Sinnead Ali is a woman on a mission – hoping to empower, educate and inspire women through the intentional practices of meditation and Yoga, so they can break free from the restraints of self-doubt or low self-esteem and become liberated in their emotional, sexual and mental health. With a background in Yoga and the co-founder of Asia’s first sexual wellness festival – SPARKfest, Sinnead recently launched her first book Moody Nails: The Mudra Guidebook for pre-order via crowd-funding, which offers readers accessible, simple and practical meditation tips, paired with stunning artwork in the form of manicures (what’s a girl not to love!).
We met with Sinnead as it is part of the purpose of this platform to elevate and support other women in business – particularly those who are aligned in the mission of opening up dialogues, shifting the narrative and shining light on topics that may previously have been seen as taboo. We’re already excited for her next women’s circle – see you there?!
Enjoy this In Conversation With: Sinnead Ali
Tell Us What You Do…
I am a yoga teacher, author, producer and women's circle facilitator. I also co-founded SPARK Fest, Asia’s first sexual wellness festival. I’m currently working full time on an Indiegogo campaign to promote my first book Moody Nails: The Mudra Guidebook which has been created to help women bring intention to their meditation practice and as a tool for self-care.
What ignited your passion for women’s health, education and wellbeing?
My mother is a very strong person and she has always championed girls and women being independent and going for their dreams, so that’s definitely sparked my own drive. From a young age dancing most days a week after school to studying performing arts at University, then teaching yoga I have always been in women dominated environments. I love to see women supporting and valuing one another. It’s my natural state of being.
I am passionate about creating spaces and tools dedicated to women finding their own answers and building their self esteem. Loving ourselves usually requires unlearning a lot things we’ve been told subliminally by the media etc and this takes practice.
What’s An Average “Day In The Life” Look Like For You?
I try to journal my dreams when I wake up or spend a few minutes in bed visualising how I want my day to go. Then I go to the gym because I can not sit at a computer first thing in the morning and actually be productive! Then early afternoon I usually work from my kitchen table in Bugis or from a cafe on East Coast park – emailing people about the book or researching, and I’m always listening to music while I work. I’m currently recording a podcast series with Some Scuffs about the book so we usually meet in the week to record. I try to get to a class in the evening or I can easily be working away until late at night as I have a later start to the day than most people. I take short meditation breaks throughout or message family back in the UK.
What Was Your Entry Into The Wellness + Passion Led entrepreneurial Life?
I was often getting injured while I was studying dance and I felt a disconnection with my body at times. If I was injured I’d be so frustrated at my limitations and having undiagnosed scoliosis (which now explains a lot!) caused so many issues for me. The entire right side of my body is so tight and in dance I was never really told to look at the bigger picture or why an injury has happened or show how to work with the way I’m built. I had an amazing dance teacher, who was an ex-ballerina, who decided to introduce us to yoga at University. I was instantly in love. Most of my other classmates found it weird and frustrating, they just wanted to create and move, but it felt very spiritual for me and made me love movement even more.
After leaving University life got really intense. Working insane hours and several jobs just to be in London on the off-chance that I’ll get an audition or find the time to create something. It was like chasing my tail and I was a shell of a person. So irritable, drinking loads and had no idea how burnt out I actually was. So many people I know, myself included have had mental health issues whether it’s developing bipolar disorder, or triggered anxiety, or depression due to life events or their lifestyle. Dance is an amazing way to express and sweat and run away from this kind of stuff, but for me it was never a way to look at it in the eye.
Yoga and meditation forces you in such a gentle way to sit with it all. You can choose what you are defined by and yoga was my ticket out of the madness within me, and in a literal sense that it allows me to travel and work, so I can live out of the rat race!
Why do you practice meditation/mindful movement?
Meditation really chills me out and creates space between all my bubbling thoughts. I’m a creative person so it’s difficult to switch off. I feel connected to God when I meditate and I receive answers to questions I didn’t even know I had. Yoga makes me feel strong and empowered and to me it is prayer in movement.
Where Do You Find Inspiration For Staying Motivated, Both In Work And Movement?
My sisters. I have five younger sisters and I want them to live in a better world. I’m not sure how I will help that happen but their faces spur me on to push through anything that’s difficult career wise, so I can be my version of successful and show that them compassion led work is an option.
What Are You Finding Yourself Passionately Drawn To At The Moment?
If I could hold women’s circles’ full time as my only role in life, I would. It’s an absolute privilege to be trusted with people being so vulnerable and supporting one another. Also periods! It drives me crazy that so many of us suffer for years in silence, thinking that pain is normal and that we have to push through and get on with our day as that messaging echoes throughout our entire lives. I am very vocal about menstrual visibility. A friend of mine always says that we are taught from a young age how to not get pregnant but nothing about how to get pregnant. We are not encourage to embrace our natural cycles and work with our bodies. Mens’ way of thinking, being and communicating is seen as the default and women as the ‘other’. I want to create tools to encourage women to embrace what makes them a women. I’m qualified to teach pre- and post- natal yoga and I’m just waiting for the right moment to put that to use more.
What Drives You To Share This Knowledge With Others?
As much as I love yoga and meditation, I understand that just getting to a class can be too much for some women. Especially if they are having health issues or are caring for someone that is young or sick. Often it is a confidence issue though and this really affects me. Yoga should empower people not make them feel ‘not enough’.
Moody Nails: the Mudra Guidebook has been created to help women bring intention to their meditation practice. I hope that it can serve the people who are missing out on the gifts of yoga or having a great meditation teacher and enhance the practice of those that do.
What Gives You A Sense Of Accomplishment Come Friday?
If I host a women's’ circle (it’s usually around the time of the full moon) that week I get so much amazing feedback for days after. I actually ‘do’ very little in these sessions but the women who come are usually so grateful and this proves to me that what I’m doing is needed and important. I know that I am moving toward my Dharma, so the sense of accomplishment is rarely based on the quantity of what I’ve done that week but how I’ve made others feel.
What Are Some Of Your Favourite Self-care Rituals?
I recently did a course in self-care with The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy so working what I’ve learnt into my day has been wonderful. I’ve seen the benefits in my digestion and PMS already. Also - I use coconut oil on everything and I love essential oils by Urban Kandy and smudging sage takes me to a really chilled state of mind.
What Are Your Favourite Spaces/Studios/Resources For: 1. Meditation 2. Yoga 3. Learning/Business Development?
Space2B is a great new studio in the CBD - I like their no thrills approach with the studio, they have a really full schedule and the teachers are great at starting dialogue in class. I usually find playlists on Spotify for chakra healing or nature sounds to meditate too at home.
I loved Dewi Chen’s Womb Yoga class at Exhale recently, I learn a lot from her and she make its fun and normal to talk about our bodies and cycles which is refreshing to see Singaporean teachers embrace.
I can’t pick just one thing but I listen to a lot of podcasts to keep my mind active on different subjects and I love to read!
What Is One Piece Of Advice You Wish To Pass On To Other Women/Younger Girls Looking Up To You And In This Line Of Work?
Avoid trying to emanate anyone else, find what it is you do well and can speak about naturally and you will find your people or they will find you. The moment I stopped trying to teach yoga in a way that wasn’t working for me, I was able to figure out what kind of teacher I actually wanted to be.