In Conversation: YOGINI NANCY ZAGBAYOU ON TAMING STRESS, MAINTAINING A ROUTINE AND OPENING UP THE WELLNESS INDUSTRY
Best Health|June/July 2021
What comes to mind when you think of self-care? Maybe it’s scented candles and a meditation app or colouring books and a face mask. But Montreal-based wellness entrepreneur Nancy Zagbayou believes self-care is not something to be purchased. “For me, self-care is self-compassion,” she says. “And that compassion gives us the ability to be resilient.”
ISHANI NATH

Zagbayou, also known as the Yogini Nancy, is a yoga and meditation educator, as well as a inclusion consultant for the wellness industry—an industry that in the past year has been called out for excluding Black and Indigenous people, and people of colour. Zagbayou says racialized women are often “made to think that caring for ourselves is a luxury when, in fact, it’s not. It’s fundamental.”

Here, she explores the true meaning of wellness and how to create spaces that are welcoming to everybody and every body.

This feels like a loaded question these days, but how are you doing? I feel like I have the tools to manage the current situation, and I’m staying busy. That is helping me be well.

What exactly is helping you right now? Having a routine that is set—I sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time. I may not be on my yoga mat every day, but I read about philosophy, meditate or focus on my concentration, do some breathing exercises or participate in acts of service every day. Any time I’m doing an element of yoga, it helps improve my mood.

Are these tools you’ve always had or ones you’ve developed over time? When I was working in my early 20s as a financial analyst on Wall Street, I had no tools. I was very stressed, and my mind was very busy. When I moved to New York City, I was living by myself. So already, that was taking me away from my support system—and I didn’t know then about yoga or meditation. I was drinking and partying instead. But I learned a lot from that experience. I learned the impact of stress on the body and the importance of family and friends. I learned to ask for help when I needed it. I experienced the right amount of stress so that it was a catalyst to look for the tools to cope.

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