Finding Balance In The City
Meet Bianca Stephenson: Yoga teacher, sound healer, and restaurant owner in London.
We got the chance to catch up with Bianca about her East London life where she spends her time teaching yoga, meditation, and running her friendly neighbourhood cafe, Dudley's, with her partner, James. Having only moved to London a few years ago from Canada after meeting her now husband on Instagram, she's quickly made England her new home. Read on to learn about how she finds balance and joy in the bustling city.
You are a yoga and meditation teacher. How did your journey with yoga and meditation start?
My journey with yoga and meditation started with a very serious hospitalisation in my mid-twenties. I had rhabdomyolysis - a life-threatening condition in which the muscles die and release waste into the bloodstream at a quicker pace than the kidneys can process. I was immobile from the neck down and attached to an IV for two weeks. I ended up in this state because I had pushed myself far beyond my physical ability in a single workout class.
In my healing, I recognised that my mind was extremely detached from my body. I wasn't listening to its cues; I didn't know its limits. I was determined to change this, so I started to take my physical, mental and spiritual health more seriously. I got sober. I improved my diet. Then, I booked a yoga teacher training intensive in Thailand. At first, I wasn't planning to go on and teach. I just wanted to reap the personal benefits of practicing every day for six weeks. However, I soon discovered that I enjoyed holding space for others. Specifically, I enjoyed slowing the pace down for city dwellers in practices such as yin yoga and guided meditation. So this is what I do now!
You teach sound healing meditation classes. Can you explain what sound healing is and how it has been instrumental in your life?
Sound healing is an ancient therapy that has been used across many different cultures for thousands of years. There are several methods and traditions, but usually people are guided into a relaxed position such as lying down before they are "bathed" or surrounded by sound. The instruments that create the soundscapes - such as crystal singing bowls, gongs, tuning forks, and others - are tuned to special frequencies that help synchronise the brain waves. This helps the body and each cell heal itself. If you think about it, everything - including the earth, the body, thoughts, cellular data, lights and of course, sound - has a vibrational frequency. Every day we are exposed to a mishmash of high and low frequencies even though we cannot see them and for the most part cannot feel them. Sound healing is a way to reset from this.
Sound healing has been important for me because I have always lived in a big, bustling city. I am often overwhelmed with my schedule and surroundings. Because of this, it is difficult to reach deep meditative states; my mind is often all over the place and my body takes the brunt of this stress. To me, sound healing helps bypass this. It's almost as if I enter a lucid sleep-like state as soon as the instruments are played. It's really quite fascinating how instantaneous the meditation comes.
You’re originally from Canada. How long have you been in the UK and why did you move to London?
I've lived in UK for three years. I moved here to be with my partner, who I had met on Instagram in 2019. I had always been a freelancer and avid traveler, so I thought why the heck not shake things up? It's not like I had my roots down anywhere; "home" is just a place inside myself. After seeing and experiencing how vibrant and alive people are in London, I have never looked back.
Food must be important to you as you own a restaurant in London - please tell us about it! Have you always been a foodie and how did your passion for food begin?
Food is very important to me! I love to eat a good meal, but the passion to run a restaurant comes from the time and space shared with others. My family are Filipino; growing up, every meal was an event and every meal was enjoyed together. I left my family behind when I moved to London to start a new one with my husband, James. His family is small and tight-knit, but he also craves bringing people together over the blessing that is being fed. This is what Dudley's is about - creating a space that is shared; a place where memories can be made over hearty food and good coffee.
What are certain things you do every day to keep your body and mind healthy?
Because every day looks different to the last, it's important for me to have some stability in the form of routine. In the morning, I try to wake up somewhere between 6 and 8am so that I have time to journal and not feel rushed. I find that writing whatever comes to me in those early hours helps to set me up for a clearer-headed day. A cold shower and taking supplements are also part of my morning routine. I try to exercise in the morning at least four times a week, and when I do I make sure to help my body recover using Cellular Hydration. It's also been great for improving my mood and stress management because it has magnesium! In the evenings, I make sure I'm off my laptop by 6pm. I tune down by dimming the lights in my home, moving into activities like reading, meditation, yin yoga and listening or creating calm music.
Do you have any wellness tips you’d like to share with our community?
My biggest wellness tip is to listen to your body. It can be hard sometimes because our minds are oftentimes so strong they can power through anything. But, if the body starts to lack rest and nutrition and therefore weaken, the mind can start deteriorating too. Meditation and breathwork can help us drop back into our bodies and know what it is they are asking for, whether it's to sleep, stretch, eat more vegetables, stay in or socialise. Supplements are also massively helpful for physical and therefore overall wellbeing. I find in this day and age it is so easy to be at a vitamin and mineral deficiency so help in this area is key! I didn't even realise that I was struggling with gut health until I started taking G.I. Fix. and noticed a marked difference. There are powerful natural supplements that can help with everything from mood, sleep, digestion, and immune support. It'd be silly not to utilise them!
Are there any exciting projects on the horizon that you’d like to share with us?
At the moment my husband and I are renovating our café Dudley's! We are running a Crowdfunder campaign and deeply appreciate any support of our little business at this time. We'll be opening again very soon our space and offering will be a thousandfold better and I can't wait to share it with London.
We also launched a yoga mat/homewares brand called Kokoni less than a year ago. Soon we will collaborate with other artists and makers on intention-filled home objects.
Finally, I'd like to plug Really Nice Sounds, our sound healing moniker. We've just spent a summer doing festivals and guerilla soundbaths in the park, so watch this space for accessible soundbaths in beautiful spaces through the fall and winter.