Meet Navi Gill. She’s an ancient soul living in the modern world, working as an Ayurveda practitioner, yoga teacher, holistic wellness educator and entrepreneur. Navi has been learning and practicing the healing arts for the last seven years. Her world is being immersed in wellness, higher vibrational living and reviving ancestral wisdom for the present day, especially connecting women to ritual as a form of self care. It is important for Navi to create space for women of colour in the world of wellness and for us to be the keepers of our own wisdom so it can be shared with authenticity and reverence. Navi’s work allows her to provide people with solutions and an understanding connection between mind, body, and spirit so they can naturally live their best life rooted in joy and staying in the present.
Tell us about the path you took to get to where you are today.
The path I took was not mapped whatsoever, I actually resisted following my calling for a long time because I had never seen another South Asian woman pursuing this especially not one that was my age. It wasn’t until I had what I would now call a spiritual awakening of sorts at 23 after I lost my grandfather. I realized whatever I was pursuing at the time wasn’t fulfilling my soul or giving me purpose and I have always strived to live a purposeful life where I could uplift and bring joy to others as well as myself. I had to get very quiet, dig a lot and realize that everything that I am currently working with had actually always existed in me as a child. I was always super curious about astrology, astronomy, healing, wellness, herbalism, caring for others and teaching. You could find me in my room reading for hours on end and creating art, writing or putting on shows for my family and I get my light from those very same things as an adult. I graduated from BCIT in Marketing specializing in Communications but felt the industry didn’t share or support my value system and that there wasn’t space for my authentic self to thrive in the corporate world at that time. I travelled to India for my grandfathers last rites and that trip brought me to Kerala where I discovered that the word Ayurveda was what I had been looking for my whole life. I came back and as a way to support my own healing process, pursuing Ayurveda became a necessity for me. I had to really look hard for a place to study that was close enough to home and was not intimidating to me because I didn’t feel I belonged in the western world of wellness. I found I was always the youngest person and usually the only South Asian woman at wellness related events I attended and I faced the same challenges finding a school outside of India that had authentic teachings. My first training was a summer intensive program in Ayurveda healing in 2011 and from there I continued to build my skills to include yoga, life skills coaching, Marma therapy and Ayurveda Technician Training. When I started, I was shit scared and met with a lot of criticism (namely from our own people) and not much support because I found most accessible practicing healers or herbalists in the Indian culture were men, it wasn’t considered a viable career option and people didn’t take me seriously because I was half the age of most of the other practitioners, but I knew there was nothing else that made me come alive and be as in tune with the divine and my Ancestors than Ayurveda. Times have changed now and we are taking up more space unapologetically in many places you didn’t see South Asians before. My advice would be, if you haven’t seen it being done, it means it’s yours to create and define and that’s where endless possibility, magic and potential lies. Learn to differentiate between other peoples’ fears being projected onto you vs genuine obstacles or challenges, and approach accordingly and learn to work with others, especially other women because our culture raises us to believe to succeed we have to relentlessly compete but if we work together collectively we can share wisdom, resources and create a bigger impact and trust, there is enough for all of us if we are open to it.
How important is it to you to make South Asian women feel empowered?
For me it is incredibly important, a large part of my work is to decolonize wellness and that comes from my desire to ensure that all WOC including South Asian women feel seen, heard, represented and have access to health, wellness and healing. This came from watching many of the brown woman around me suffering silently with anxiety, depression, emotional and mental abuse and a whole lot of other seen and unseen traumas. I realized that I had the privilege and options to practice self care, I understand what that word “self care” means for me and I had to struggle to get there but if I were to ask my mothers generation they can’t fathom taking time for themselves or what they would even do to take care of their minds, bodies and spirits. To me, women are god; we create and sustain life, run households, businesses, governments and unfortunately the South Asian culture has been deeply rooted in patriarchy where woman have suffered greatly but our generation has to do the work to not only unlearn this way of being but also healing ourselves so we can help uplift and heal others to prevent them from walking the path from the past. Empowerment is also something that has to be cultivated from within but we can inspire one another by holding space for each other being vulnerable, supporting each others journey no matter how different it looks from our own, having acceptance for ourselves and others and know that we are the keepers of our own fire and magic. My work shows me everyday that if women are healthy and well in their mind, body and spirit we are even more of an unstoppable force and that makes me so excited.
What is your personal motto or mission statement?
My personal motto is always changing depending on where I am in life, one that always sticks with me is “be light, live light, travel light.” Because my name is Navdeep, which means new light, it constantly reminds me to aspire for higher living, if it’s creating heaviness in my spirit then it has to be shed so I can remain uplifted. Living in a higher vibration allows me to experience love, joy, depth of life that I need in order to serve the world and fulfill my purpose here. My mission is to experience life in all its facets, remain in my centre and constantly learn and evolve, stagnation kills me so I don’t stay in one place too long.
Besides your work, what are you passionate about?
Oh hands down, travelling and eating, buying trinkets/crystals and especially anything I can get my hands on in terms of luxurious herbs and wellness products and being in the company of people who make my spirit excited, invoke curiosity, share wisdom and love.
Where can one find you on your days off?
Depending on the season you will likely find me with my sisters making and sharing a big vegetarian meal or finding the best vegan spots, doing yoga/ meditating, learning something new, creating something with my hands, writing, making cha, watching Hindi movies in my blankets or jumping on a plane for my next soul adventure.
How do you balance work, life, family?
I have had the luxury to build and create my work around my life rather than the other way around because I am my own boss and for my other business my sisters are my partners. On the flip side when you do work for yourself there is really no set work hours or schedule, sometimes you are on the clock all the time and especially when you are working with people and their wellness it becomes very personal and you have to be accessible. I ensure that I work to my capacity and practice daily self care, my Sadhana (meditation, yoga , spiritual practices) is crucial for me to maintain harmony in life. If my minds right, everything else becomes right. It helps give me the clarity to know when to say no, what things to pursue, the energy to carry out my work. For me life is holistic and every part makes up our entire story so I don’t believe in the grind until you die mentality, work has its place and it is a part of life but not the entirety. We have to be able to actually be present and live life through our joys, griefs, relationships, and passions not just keep planning and preparing for it.
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