Here at Peak and Valley, we have been interested in topics surrounding self-care/wellness. The term ‘self-care’ specifically is starting to become an overused buzzword in marketing and news outlets. Separating out what self-care means for you personally means ignoring a lot of marketing jargon and messaging. We all have to remember that self- care doesn't have to be expensive or exclusive. Given that, we have an interview series where we ask people what self care and wellness means to them.
Provide a short introduction explaining who you are.
Hey loves! My name is Sophiann Mahalia and I am Jamaican-Saint Lucian American professional dancer and choreographer. I currently live in Philadelphia, PA and I am the founder of AfroFit by Sophiann Mahalia where I provide Afro HIIT dance classes where my saying is, “Dance is for everybody who has a body!” I’m empowering every individual to MOVE WITH CONFIDENCE!
How do you define self-care?
Self-care for me means taking extra time for things that are centered around my well-being and growth. It means taking the time out to create the growth I want to see in myself and making it one of my main priorities. It can be me taking time to meditate in the morning, getting more workouts in, booking a massage, learning my ancestral history, or speaking with my therapist. It is taking those extra steps to evolve into my higher self.
Self-care for me is about growth and self-preservation so I can show up as my full and truest self every day.
How do you start your day? If it differs from day to day, describe your ideal morning.
I’m currently working on my ideal morning and it is coming together slowly, but surely. In the morning I wake up, take my allergy medication, make my special tea, and go to meditate before I start my day. My special tea recipe consists of boiling ginger root, steeping dandelion root in the boiled ginger root, mixing in Peak & Valley Nourish My Brain blend, elderberry syrup, Auntea Sam allergy tincture, raw honey, and a slice of lime.
This tea blend has helped with my allergies tremendously and it helps me relax my body into my meditation for the day.
After that, the rest of the morning usually is filled with morning workouts, answering emails, promoting my Afro HIIT dance classes, and finding grant funding for my current passion project; The Reclamation Dance Project. TRDP is a touring dance production that will provide a one-week residency filled with guest speakers and master workshops centered around the teen and adult black women experience where participants will be given a judgment-free zone to acknowledge traumas and use art as one of their therapeutic healing methods. With the guidance of our non-profit partner, The National Association of American African Dance Teachers, our primary goal is to bring this dance production to various participating high schools and universities nationwide. So my mornings are definitely driven in bringing my projects to fruition so that I may share them with my community.
What measures do you take when you feel off-balance/stressed? Do you have any bedtime rituals that help you sleep well?
When I’m feeling off-balanced/ stressed I’ve actually started incorporating this exercise where I set a timer for 5-10 minutes, close my eyes, and point out the things I am hearing. Being so focused on naming the things around me helps keep my breathing normal and lets me decompress from whatever is currently stressing my body. I also like to lay on the floor and stretch to relieve tension.
What is your philosophy around wellness?
My philosophy around wellness is finding your own balance and always making sure you’re enjoying yourself while doing it. We all know that we need to work out and eat right, but if you’re dreading it the whole time you’ll never want to keep up with your wellness. If you want to meal prep your favorite entrée but it isn’t the healthiest thing to eat, find a healthier version or substitute to experiment with. If you want to work out, but you dislike going to the gym then join a dance class so you can listen to your favorite songs, bust a move, and get your exercise for the day in without you even realizing it.
How has your being a Woman of Color influenced your daily wellness routine?
Being a Woman of Color has influenced my daily wellness routine by having me search for more black women-owned businesses for health and wellness. As a Black woman, our health mentally, physically, and emotionally is not prioritized so I have made it a mission to make it a top priority for myself.
We are honestly a high-risk group when it comes to diseases, pregnancy issues, and mental health. So I’ve set out to discontinue this narrative by first starting with self and making healthier lifestyle choices which means more exercising, adopting a vegan lifestyle, and using dance art to find different moments of healing along with joy.
Along with this, starting The Reclamation Dance Project has become a part of my daily wellness routine because this is a program I feel is much needed for Black women’s mental health so that they can have more community support and therapeutic methods to heal ailments they are dealing with.