Intersectional wellness: enter the Nalaverse

In this Inner Eye Series, we spoke with Theresa Shropshire, founder of Nalaverse and an entrepreneur to watch. The Nalaverse is a mental wellness community that’s focused on supporting Black practitioners in an inclusive environment that offers various meditation and movement opportunities.

Most entrepreneurs aim to at least finish their MBA before branching out on their own, but not Theresa Shropshire. Her tale of transformation from beginner student to wellness business leader is full of inspiration—along with her advice for those embarking on their own mindfulness journeys.

From MBA to namaste

It all began in business school. Two years into her MBA, Theresa realized she was ready to branch out on her own. She enrolled in entrepreneurship classes and began searching for the right business idea: “It was funny, one of the things my friends started saying was ‘why don’t you try yoga and meditation?’ This entrepreneurship journey is causing you stress. You need to relax!”.

“I was like, ‘fine, I’ll try it’. But I was the only woman of color in the classes I tried. It was awkward and uncomfortable and I didn’t feel like it was really my thing—until I met Aubrey.”

That’s Aubrey Howard: a breathwork specialist who connected with Theresa on her journey and life experiences, marking the start of an exciting new chapter for them both. (You can access Aubrey’s content through Nalaverse and in a guided Maloka series. More on that below.) 

It didn’t take long for the benefits of meditation to convince Theresa that this was a worthy endeavor. “I was less stressed and more confident in my career and my life. But if I’d had the experience of feeling like it wasn’t for me, I was sure that others had as well. So we looked for teachers that would resonate with our community and gave them creative freedom to offer what they thought the community needed.”

Creating a meditative space of acceptance

In addition to creating spaces where students had representation in their teachers and mentors, Theresa encouraged Nalaverse teachers to think creatively when it came to the variety of teachings. 

Though there are many collectives that bring together wellness practitioners, Nalaverse is a world apart in values. Accessibility and wellness go hand in hand and the classes are welcoming to everyone. “For People of Color, we’ve heard them say how amazing it feels to see themselves in the practice space. And then our White friends say it’s refreshing to learn from people from a variety of backgrounds.”

Bringing together different backgrounds and teachings is part of what makes Nalaverse so unique. The collective prominently features music in its teachings—bold, beautiful sounds and songs that carry on the long tradition of music as a healing practice in Black communities. Through the music, participants focus on breathwork to focus on their physical bodies before getting into their minds.

Technology is another important part of the accessibility promise. “Being virtual and on-demand is inherently more accessible. We’re there for you when you can’t get out of bed in the morning, or if you’ve never felt comfortable turning up to a physical class. There’s also much less of a cost barrier when things are online.”

Theresa’s journey has taken her from business school to a wellness community founder and champion of accessibility. And it’s only just beginning. Corporate programs run by Nalaverse are taking off, with participants reporting decreases in their stress levels of 50%.

And there is still so much opportunity out there.

Asked about the difference Theresa sees in her own life—and what Nalaverse helps others to achieve—Theresa pauses. “I’ve learned to continually connect with myself. It’s easy to get stressed and just feel like you’re running and running but meditation grounds you and brings you back to who you are and your purpose. It can help you find peace wherever you are, and that’s something that everyone can benefit from.”

Advice for new meditators

Four tips for new entrants to the world of meditation and mindfulness from Theresa Shropshire, founder of Nalaverse community wellness group. 

  • Don’t get frustrated by your first few experiences. There’s a teacher out there for everyone, but not every teacher is for everyone. Keep searching.
  • Book more time than you think you need for self care practices. One popular approach is to start your day with meditation but, knowing it’s often the first thing that gets dropped when time is short, schedule more time later on to ensure you find a few moments in your day.
  • Find an accountability buddy. Whether it’s a friend or a teacher who you connect with, having someone think about you and wonder whether you’ve practiced today can be a little added boost.
  • Create a space in your home that is sacred for meditation and activity. There are always going to be dishes and laundry, but if you can forge a corner to escape from the demands of life, you’ll find it easier to block out the distractions.

Want to dive in? The Nalaverse series in Maloka lives up to all Theresa’s promises! The program looks at overcoming perfectionism, with practices that focus on self-acceptance, gratitude, and stress relief. There are seven Nalaverse teachers involved—perfect for those still searching for their favorite match.

learn more about maloka