Vanessa is an internationally trained massage and bodyworker, writer, and healing arts educator from Philadelphia, PA. Over the past eleven years, Vanessa has studied in a variety of areas in the wellness industry including Yoga for Trauma and Addiction with the Transformation Yoga Project, Traditional Thai Massage at International Training Massage School (ITM) and Chi Nei Tsang with Thanachai Chaimongkhon in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Vanessa has been practicing therapeutic massage, mentoring new bodyworkers, serving as an advisory board member at local massage schools, and instructing workshops and certification courses at retreats, festivals, spas, and wellness centers. She has been featured on Newsworks.org and 900am WURD for combining healing arts with activism while raising funds for sustainable projects in Haiti with Off the Mat, Into the World.
Vanessa is also a single mom living with bipolar disorder and PTSD. Though she has found her inpatient and outpatient treatment and resources helpful, she noticed that there were limited books, memoirs, and biographies from Blacks living with mental illness. Because of this, she and Iresha Picot, mental health clinician, spent a year and a half gathering 20+ essays, poems, and interviews from Blacks, Asians, and Latinos living with or affected by a loved one with mental illness. In October 2015, they released The Color of Hope: People of Color Mental Health Narratives. Their project aims to bring “the story behind the statistics” of people whose voices are rarely heard due to shame and stigma.
Currently, Vanessa is using her healing arts background to meet the needs of trauma survivors and those living with mental illness. Her goal, by developing/facilitating trauma-informed yoga and massage classes, is to provide the space and tools necessary for participants to develop mindfulness, discipline and strength from the inside out.
Recent Literary Work
- The Color of Hope: People of Color Mental Health Narratives (co-editor)
- Nirvanaland Essentials Guide to Crafting Community: A Natural Body Product Making Book
- Affirmative consent arrives at the yoga studio. Interview with Samantha Melamed. Philadelphia Inquirer, June 2016
- Taming the Feral Mind: Yoga Lessons from a Mental Hospital, Blavity, March 2016, and reposted in Adios Barbie, July 2016
- A Complicated Normal: Riding the Wave of Mental Illness, For Harriet, October 2015
- On the Emptiness of Seeking Validation, Soar, July 2014