In this age of anxiety, finding peace and calm is big business. With the rise of the wellness scene, we speak to the woman behind London’s first meditation studio, Re: Mind studio founder Yulia Kovalena.
Everyone from Katy Perry to Kobe Bryant to LinkedIn C.E.O. Jeff Weiner have touted their devotion to meditation. With influential personalities testifying to the profound efficacy of meditation, this thousand year old practice has seen a revival in recent years. With the rising popularity of the wellness lifestyle, billion dollar apps and publications devoted to mindfulness have flooded the market. In this climate of commercialisation and self-care, we speak to Re: Mind studio founder Yulia Kovalena about the creation of London’s first Meditation studio and the power of meditation.
The Bod Edit: What was your personal journey into mediation?
Yulia: I actually learned transcendental meditation about 10 years ago. I was struggling with stress and anxiety so I was trying to explore different options like diet, yoga, exercise, and then I found meditation.
I found it was amazingly helpful for me personally, but it took me a long time to come out to my friends that I’d started meditating. It was just considered a bit weird, spiritual or religious practice 10 years ago. It was always an ashram in India or a Buddhist temple and it was always considered slightly weird.
How have attitudes changed since then?
It seems that we are now becoming more aware of mental health in general. Before, everyone was focused on physical health; exercising, getting fit, making sure you get the right nutrients. But that doesn’t have any kind of positive effect if you’re mentally not well, so yeah it’s a balance really. I think what would be amazing is if business like us would give customers the option of working on their mental and physical health.
Why do you think we need to meditate?
I think different people meditate for very different reasons, it’s going to change from time to time.
The reason to meditate could be anything, from trying to cope with a little bit of daily anxiety, finding ways to deal with it, to getting to know yourself better, and exploring the purpose of life. If you learned to mediate in one particular way it doesn’t mean you have to stick to it for the rest of your life. you can experiment and see how it affects different aspects of your life, of your body, of your mind.
Finding these meditative practices is what’s really important for people and that’s why we created the studio. To allow people to try out different options for themselves.
Who is your typical customer?
We actually try not to be very feminine, but a large majority of our customers are women from different backgrounds; mums, single women – it’s just a lot of women.
What makes meditation appeal to women more?
Maybe our message seems more interesting to women at the moment because we are more about using meditation as a healing tool to help you navigate life, not just your career. So all the classes have this healing aspect, we use a lot of sound, a lot breath work, different healing realities. It is not just about dealing with the little stresses of life or improving our productivity.
Do you struggle to feel grounded despite running a business focused on meditation?
Oh yes, majorly. It’s a huge difficulty running a business, specifically a calm business. I find it actually very stressful for me to bring a calm view to my customers. It’s a lot to deal with, but I’m very lucky to have amazing teachers and reiki healers, so I try to use the resource for myself and I do one-on-one classes or sessions whenever I can.
What does a healthy meditation practice look like?
Everyone’s always criticising a certain diet or a certain food product or a certain exercise routine or even how to meditate. It’s always, “you have to meditate 20 minutes twice a day otherwise you’re not going to get enlightened”, which is really not the case. Or, you have to meditate one hour every morning, or you’re going to have struggles for the rest of your life. We are really not like that, we are saying if you want to mediate, that’s great, you don’t have to – if you feel great doing it, that’s fantastic. You can try 5 minutes or you can do 1 hour or you can come to a class every once in awhile. Explore all options, experiment, see what works for you at a certain time – it doesn’t mean it will work for you for the rest of your life. That’s the look we have on wellness in general.
What does wellness mean to you?
It doesn’t always have to always be bright, colourful, super happy and joyous, but a journey. Experience the whole journey and know that it’s okay, it’s okay not to be okay. I think coming here is honouring yourself, honouring your experience, honouring your practice.