Shelah Marie didn’t initially have a concrete concept when she launched Curvy, Curly, Conscious. As a meditation enthusiast who grappled with her own personal issues (including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem) Marie used her social platforms to share her stories in hopes that her experience would inspire others.
A quick scroll through Marie’s Instagram — replete with inspirational quotes, workout videos, and photos from her CCC events — would lead you to believe the health-conscious influencer has it all together but she says it’s quite the contrary.
“I don’t have it all figured out and I don’t think I ever will and I think that’s what I teach,” Marie, who has been doing yoga for the past six years, tells her sweat. “I am still on a journey of personal acceptance and some days I wake up and I don’t accept myself. Some days, I wake up and I think I’m great and that’s okay.”
Below, her sweat. caught up with Shelah Marie to discuss her Curvy, Curly, Conscious movement and her obsession with yoga.
What initially inspired you to get into yoga?
Well, I was living in New York City and one of my roommates noticed I was really stressed all the time. I also wanted to lose weight so she was like, “Well, you never tried yoga – you should try it. You can be relaxed and you can still exercise.” So when I did yoga, it fostered a mind-body connection. I thought that was really nice. Also, my favorite part is Savasana, where you just lay in a corpse pose. So what really piqued my interest in yoga was strengthening the mind-body connection and the fact that it helps me bridge into meditation.
What do you love most about yoga?
I wish I was more disciplined. I’m not as disciplined as I need to be but that’s what yoga teaches me — to let go but my favorite thing about yoga is that it teaches me to be strong and flexible. It also teaches me to sit in uncomfortable positions because I think in life, people who succeed are the people who can face and fit in discomfort, and not say, “Oh this thing is uncomfortable, let me get out of here.” For example, having difficult conversations. As a businesswoman, I find that really what makes you successful is your ability to have difficult conversations and so if I can sit in a pose for two minutes that’s so uncomfortable and I can just sit there and tell myself “You can do this,” I can apply that skill to when I’m scared to have a conversation about business.
Would you say yoga is better for the mental or physical?
I think different people might find different things that they like more about yoga, it’s about the person but I kind of think it’s both. Some people who do yoga, do it just for the physical, for exercise, but then you also have people who use it for its mental and spiritual benefits as well. I think it depends on what you want out of it.
In what ways have you noticed yoga enhance your life?
I love anything that’s a practice. It’s something that I have to keep on doing. You don’t do it once and then get good at it. It teaches me patience, which is something that as an Aries, I’m not so good at sometimes – I want everything yesterday. Yoga teaches me to realize that you’re on a journey and it’s about the journey, not the destination. It also reminds me so much every time I do it of how important breath is, which is a gift because I learned this in meditation as well. When you’re doing these hard poses in yoga and your transitioning and you want to give up, they always will say return to your breath, don’t forget to breathe so that’s something that I use in my everyday life.
What’s a common misconception people have about yoga?
That it’s only for white women and only for relaxation, but it’s a very active thing.
How important is self-care?
If you don’t take care of yourself then what do you have? You have nothing, you can’t drag your lifeless body and yourself behind with all your goals and aspirations so to me, self-care is so important. It’s actually a luxury that I’m glad we get to experience. I personally feel that a lot of black women in America are like first generation observers of self-care. It may have been practiced in our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers but we really have a divine opportunity and that’s the opportunity to take excellent care of ourselves so that we can be excellent members of our family and of society, and also pass these traits onto our children.
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What fueled your decision to launch Curvy, Curly, Conscious?
I didn’t know what I was doing as I was doing it. I heard a quote before that says “You start before you’re ready” and I definitely started before I was ready. I was just sharing aspects of my life on Instagram with the hashtag #CurlyandCurvy and I was talking about my struggles with anxiety, depression and low self-esteem, and it magnetized this community of women who were like, “Hey, I struggled too!” I was like whoa, we should do something so I kind of just thought we should plan events where we can talk about some of the stuff I’ve been talking about online and that’s pretty much how we started.
Since its inception, how have you seen Curvy, Curly, Conscious evolve?
When we first started, we just thought we were only producing this one event and then the next year, we produced four events and a tour. Now, we’re transitioning to an entire platform that produces video, blog content, products and classes where people can come to us and take courses.
Holy shit this made me cry lol. It’s really hard to explain how much love I have for women. How much joy I get from being able to help us heal and grow in creative ways. — When I saw this video all I could think about was young Shelah who wasn’t Black enough for the Black kids, White enough for the white kids, Cuban enough for the Cuban kids — and didn’t feel at place at home. Young Shelah who knew the neighborhood police officers by face because they came to our house so much, etc etc etc. I am BEYOND grateful I had wonderful women intercede on my behalf and tell me “you are beautiful” “you are smart” when I didn’t believe it. And I thank God for whoever the fuck it was that introduced me to meditation lol because it saved me from ending my life. — Woman. I love you. You are worthy. I have so much in store for you! — Thank you to the amazing folks at @trendallday for this feature. #trendingallday
What was your journey to self-acceptance like and how did you reach a point where you could help other women as they embark on their own journey?
I don’t have it all figured out and I don’t think I ever will. I think that’s what I teach. I heard a quote that said, “You teach what you just learned” and that’s how I feel. A lot of people may think you have to be a master or an expert at something before you can share and I don’t. All I do is translate information that works for me and hope that it works for other people. I am still on a journey of personal acceptance and some days I wake up and I don’t accept myself, some days I wake up and I think I’m great and that’s okay.
How would you advise women to accept themselves and cancel out their inner critic?
That takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of work that you have to do by yourself and then have other people facilitate for you. I literally treat loving myself like a job. The same way you get up every day and you work, that’s how I look at loving myself because it’s that important. When you’re somebody who grew up with low self-esteem, having a high regard for yourself is really revolutionary and it takes work. I read books, I listen to podcasts, I watch YouTube videos, I talk to people so for women, I’d say just find what works for you – that’s my mantra. Surround yourself with people who tell you how great you are, surround yourself with people who love you and gush on you, it’ll really make a difference.
Aside from yoga and meditation, what other workouts do you do to keep your body in shape?
My frame and the way my body is and my genetics, I’ll always have to work out, which is fine because I like being active. I do HIIT cardio [high-intensity interval training] and so I do really high sprints of like 15 seconds on and 15 seconds off or 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off like 10 rounds at 10 mph on the treadmill. I also lift weights. I do exercises that I find on YouTube or that my trainer gives me with squats, lunges and Russian deadlifts.
How do you motivate yourself to get out of bed and head to the gym?
I have a vision board. Sometimes I don’t want to go and then I’ll look at my vision board and I’m like, look at how many things you have achieved. This is what you want to achieve so just do it. I go do 30 minutes or 40 minutes… I try to keep images that inspire me around. [My boyfriend and rapper] Ace [Hood] inspires me a lot as well because he’s very dedicated to his workout practice and he loves working out so I’ll see him going and then I’m like alright, I guess I gotta go. [Laughs]