When Nikki Adams turned to yoga to heal the trauma she endured as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, she found that the same spaces which often preached inclusivity were unwelcoming.
“When you walk in and you lay your mat down and you get stares. It’s micro stuff, it’s all the isms, it’s more than racism, it’s ableism and fatphobia. You can feel the aura of unacceptance,” Nikki said.
In 2019, Nikki branched out on her own and opened Beauty For Ashes Wellness Cultivation – a yoga practice with an emphasis on healing for survivors for childhood sexual abuse.
As a survivor herself, Nikki has intimate knowledge of how childhood sexual abuse contributes to struggles later in life, including addiction issues and body dysmorphia.
“I struggled; I was homeless, I was married young, I had kids young, I was just in survivor mode and there was nothing specifically for childhood sexual abuse survivors,” Nikki said.
“When people talk about sexual assault, they think it all falls under the same umbrella, but [childhood sexual abuse] is really different. That’s what they’re missing. That this is happening everyday. In people’s homes, on the internet…so many people go through it; more than we will ever know.”
As a yoga instructor, Nikki holds an intake session for all clients to learn about any potential triggers before their first class.
“People don’t realize that certain songs can be triggers, smells…certain positions in the room.”
While she is there to guide, Nikki says her classes are client-led, as they work to find what feels best.
“It’s about choices and empowerment. With sexual assault and trauma, we don’t have those choices a lot, Nikki said.
In Summer of 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, Nikki’s practice gained traction as she and fellow Black yogis joined together to reclaim yoga as a space for healing and even raised $4,000 to send a Black yoga to a training course.
“When you look at the “#yoga” on Instagram, you see what the world thinks of yoga as, and it’s skinny, white women that can contort themselves into these different figures. What I don’t think white women realize is that this is cultural appropriation and they take it and make it a workout, when it’s supposed to be a healing thing. It’s almost like church, not religion, but a safe place.”
Nikki continues her virtual programs, which includes a six-week program for childhood sexual abuse survivors called ‘Cultivate your Ashes into Beauty.”
The title for the class and her business come from a Bible verse in Isaiah.
“God is saying to anyone who has been through oppression, ‘you will receive beauty for your ashes.’ It really resonated with me, because I really do believe that. I’ve been through so much and I believe I deserve that. Anyone who’s been through a lot deserves some relief and a good life.”
To learn more about Nikki and her wellness practice, visit https://nikkiadamsyoga.com/ or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.