Avni Trivedi is an osteopath, doula, zero balancer (a fascinating practice that integrates western knowledge of our body with oriental insights into energy and how we can heal ourselves) and a curious, creative podcaster. At the heart of all she does is a deep belief in the power of touch to connect, heal and transform. We loved the time we stole with her over a remote coffee. And we hope you enjoy the read.
With love, the MPowder Team.
First, tell us a little bit about ‘Speak from the body’ and Avni Touch. What motivated you to start your business - and your podcast?
I grew up in an extended family. There were a lot of touch-based practices. Oil on our heads, hair and scalp;
'Tending to each other - through touch -- combing my grandmother’s hair - was how I grew up. And, as an introvert, touch has always been my way to connect with myself and to others.'
Osteopathy is a long training process. And everyone who trains tends to have come through a specific challenge. As I emerged from my training and looked at the lives of osteopaths around me, it was difficult to see myself in their set up. There wasn’t a model out there to fit me. So, starting out, self employed, as a natural step. I think it's part of my character to work when I want to, to my own rhythms.
My work is so much more than sorting out aches and pains. I am working hands-on. You have to be able to build trust instantly. In a few minutes. It is all about that trust and understanding how people ‘tick’.
And then, my podcast came about simply because I love information and I love learning. The format gives you so much freedom. You get to talk about what you want to:
'After years of running my Practice - of holding space and listening, I hadn’t realised I had so much to say!'
I am naturally introverted, so having a conversation that takes place in your ear is natural to me. I like to communicate this way.
The series focuses on the importance of the body. It is an alternative to the didactic view of healthcare that prevails in society. Here I can explore health holistically. I can address taboos. Alot of my work focuses on grief and loss. It is liberating to have that level of freedom. I am also conscious that there are so few women running podcasts. And even fewer older women and women of colour.
We know from our conversation that in your practice you see many women entering peri/menopause. In your experience, what are the most typical struggles they arrive at your door facing? What do they hope to gain from you?
One of my interests in working with women’s health, was because women weren’t being truly seen and heard;
'Cyclical health is always ‘managed’ in the health system. Rather than seeing it as something personal, it is shoehorned into days and a statistical ‘norm’.'
Women’s health osteopathy has more of a gynaecological approach. If my clients have had a prolapse or issues with healing (from tears or episiotomies or surgery), that can be treated too. It becomes really easy to use the whole picture of the person. Addressing tiredness, or maybe anxiety, comes into treating someone alongside the symptoms they think they’re being treated for.
'Women are working and living in a patriarchal world - the uniqueness of women is not being paid attention to.'
During their menopause, women commonly come to me for general wellness. They may have sleep issues - or be experiencing extreme tiredness. And with symptoms like these, there is so much to unpack. Is it hormones? Could it be a vitamin deficiency? Symptoms might seem vague or random, but when you listen deeply you can start to piece things together.
I’ve added to my own training so much because I felt I didn’t have the answers. Part of my toolkit is now Family Constellation work. This came about as a result of my own experience. An osteopath working with me said she felt I was carrying something that wasn’t mine to carry. She was working with Family Constellations, and I was really interested in learning more. Talking therapy is not always enough. Family Constellations is so body-led - there is magic to it;
'As women we are the connectors, so much of our wellbeing is linked to what is around us and what has gone before.'
I think, when we look at our lives at menopause, what is so often missing is the sense of an elder. In the mainstream media, we all have to be 30 years old. With Family Constellations, there is an opportunity to overcome that sense of being ‘stuck’ - to put everything in its rightful place; whether it is about recognising a loss or coming to terms with a previous partner that impacted your life. Everything has a place.
When I work with clients who are in menopause, I am influenced by the work of Dr Christiane Northrup and her view of this life stage as one of creativity - a move towards a legacy, a new business idea - if you pay attention to this power surge, you can align your mental and physical health.
How has your relationship to your body and your cycles influenced your outlook towards work and life?
