“If you want to live a happy life, you have to make a change! You can’t wait for it to just happen, because it won’t.” Those are the wise words of Powerhouse Sisters and Founders of “Own Your Glow” Ngudju and Mwanini Makangira. The African rooted women are on a mission to spread awareness, sisterhood, and inspiration thru their once project now turned major platform Own Your Glow. The OYG platform promotes healthy living, self care, and spiritual practices like yoga, journaling, and meditation. The sisters believe without regular self-care you might feel like you are stuck and fall into the habit of believing you aren’t worthy or deserving of the life you desire. During the pandemic many people are suddenly realizing that balance is necessary in various areas of their life. Platforms like OYG are a saving grace during times like these where people are yearning for an outlet to help them reflect and release.
The Makangria sisters believe owning your glow comes from within, its all about investing in yourself first. In just a short 2-year span in the health and wellness space, the OYG movement has made an impact in the lives of many women struggling to find their true purpose. Both sisters once struggled with the issue of embracing themselves like many other millennial women of color. Coming from a background with mixed family roots having a Dutch mother and a Burundi father, wasn’t always easy for the sisters, especially when it came down to finding their authentic voice within. Over years of self discovery and exploration the two found what it meant to love themselves and wanted to make it easier for other women on their journey. They compiled exercises that helped women learn to love themselves.
Ngudju and Mwanini know there isn’t an overnight transformation when it comes to loving yourself fully, but their goal is get women on a path of recognizing where their fears may be rooted, helping them take accountability, and understanding that they’re the masters of there own destiny. They’re working to change the representation of women of color and what self care looks like. Thru their virtual self-love challenges, mirror exercises and countless videos, Ngudju and Mwanini are setting the standard for women on their healing journey looking to embrace their God given strengths.
I got the pleasure to interview the sisters, here’s what they had to say:
How were you introduced to yoga and meditation, what did that journey look like for both of you?
We both have an individual story on how we start our journey of self-discovery. Unfortunately, both of our journeys started with health issues.
“At the age of 26, I got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, that moment my life changed drastically. Up until then I wasn’t living a very healthy lifestyle. I ate a lot of junk food, drank a lot and was even smoking! Because I didn’t want this disease to take over, I knew I had to make a lot of drastic lifestyle changes.”
I did a lot of research about the disease and learned about the healing effects of yoga and plant-based eating. From that moment I quit a lot of bad habits and started a plant-based diet and began to practice yoga. I completely fell in love with the practice and I can truly say that yoga has given me so much! It gave me balance, discipline, love, and motivation to be a better person and get more out of my life. Most importantly it gave me my health my back!
My journey started around the same time. At 19 my life changed when I got the wrong antibiotics for a minor urinary infection. After that I wasn’t able to walk normally anymore, lost strength in my arms, hands and, all my energy. I had to take 3-4 naps a day, to do minor activities, like getting the groceries. I completely lost my body and turned into an old lady. Sleep was such a big part of my day that at one point I just didn’t even bother coming out of bed anymore and that’s when I got depressed. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and I just accepted that this was it now. So at 19 I gave up already.
Until my sister showed me that she got better by changing her diet and implementing yoga. If she could do it, then I could too! So I changed my mindset and dedicated ever-day to meditating, eating healthy and journaling. At 23 I finally found out all this pain was caused by Lyme disease.
Our lives used to revolve around work, but we knew we had to make a change, we had to stop worrying about others, worrying about money and start looking out for ourselves. Because you can’t enjoy life if you don’t have your health.
When was Own Your Glow start? What is your mission?
We started this as a project about 2 years ago. With Own your Glow we share our story of living with Chronic Illnesses. We decided to combine our knowledge of yoga and meditation, so we could inspire more people to find inner peace, eat healthier and practice more yoga! Most importantly with Own Your Glow we want to let people know that their not alone in this journey.
We wanted to create content about Self Love, healthy Plant-based Food, Yoga, and Self Care. Share our love for our passions with the rest of the world and make it a brighter place and, teach people how we found our inner glow, so they can find their glow and start shining from within.
What has been a moment that has impacted your journey either separately or together?
When Mwanini had her last relapse that when we knew things had to change and find a way to move forward in life. I quit my job as flight attendant and Mwanini had to quit hers, because she needed to recover. At that moment I was living in Thailand, and being away from each other when something like that happens, feels hopeless for both parties. So when I returned, and she recovered, we immediately started working on starting our own business.
We’ve always been very close, but starting a business together brought us even closer together. It’s been a rollercoaster with lots of highs and plenty of lows, but we could always count on each other to make the journey lighter for both of us.
How have you been able to use OYG to influence women of color on their wellness journey?
When we started OYG we never thought the platform would grow as it did. Unfortunately, women of color are not very well represented in the wellness industry and we believe this needs to change. There are plenty of interesting and wise women of color in the wellness industry that we can all learn from. These last few months we’ve been using our platform to give these women a chance to share their story and wisdom with our followers. Hopefully, together we can inspire others to start living a healthier, more loving, and energized lifestyle.
Who would you say is your target audience and what is the general feedback from them like?
We don’t have a specific target audience, but most of our followers are women like ourselves. Young women of color who are on the path of self-discovering.
Women and Men from all backgrounds have joined us in the journey, and we’re grateful that our story has inspired them to live life to the fullest.
It’s been amazing to be able to share our journey with others and along the way, we have met some amazing people who have shared their story and journey with us. We think that if we as women come together and support each other we can learn to motivate, inspire and collectively achieve some amazing things.
Can you give us some insight on your personal background? What was it like growing up?
We were born and raised in The Netherlands but are blessed with roots in the heart of Africa. We used to hate our name, we used to hate a lot of things about ourselves. Our skin-color, facial features, hair, just because it wasn’t fitting to the European beauty standards. Only when we started our journey of self-discovery, we learned that we don’t need to hold up and give in to all these beauty standards.
We just wanted to be 100% ourselves and love and accept every part of our body and mind. Besides that, we just really want to live a peaceful life! A loving life, a life where we don’t’ have to fit in and live by other people’s standards.
What’s next for OYG? What can we expect to see in the near future as far as collabs and events?
2020 has been a strange year for everybody including us. But we feel like things are slowly turning around and a lot of things we were hoping for on are manifesting in reality. So we have some exciting projects coming up Below are a few of our most recent collaborations we are proud of.
We have been working together with Oysho, creating online Yoga and Meditation mini courses which can be found on their social media. On Wednesdays, we host IG Live Yin Yoga and Meditation sessions.
Together with Unplug, we’re sharing beginner friendly guided meditations that are all about learning to love yourself, connecting with your breath and calming down your mind.
On Routinr we share all of our routines, making it easier for others to get into a plant based diet and learn how to implement yoga and meditation into a busy lifestyle.
Right now we are working on setting up a funding to help smaller communities in Uganda, as we have been spending all of our time here the past few months due to the lockdown.
Follow the Mwanini and Ngudju’s journey here.
All images courtesy of Own Your Glow