If you’re part of the fitness community here in Vancouver, then you’ve probably heard of Alex Mazerolle or @allymaz on social media. She is an inspiring entrepreneur who co-owns Distrikt Movement in North Vancouver and who also founded both Ladyvana and Girlvana Yoga. The work she does with teen girls through Girlvana has had an incredibly positive impact on girls and women here out west. She was kind enough to take a few minutes out of her busy training and travel schedule to share more about what she does with Girlvana.
What is Girlvana and what inspired you to start this program?
Girlvana is a global movement empowering girls through yoga, meditation and mentorship. I started the program because of the way yoga had changed my life in my early twenties. I knew that if girls had access to the powerful tools of mindfulness at a younger age, it could drastically shift the way they viewed themselves and their bodies. Beyond yoga classes and events that happen in different cities, we also bring teenage girls together from all over the world for week long yoga retreats that dive deeply into self reflection and self love supported by a team of women that can relate and support lovingly. For us, it is all about creating safe space for girls to be heard and seen without any fear of judgement. Our goal is to let girls be who they are, exactly as they are and have them truly see their value and worth.
What are some of the things you offer and teach teen girls about in the program?
We talk about real life and the rawness of what it means to be female. The topics can range anywhere form depression, anxiety, stress, consent, bullying, equality etc. Being a teen girl can be very tough as you navigate through your body changing, hormonal shifts, the pressure to look a certain way and to choose your path post high school. We find giving girls the tools to connect with their own voice and intuition through yoga, meditation and mentorship can make these years go a lot smoother. We use the mindfulness aspects to get girls centred and at ease and then our dialogue and writing portions to get girls to share and open up to other girls. We create support networks and connection so girls don’t have to feel so alone.
Who were some of your female mentors growing up and how did they positively affect your life?
I did’t have a lot female mentors growing up and this is one of the reasons why Girlvana exists. I had dance teachers who taught me to dance but not a lot of guidance was there in terms of life. My mom was as incredible listener and did so much for me but at the end of the day what 15 year old really listens to her mom? I find as Girlvana mentors and teachers we bridge that gap offering wisdom and advice from an unbiased and non judgemental place.
Why do you think Girlvana is important for teen girls in 2017?
I think it’s always been relevant but now more than ever given the political climate and where the world is at. It is a powerful time for girls to find their voice and now we have such a powerful medium to express it. Inequality, rape, lack of education for girls in developing countries are still such prevalent issues and the more we empower girls and women the more global change we will see.
What have you learned about yourself through your journey with Girlvana?
I have learned to stay accountable to the way I love, care and listen to myself. Empowering girls keeps me true to my own path of finding deeper acceptance and honesty with myself. I can’t tell girls to love themselves if I am still at war with my own body and mind. I have had the privilege to listen to so many girls share their stories with me which reminds me how precious this one life is. That we are all dealt a hand that we had no control over and its our job to elevate and evolve. There is such beauty in exchanges like these. I have learned to live for these moments. These raw and true moments where the essence of a young woman comes through unbounded by who society or her parents want her to be. There is so much power in listening to another’s story and truly hearing and seeing from your heart.
Where would you like to see Girlvana in 5 years time?
World domination. Girlvana programs all over the world. I’d like to write a lot more books. A retreat center that houses 20 plus retreats a year. Thousands of Girlvana teachers worldwide. I would like to have a seat at some pretty important tables having pretty important discussions about girl’s education and rights.