected by the systems of oppression that keep us down. So creating Black Girl In Om was a no-brainer.”

Black Girl In Om also offers in-person self-care events and hosts an iTunes podcast. In each episode, Ash and her creative director Deun Ivory (who is also on this list!) sound off on everything from the lessons they wish their younger selves knew to the benefits of organic food.

Even though her soothing voice and direction have won over crowds through her guided meditations, Ash's approach to wellness is more than just downloadable tips — it's a lifestyle. “Growing up my grandmother always told me, ‘Don’t take any wooden nickels,’ which I think about every day. I’m trying to only accept what is authentic. And I want to help other women do the same.”

Black Is The New Black is Refinery29’s celebration of 20 Black women who kicked down doors in their fields this past year. Black women who are reminding the world that we are not a trend or “a moment.” We’re here — and we’ve been here. Check out the full list.

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