In this enlightening episode, we venture into the healing universe of Parisa Shirazi Chavoya, a queer Iranian-American woman who's transforming the wellness landscape in Milwaukee with her unique blend of yoga and sound healing practices.
A double graduate of Marquette University, Parisa's incredible journey from political science to the realm of healing is a story that needs to be heard. With a strong emphasis on trauma-informed, accessible classes, her work aims to serve individuals with chronic pain conditions, disabilities, and pregnant women.
This episode is a tribute to resilience, a celebration of diverse culture, and an exploration into the power of sound healing. Parisa's journey with fibromyalgia and her mantra, "Don't be afraid of being still," serves as an inspiration to many. Tune in to discover how she leverages her experiences to foster a culture of wellness and empowerment.
02:34 - There was this desire to learn more embodiment practices where I was able to find healing and rest through movement and yoga became that tool for me throughout my twenties.
04:52 - I think my experience of my own healing journey of learning how to better support myself and also having a chronic pain condition myself has really drawn me to being more empathetic and understanding of other people's realities. I've been doing a lot of extensive training to be able to learn how to work with people.
08:35 - Movement had become my medicine. And also when it came to the mental health aspect, I had become so busy with my life and didn't know how to really quiet my mind, and that was resulting in panic attacks, high stress levels.
What's the story you want to share with us today?
I really want to share more about my own healing journey and how wellness has played such a big role in that.
How do you identify?
01:55 - I identify as a queer Iranian-American woman.
Were you born in Iran or were you born here?
02:04 - I was born outside of Chicago. Both my parents are from Iran, came here when they were young, and my brother and I were born in the US.
How did you get on the path that you're on now?
02:16 - It's been a journey for me. I have always been really interested in movement. It comes from my culture. Iranians are very expressive people. We're very creative people.
02:54 - My chronic pain condition of fibromyalgia and then mental health concerns really drew me towards yoga and sound healing.
How did you go from being a practitioner to being an educator or a healer?
03:13 - I was feeling really drawn to working in higher ed. I had roles in different capacities and felt really driven in that way.
03:36 - I signed up for a yoga teacher training program, not really knowing where it was going to take me. And I fell in love with the practice and the idea of sharing that modality with other people.
What's been your greatest joy as a yoga practitioner?
03:56 - I love seeing people rest. The last couple of minutes during the class is Savasana, which is the time of complete rest. People are able to be still during that time and every time I get emotional seeing it.
How has your identity informed the choices that you've made?
05:11 - My background is Iranian, we're culturally very hospitable people. We love to serve other people, hold space for other people. And so, that has always naturally been a part of my journey. But now to be able to do it through yoga has been a really cool way to be able to share that.
Do you offer your courses, your classes throughout the community? Do you have a particular space that you use?
05:37 - Currently, I am at a space in Bayview, but I'll be shifting to a new space that I'm hosting my classes called Moving Galaxy in January of 2024. And I teach five times a week there. And then I also host monthly sound healing sessions at that space, but I also do sound baths at other locations all throughout the city. So, I'll collaborate with organizations. I have done some at Marquette for students and it's an opportunity for people to experience the modality in different spaces.
You said you work with children from time to time, or not?
06:23 - I've worked with high school students, but I won't do under high school right now. I really feel drawn to working with adults.
How has the theme of the mural resonated for you?
06:49 - In my senior year when this mural was created, it was this really exciting time to be able to see people like me represented. I think it's empowering for myself and so many other women, on Marquette's campus, especially young women who are in these formative years of trying to understand how do they present themselves, how do they see themselves show up in different spaces.
What women of color have served as inspiration for you?
07:19 - I've drawn inspiration for my current work from a lot of other women of color, yoga teachers, specifically Indian women.
07:35 - From Iranian women who have been at the front lines of women liberation movements for years now to historically in the US. So, many women of color being the front lines of peace movements.
How has your wellness practices really helped you overcome challenges on your path to healing?
08:12 - Yoga in particular has helped me a lot with my physical ailments and mental health. So, physically, with the chronic pain that I had, I was able to alleviate a lot of the discomforts that I was carrying in my body. I was able to find a modality that was sustainable for me where I didn't have to rely on medication and other tools.
08:52 - Yoga and meditation has helped me learn how to be still and to be comfortable with just being on my own and being with myself and really listening to myself in ways that I hadn't for so long.
09:06 - Sound healing being the practice where a practitioner plays different instruments to help someone come into a state of meditation and rest has helped me have space to process what has happened in my past, to learn how to heal from past traumas and abuse and learn how to move forward with what I want to do now.
When you talk about sound healing, is that employing like recorded music or do you play instruments in the class?
10:14 - I did a training where I was able to learn multiple different instruments. I curate a session for people where they'll be usually lying on their back. I'll walk around folks, and play instruments above them. These sound therapy sessions are where people are being exposed to frequencies that help them come into the state of rest and can be really healing for people who have experienced trauma and they're able to process and release within these sessions.
What has been the role of women of color in your healing, especially as you're trying to meet the challenges and overcome some of the ways in which they can kind of stop you?
11:08 - I'm super grateful for the women of color friends that I have in Milwaukee. I'm super grateful for my Milwaukee community of just seeing how other friends have addressed challenges they've gone through, and I've just learned a lot about patience.
11:48 - I'm really grateful for online resources and other women who have shared with me and it's been a journey that I'm continuing to learn.
Are you vegan?
12:00 - I am not vegan.
12:17 - I've been trying to be really cognizant of what I eat and I'm working with a health coach right now and take note of what feels good for me and what doesn't and a lot of plant-based stuff for sure.
What do you hope for women of color?
12:33 - I think the biggest thing for myself and for the women of color that I'm surrounding myself with is for us to learn to trust ourselves and to listen to our bodies more.
13:02 - I read this quote the other day of, it was talking about how a woman becomes her best friend when she actually cares for her own health. And it was this beautiful moment of, I can be my own best friend. I can be that person who nourishes myself.
What are your hopes for the future in your own, Marquette's, the world?
13:26 - I hope that we can learn how to be free. Free to explore what we're excited about, what it means for us to be healthy beings, for us to be able to connect and love each other well.
What would you like our community to know about you and your journey?
14:45 - What's been most important is education, furthering my own education and supporting other people. Since I was a young girl, I wanted to be a teacher. And it's been really beautiful and fun for me to see how that's manifested in different ways and to the space I'm in now as a yoga teacher, guide.
15:11 - I'm always learning, taking new trainings, to be able to learn more about how to serve other people in a greater capacity.
If you had to give a tip or two to other women who may be sort of struggling to find that balance, what might you suggest they do or start with?
15:43 - Learning how to say no more. For me, I had to really sit down and look at my schedule and decide what was nourishing me when it came to social commitments, when it came to life responsibilities.
16:22 - Communicate to people clearly why I was saying no; this is the time in which I'm taking to care for myself, and also to be really patient.
What would your motto be?
17:57 - The word stillness comes to mind. I think the thing that's coming to mind for me right now is don't be afraid of being still. I think for so long I viewed stillness, equating it with this laziness or this lack of drive. And I found a lot of power in allowing myself to be, to sit with myself.
The Our Roots Say That We're Sisters Podcast series was recorded and produced by Podcast Town (www.podcasttown.net)