Navigating Mental Health Resources for the Pandemic & Beyond.

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The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought on many issues for people all over the world. Some people have experienced job loss and loss of income; some have lost loved ones. Not to mention increased isolation and the drastic changes to our lifestyles like working from home, not visiting the mall, long lineups for the grocery store. Moreover, for the BIPOC community, the pandemic has added extra challenges. After the death of George Floyd by police officers last year was caught on tape, and outrage over the death of First-responder Breonna Taylor also by police, Black people around the world felt helpless and restless. Our mental health was undoubtedly significantly impacted. Additionally, the increase in Asian hate crimes all over North America also left another community particularly moved mentally by this pandemic. 

Here at Malcolm’s Choice, we have a few businesses we wanted to highlight working within the health and wellness field. As most people may not prioritize mental health and wellness, we know that it affects our overall being. Moreover, it seems that it is more important than ever to highlight services that cater to mental health and wellness as we navigate the challenges that COVID-19 Pandemic has left behind. Moreover, we want to showcase Black professionals who are navigating the wellness space.

woman wearing black sports bra

For fitness and Wellness, Suzi Mari fitness is a great resource. She is currently running online fitness classes as gyms are closed during this third Ontario lockdown. She is excellent for those who want to get in shape this summer and get rid of their pandemic weight or those who are just looking to make an overall lifestyle change. In February, Suzi Mari stopped by the Charles Matthew Show alongside our founder Jodi-Ann Campbell, and she dropped some fitness and food tips for us to use during the pandemic and beyond. Read her tips in that previous blog post here.

WellnessToGo, is a wellness-based resource run by Ingrid Herbert. She provides Emotional support sessions, Reiki & Vital Energy Healing, overall relationship healing, maintaining healthy relationships, and contributing to an overall healthy lifestyle. During the pandemic, some of us may have been cooped up with loved ones. Being around those people constantly may mean that it has affected your relationship negatively. Ingrid Herbert may be what you need to revive those relationships. Herbert may also be able to help you if you have anxiety about going out in the dating world post-pandemic as well.

Finally, we have yoga instructor Liz Idowu, founder and owner of Liz Idowu wellness. She is a Toronto-based instructor with many qualifications that go beyond yoga practices; she is also a choreographer specializing in many fields of dance. I caught up with Liz to ask a few questions about what it’s like to be a black, African- Canadian woman in the wellness space, as well as get some insight into what she does in her own words:

1. Who Am I?

I am a Queen! I go by Liz Idowu, Lizi if we’re kindred friends and Kemi if we’re family :).  I’ve had a long journey of movement studies starting from traditional Tap, Jazz, Ballet and West African to Contemporary dance.  I discovered how healing and therapeutic the freedom to move could be.  Thus, I elevated from studying at a performing arts high school and dance in University in Montreal then New York!  In New York, I discovered yoga’s physicality, which piqued my interests when I needed it for my body.  Then in travelling back to Toronto, I found more about the philosophies and more about what yoga encompasses, and I was able to exhale, then breathe it in.  I consider fitness and yoga two different things as yoga isn’t just about the asanas (physical posture).  It’s mindfulness, connectivity, awareness and more.

2. How it feels to be a yogi of African descent in Toronto.

In truth, I thought yoga was an expensive, slow dance technique class.  I didn’t see anyone who looked like me practicing it.  Further, I was shocked to discover the practice originated in India!  That was not the visual I saw when I began taking my first yoga class by recommendation from a friend after I experienced an injury.  I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb until I started exploring different modalities of the practice and different environments and realized this is a gift from a nationality that has been shared with all of us, like with many cultural gifts are shared within communities.  Toronto is a melting pot of so many beautiful cultures coming together to share their experiences and knowledge, and the gift of yoga is one of those jewels we get to dive into and explore while honouring where that knowledge comes from.  We can also make this gift our own but incorporate elements of ourselves which is a vital element of maintaining authenticity.  I now want to see more black or African Canadians dive into this practice and see how it can only add to our wellbeing and further connect our community at large.

3. Services I provide.

I provide a platform for Fitness, Yoga and various Movement studies/modalities.  We can explore them in different ways, including a class/group format, one-to-one, and explore workshops/courses.  All of these modalities are available virtually and will soon be available again in person!

We offer live virtual classes with drop-in + membership options.  This summer, we will also have subscription services to our library of courses, including yoga, barre, functional training and dance!

To book yoga classes with Liz, visit her website at https://liz-idowu-wellness.square.site/

Ekua Sekyere

Ekua Sekyere

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Malcolm’s Choice is a Black owned business directory that provides affordable marketing solutions for local Black business owners and entrepreneurs.

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