I’ve been living my life more cyclically for quite a few years now. I am so much more tuned in when I don’t resist my cycle. When I listen and feel deeply, I have a much better sense of how much rest or space I need. I have a sense of pleasure when I tend to my body, when I look after myself. For too long I was conditioned by this expectation of ‘productivity’ - of rushing through. Now, if it doesn’t feel good, I ask myself why I do it?
How do you define success for your business and yourself individually?
Success for me is internal. It’s not the outward trophies. There have been periods in my life without free time. That crushing sense of a deadline or an exam. I want to live with more of a sense of space. On a Thursday I walk between two clinics. I have time for lunch, a nap and have a restful start to the afternoon. That feels like success for me. It sounds daft - but sometimes I will go on the swing if it is quiet. I get to walk through the rose garden.
Has your definition of success changed over time as an entrepreneur and individual?
Yes - today I live by my own definition. Being so curious, at times, I spent a lot of my time feeling like an imposter - and then feeling like I needed to tick certain boxes to ‘qualify’. Now I can appreciate my curiosity. I can see it as creativity.
What correlation, if any, do you see between age and ambition?
I think age has brought a deepened sense of self. And that means I am less willing to lose something just to ‘have’ something. Yes, there are a whole bunch of women who have podcasts at 30 and a book by 31. But there are other women out there who don’t write and publish until they are 50. External pressure is unhelpful and unnecessary.
What do you wish your younger self had known about:
Life: Things happen in their own time so do your part and then trust. If things don’t work out, let go as it wasn’t meant for you and something else is waiting for you when the time is right.
Love: Love is nothing like the dreamy Hollywood movies. It’s in the simple things and the challenging times when you realise that someone has your back. And that you have to open your heart to receive love, even if it feels vulnerable.
Health: Above all, explore your own perspective of health by listening to yourself. Any plan or regime has to be tailored to your needs, and your needs are changeable. Health is a vast topic and includes your creative self, your relationships, finances and connection to something greater. As the saying goes, “you do you”.
Work: Allow your imagination to run loose so that you can discover what your work and purpose is. You don’t have to fit in to an existing idea of work. You can create your own path, role and way of working.
What would be your key advice to women transitioning through menopause today?
So often with a woman’s health, it happens in the background whilst she struggles with everything else. Women need to put themselves at the centre of their lives. They need to give themselves permission to let go of some responsibilities. It is ok to ask your family to step up and share the load. Give yourself more freedom to do what you want to do. This can really impact on symptoms;
'At what stage of your life are you going to allow yourself to do and be what you want? The body is always listening and it is going to be grumbling if we don’t listen to what we need.'
I often use an analogy around gear shifts. If you live in fourth or fifth gear, there isn’t the gradation to do everything. So, try to do a few things in first or second gear. When you live in a more cyclical way, you find there are some things you can do fast and others can be slow - easy and breezy! Many women I see don't have enough gears. You can’t function at full throttle all the time.
My other advice would be to move everyday, in some form. We are physical beings. Sitting at a desk is not helpful. Try and bring enjoyment into how you move too. Oxytocin levels impact stress and other hormones. Make time to dance, sit on a swing, stomp, run and walk.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the MPowder community about our second spring?
We learn so much from each other's stories. And it is entirely natural to hold on to the most traumatic ones we hear. In midlife, listen to all the voices - absorb all the stories. The struggles and the liberation. In womanhood, there is space for every one and for each individual experience.
And, finally - as we emerge into a new world, what counsel are you giving to your clients about managing their health right now?
Emerge slowly so that the nervous system adapts more smoothly. Fear and anxiety are rife right now. I’m encouraging clients to have a few manageable ways to take care of themselves: body, mind and soul. The little things are the big things - such as drinking water, chewing your food, limiting watching the news, having moments to stop and just be. And make space for laughter, dancing, being creative and nature to lift your spirits, as there’s a lot of heaviness in the world right now.