Making wellness a Caribbean experience

I founded the Gentle Yogi Studio in 2015 when I realised that there were very few safe spaces for persons to heal, recover and manage their stress. I was in Law School in 2008, when I started having severe abdominal pains and after many visits to my doctor, he advised me that it was all stress-related and he recommended yoga.

As a practising Attorney at Law, I learned very quickly from personal experience what high performance and poor self-care could do to your body. My mounting stress levels forced me to embark upon a journey to become well and to feel good. So, I studied at the Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas where I learned about the many benefits of a yogic lifestyle.

I completed my Teacher Training Certification and returned to Trinidad, determined to share these teachings with as many people as I could. Several months later, my sister, Ayanna who suffered from anxiety all through University at Mona, also became a certified Yoga Teacher and now we run the Gentle Yogi Studio together. We both realised that yoga had many tools that we were not aware of that could help us manage our day to day stress.

The challenge we faced was how to apply these age-old techniques to a contemporary fast-paced lifestyle. Our focus became creating accessible wellness practices for Caribbean people who needed to find balance and manage their stress in a sustainable way.   So what we have done is introduce many services that can fit into a busy lifestyle, for example, Mindful Mondays where we explore practical mindfulness techniques as well as our signature GY Strong Challenge focused on a holistic approach to health.

Our desire is to demystify yoga and help people see it as a transformational tool to better living. Our message is that anybody can practice yoga and it is important for people to see that. So we have partnered with a local TV station to produce a yoga series for beginners and will be launching our YouTube channel later this month. We want the Caribbean diaspora to have access to our classes wherever they are.

Why Jamaica? 

I love Jamaica! I have good friends here from University and it feels like a second home. Kingston is similar to Trinidad in many ways with its focus on economic growth and development and what that means is that there are several people out there working hard and highly stressed.

We want to bring our approach to wellness to Jamaica as a viable stress management solution and a tool to complement traditional healthcare.

We would love to be a part of Jamaica’s conversation on wellness and with Jamaica’s natural resources and beautiful landscapes, we think it would be a great space to expand; to host retreats and hopefully soon to open a wellness studio. We would love to continue sharing our love for yoga and wellness throughout the Caribbean; Jamaica is the first stop on our list!

— Aleisha Holder

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