AZIAM’s Alanna Zabel on Yoga, Clothes and Her Own Joyful Heart
Alanna Zabel, incredible supporter of the Joyful Heart Foundation and the creative genius and yoga expert behind the AZIAM clothing line, recently spent some time answering our questions about her clothing line, her collaboration with Joyful Heart and AZIAM’s latest piece to benefit the Joyful Heart Foundation, the perfectly-fitting, perfectly-named Victory Short, available now from the Heartshop.
Joyful Heart Foundation: Thank you so much for taking the time to share a bit about yourself and AZIAM with us! Tell us, what inspired you to start the AZIAM line?
Alanna Zabel: AZIAM began in 2003, as my one-page website listing my yoga classes and retreats. It stood for “Alanna Zabel I AM”. In 2007, consultants for Ashtanga Yoga guru, Pattabhi Jois, asked me to create a sample active wear line for an upcoming new studio they were planning in Key West. Having been a dedicated Ashtanga practitioner, I set out to create the most amazing sample collection as my gift to Pattabhi Jois. His system of Yoga had such a positive effect on my life; his was my way of saying “thank you.” The pieces that I presented were well received and the plan was to call the line “PJ’s.” I felt my job was done and I was pleased. But Pattahbi Jois—in his early 90s—grew ill shortly afterwards. The Key West studio plans was placed on hold. He passed away within a year afterwards. I was left with the gift I intended for my “guru,” and it became one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive.
JHF: How did your involvement with the Joyful Heart Foundation first begin?
AZ: I was teaching yoga to Heather Mnuchin, a board member of the Joyful Heart Foundation. She felt the AZIAM Wife Lover was a perfect fit with Joyful Heart and made an introduction. The social intention of our Wife Lover is to assist and empower women who have been victims of abusers, or Wife Beaters, to use the negative apparel slang. The Joyful Heart Foundation couldn’t be a more perfectly fitting partner—I am continuously amazed at what a phenomenal, heart-centered and significantly helpful organization the Joyful Heart Foundation is.
JHF: What does Joyful Heart’s cause mean to you?
AZ: The Joyful Heart Foundation impresses me on so many levels, particularly in their focus on healing and empowering victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. I have been a victim of domestic violence and I know that it is a difficult, elusive struggle that most people do not understand. There is no set formula or protocol that will heal every victim and many victims are left feeling unheard and unloved as a result, thus perpetuating the abuse cycle. The Joyful Heart Foundation exemplifies and proves to me every time that it is present-moment kindness, attentive understanding, true compassion, out-of-the-box healing techniques and raw education that will not only help a higher percentage of victims to move on to living a healthier, happier life, but will also continue making a global difference in violence prevention.
JHF: The Wife Lover tank, which as you said, was AZIAM’s first product to support Joyful Heart, says “I AM PURE JOY” across the side. What is pure joy to you?
AZ: To me, Pure Joy, is our natural state of existence. Our world has skewed away from its pure, honest, void-of-motive origin. I try my best not to be saddened by the state of the world, but instead hold in my heart how I know we are meant to live—sharing, loving, creating—without fear. That essence of Pure Joy is my personal dream and hope for a more organic, non-violent world.
JHF: AZIAM is launching a new item that is also be benefiting the Joyful Heart Foundation! Can you tell us about it?
AZ: AZIAM is thrilled to launch our new Victory Short! This is truly the most perfect fitting, flattering short. It has a wide, double layer V-waistband that offers support and style of equal measure. I’m not typically a “shorts” person, but I can’t stop wearing these! Because the fit is so strong and confident, I decided to name it Victory. This goes hand-in-hand with the Joyful Heart Foundation’s mission—offering hope for the journey of a survivor of violence. It’s also the perfect compliment to the Wife Lover tank.
JHF: At Joyful Heart, we encourage ourselves and our supporters to practice self-care. Is yoga your daily practice of self-care?
AZ: Yoga is definitely one of the many ways I practice self-care. I have been teaching yoga for fifteen years and the benefits are truly as holistic as any other fitness modality I have yet to come across. The body is a web and when we bring positive awareness and proper alignment to one or more areas of our selves, the impact is exponential throughout our physical, mental and emotional systems.
JHF: With your busy schedule, how do you find the time in the day take to take care of yourself?
AZ: There was a day when I was the yoga instructor who sipped tea and coconut water with my friends in between yoga classes and massages. Now my days are filled with activities of an apparel designer, manufacturer, social activist, writer and brand manager—while still teaching, leading workshops and retreats. What I find helps my busy schedule is minimizing. Adding more “doings” can still be stressful because it is still an activity that needs to be completed. My lifestyle is incredibly clean and yogic already, but by maintaining a life that is void of chaos and toxicity, I find that I am have more capacity to get more accomplished. I do not eat processed foods, drink alcohol or smoke and I stay clear of toxic relationships—all of these can be incredibly draining and therefore require more self-care to counter their effects.
Personally, I find it is most about balance.
Be sure to visit the Heartshop to pick up your new AZIAM Victory Shorts today. Be sure to match it with an “I AM PURE JOY” Wife Lover tank, too! A generous 10% of all net proceeds from each sale of these items are donated to the Joyful Heart Foundation.
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