From the incessant Wi-Fi disruptions while trying to work remotely and the inescapable daily pull to doomscroll through bad news to needing to put up with chronic Zoom fatigue and the body dysmorphia issues the platform forces upon us, one abundantly clear truth about this pandemic year is that its given way to a complicated at best relationship with technology. Of course, technology presents a number of challenges (including but not limited to the aforementioned examples), but despite this, it also stands to help us facilitate connection—which is crucial during a time marked by increased loneliness and stress. And Yoni Circle, a social-wellness app, is leading the charge in transforming how we connect, even after the pandemic ends.
Founder and CEO Chloë Drimal started the Yoni Circle app to create a virtual space where women could use storytelling as a tool for healing, empowerment, and striking connection. The goal was to “create a social media platform that really heals and connects you to storytelling that leaves you feeling good after using it, less alone, and more connected to yourself,” Drimal says. The Yoni Circle app launched in April 2020, and its reach has since grown to connect folks in 1,000 cities in 83 countries.
Here’s how it works: Women can register for a Yoni Circle—a one-hour confidential conversation of up to six women led by a trained facilitator—through the app. When joining a circle, all of the registered participants wait a few minutes in a chat room and participate in a rose, bud, thorn icebreaker. The rose stands for the highlight of the day, the thorn is the challenge, and the bud is what you’re looking forward to. This chat room portion is a warm-up space to help participants get acquainted with one another before the video session starts.
After a few minutes, everyone is brought to a meeting room that’s conducive to providing an uplifting and empowering atmosphere. [Read, it is not and—more crucially—doesn’t feel like Zoom.] “If you resonate with what someone’s saying, there’s a snap icon. We do [virtual] snaps,” Drimal says. The facilitator asks everyone to introduce themselves to other participants and later guides the group into a meditation session.
When the storytelling portion begins, each person will have a few minutes to share their story centered on a main theme. In the Yoni Circle I joined, for example, the theme was insecurity. Participants are asked to structure their story with a beginning, middle, and end. After the storytelling portion, folks in the Yoni Circle share what they have learned or patterns they noticed among the stories. “The goal is to get you out of your headspace and into that heart space.” Drimal says.
“Yoni Circle has been so important for a lot of women’s mental health to get them out of their walls, meet new people, and allow themselves to be on a healing mental-health journey.” —Chloe Drimal, Yoni Circle founder and CEO
Another goal? To help you build connections, which is so crucial in this isolated pandemic landscape. “As you become more consistent in the community, you start to see familiar faces and [make] close acquaintances,” Drimal says. It’s her hope to continue to expand Yoni Circle’s geographic reach while also building out features of the app to make connecting and healing inclusive and accessible for all people. “We’ll continue to build out features that create easier access, [explore] how we as individuals can use storytelling as a healing and connection methodology, as well as tease out the core of the experience, which is the storytelling circles,” she says.
In the age of the pandemic where isolation has become so commonplace, the Yoni Circle app could not have launched at a better time and has become a space for people to foster connection and socialize safely. “A lot of women on our platform have lost their jobs and are stuck in homes,” Drimal says. “Yoni Circle has been so important for a lot of women’s mental health to get them out of their walls, meet new people, and allow themselves to be on a healing mental-health journey.” To be sure, tools that facilitate those gains will have value long after the pandemic is over as well.
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