My Bedtime Routine: Lauren Ash, Founder of Black Girl in Om – Self

We’re always on the hunt for the next great bedtime routine. In our Sleeping With… series, we ask people from different career paths, backgrounds, and stages of life how they make sleep magic happen.

Lauren Ash is equal parts yogi and businessperson—and has nailed down a routine that speaks to the fact that she “does both.” Ash founded Black Girl in Om, or BGIO, in 2014, hoping to create a collective that would rewrite what it means for Black women to be and feel truly well from the inside out. Her vision included inclusive yoga, breathwork, meditation, and other mind-body practices that promote healing. Now, BGIO has expanded to include wellness practitioner training, digital memberships, mentorship programs, merchandise, and more. “We’re here to unapologetically expand the consciousness of Black women to transform. Period,” the BGIO about page reads.

As a startup founder is wont to do, Ash has spent the last few years bouncing around—she lived in Chicago for six years, Los Angeles for one, and then moved back to her hometown of Minneapolis shortly before the pandemic. “This year was obviously trying on all of us, and especially as a Black-embodied person—and a woman at that—I have felt the weight and the energy and the intensity of everything,” Ash tells SELF. “But because of who I am and because of the purpose that I know that I have, it has been, at the same time, a beautiful opportunity for me to dig deeper into myself. I think the fact that I literally took a bath before this conversation is indicative of that.”

Below, Ash shares her new bedtime routine, along with a few mindfulness practices you can try on your own to wind down before bed.

Lauren Ash shares her bedtime routine

Lauren Ash shares her bedtime routine

Courtesy of Lauren Ash

I pause throughout my day pretty frequently because the nature of my work is so interesting: I’m both an entrepreneur and I’m a healer.

I’m holding space for myself to heal, for my community to heal, but I’m also about my business. And so to really honor the multidimensional nature of who I am and how I show up in the world, I take time for a meditative moment. It could be just five minutes where I’m just putting on some music and I’m moving my body, or I’m sitting in stillness. It’s really whatever the day is calling for. But moments of either a mindful pause and stillness or mindful movement are definitely my go-to.

This past year was the first year that I cultivated an intentional nighttime practice.

Since 2020 I’ve been really big on morning rituals, and so it’s been great to be able to bookend my day properly. I usually take a bath. I’ll put Epsom salt in there that has magnesium in it, which relaxes the muscles. I usually put a little essential oil in there as well. Lavender is definitely a go-to. And actually with my bath today, I used Foria, a CBD brand geared toward women’s pleasure and relaxation. I used some of their new bath salts, which was really nice.

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SaltWorks Lavender Scented Premium Epsom Bath Salt

This lavender scented epsom bath salt comes in a five-pound resealable bag

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FORIA Wellness Bath Salts with CBD & Lavender

These Epsom salts are infused with organically-grown kava, lavender, calendula, ginger, and hemp, for a total CBD chill-out.

I recently started practicing the art of Abhyanga after my bath, which is oiling and massaging the body.

I just heat up some water in a little dish, discard the water, and then put some sesame oil in the dish—the dish warms up the oil—and then literally from head to toe, I’ll do self-massage. As a single person during a pandemic where you’re not encouraged to see others in person, this has been a really profound practice for self-pleasure, connection with self, and getting to know my body. And it’s very warming as well.

In the evening, I’ll usually practice a particular Kundalini practice that is rooted in creating an energy around you of self-love.

Kundalini yoga is really about an experience. It’s about, Okay, I’m going to hold this pose, or, I’m going to repeat these poses over and over, and noticing what the mind does with that repetition or noticing what the mind does with that holding of that one pose. If you just look at it, it looks pretty simple, but after about 11 minutes, it can be quite intense. Practicing this at night is beautiful, because then I go to bed with that energy of self-love and connection.

Sometimes I journal at night, but one thing that I have been picking back up is just reading a little bit.

Not putting a lot of pressure on myself, but just picking up a book and noticing what it is that I want to nourish myself with for the evening. The other day I was reading Adrienne Maree Brown’s Pleasure Activism. Then I listen to a little music, a little beautiful chorus. I just gravitate toward really soulful or spiritual vibes, or sometimes a mix of them both. And then I hop in the bed.

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La Tourangelle Toasted Sesame Oil

You can use this sesame oil for anything from cooking to self-massage.

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‘Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good’ by adrienne marie brown

Author and editor adrienne maree brown explores social justice through the lens of something she calls “pleasure activism,” a politics of healing and happiness that explodes the dour myth that changing the world is just another form of work.

Before this year, none of those things were happening.

My nighttime routine has been a game changer, because instead of going straight from work to maybe seeing a friend for dinner, and then just straight to bed, it has allowed me to really properly take care of myself and even integrate and reflect on what happened in the day. When the pandemic hit, I had recently moved back home with family. So I did not have my own space for the first seven months of the pandemic. Everything that I just spoke to, I’ve cultivated in the past two months since moving into my new place, which I am really obsessed with.

I got a Tempur-Pedic bed this year, and that has been a game changer.

Because it’s really a bed that I can sink into, but still be supported, so that’s beautiful. I’m in yoga nidra teacher training, and my teacher, Tracee Stanley, refers to this powerful practice of creating nests for ourselves. Just like birds do. Just like squirrels do. We are also animals in the natural world. We can do this within our homes and create spaces where we can get the best rest that we so deserve. [Editor’s note: Ash recently produced her first guided meditation EP in partnership with Tempur-Pedic.]


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