Sacred Warrior evolved out of founder, Vanessa Chakour’s 15+ year journey of healing through visual art, athletic training, competitive fighting and meditation, and is fused with her work as an herbalist, activist, trainer and teacher. After a series of physical issues at a young age, including chronic asthma and a car accident in which she fractured her back and neck, Vanessa found healing and release of internal limitations through creative expression, athletic training, and meditation. While slowly rehabilitating herself after the accident, she became fascinated by what held her back physically. Generally it was a belief or story to examine and uproot and move beyond. Visual art and writing were instrumental in her process of revealing the source of perceived limitations. The more she reached within through the creative process, the more she was able to uncover sources of internal doubt and shed limiting stories to strengthen and embrace her body. She continued pushing boundaries to become a personal trainer and eventually train as both an amateur and professional boxer, continuing these combined methods to increase awareness and performance.
A personal trainer since 1998, Vanessa has studied various approaches to therapeutic movement from martial arts to yogic practices. She began a disciplined meditation practice in 2000 while she was training as a professional boxer in Brooklyn, NY. She began with a study of Zen meditation, and moved on to study other traditions and methods such as Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism and Plant Spirit Meditation. She continues to explore integrated methods, using training and sports as an extension of mindfulness practice. She approaches boxing as an internal and external martial art, using it as a vehicle to cultivate self-awareness. She is a retreat leader and sustainability advisor for the True Athlete Project and recently presented at the Muhammad Ali Sports and Social Justice Forum on Sports, Self-Awareness and Sustainability.
An avid environmentalist, Vanessa’s exploration led her to study herbal medicine and pursue a sustainable lifestyle. She is passionate about helping to deepen people’s relationships to their own bodies and the body of the earth. Many of her workshops inspire a connection to the wild—inside and out—and the multitude of healing plants in urban areas. She has studied and taught with renowned Herbalists such as Robin Rose Bennett and Matthew Wood and has partnered with Hidden Garden Wellness center in Costa Rica where she teaches, runs retreats and studies the local indigenous, latin and afro-caribbean medicines. She has developed partnerships with Wolf Conservation Center in So Salem NY, See Turtles, and other wildlife organizations with whom she offers Sacred Warrior workshops and Rewilding retreats. Through these healing experiences, participants learn first hand about the vital role each animal plays in ensuring a healthy, vital ecosystem. Her work as an activist also led her to create events & initiaves on behalf of luminaries such as His Holiness, The Dalai Lama and Hip Hop Legend, KRS One. She often consults companies that are seeking a more sustainable, earth centered approach.
Vanessa’s explorative artwork continues to be a daily practice and has been featured in prominent private collections, art publications and public exhibitions. She shares her methods of creative exploration in many of her workshops and retreats. As an inspirational speaker, she has spoken at Northeastern University, The Muhammad Ali Center, Brown University and The United Nations.
These components of Vanessa’s own journey of self development—healing internally, while deepening connection to nature— have laid the foundation and vision for Sacred Warrior.
For more, read an interview with Vanessa HERE