I think we know what we should do but let resistance and old habits get in the way. Resistance shows up in excuses, distractions and unconsciously doing the opposite of what you know you should do. For example, if you want to start a new yoga routine, but you keep saying yes to go to happy hour with co-workers, you’re not only not practicing yoga, but you’re feeding your body the exact opposite of what it needs. The reality of it is, you’re the only person you’re going to let down by not integrating empowering information into your life, fitness routine, or diet. If you can recognize that you just need to break through the resistance that is preventing you from fully stepping into new behaviors, then you’re one step closer to integration. I’m the type of person that needs structure too so if you need structure then take the time to structure out your days.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ava Johanna. Ava is a celebrity meditation and yoga teacher, breathwork facilitator, and transformational mentor on a mission to bridge the gap for anyone craving more love, health, and happiness in their lives. After suffering from severe corporate burnout, Ava turned to yoga and holistic healing to redirect her life and found these powerful ancient practices to be the ultimate rejuvenation of spirit. Named “One of the Best Yoga Influencers to Follow in 2019” by Women Fitness and selected as one of Wanderlust’s “35 Under 35 in Wellness to Watch”, Ava’s mission is to share these wellness modalities and can be found teaching yoga, meditation, and breathwork around the globe and provoking conscious conversations on her top-rated podcast, The Alchemized Life. The Alchemized Life Podcast features top thought leaders in the wellness industry and lessons to inspire listeners to blossom into who they were always meant to become.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Ava! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
After leaving the corporate world four years ago due to high levels of chronic stress and migraines, I began to pursue my passion for wellness as I traveled the globe with my partner. My love of integrating wellness and movement in an easy and accessible way gave inspiration to my blog and now podcast, The Alchemized Life, which bridges the gap for anyone on their wellness journey to learn new tools and practices from wellness thought leaders and teachers. After teaching yoga, pranayama and meditation for several years, I created my signature concept, Tone To Transform, which combines yoga-inspired movement, cardio, meditation and breathwork into a fun and upbeat class.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Since starting my career, I’ve gotten into manifestation and the power of attracting through intention. I’ve manifested some crazy things like trips to Bali, teaching for top fitness brands, and celebrities taking my meditation classes. Each time I am more and more surprised by what we have the power to call in, and empowered by our ability to create a life we love filled with magic and tons of miracles!
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
When I first started teaching yoga, I would overthink everything like crazy. The moment I’d mess up in a class, I would apologize profusely (even though I’m sure I was the only one to notice). Since then, I’ve learned to not take teaching so seriously and to not apologize! Most people aren’t paying attention at the level we are so I’ve found it much more relaxed to go with the flow.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
My goal with my work is to make it approachable, accessible, and practical. I love spirituality, wellness and fitness but I think there can be a big barrier to entry through intimidation, feeling like you need to look a certain way or be a pro (especially in Los Angeles), so in my classes I break things down and make sure it’s accessible to all.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I started working with my mentor, Caley Alyssa, two years ago and her support and guidance helped me to massively progress in this space. She wasn’t a mentor at the time, but I saw myself in her so I asked her if she would be willing to take me under her wing. Her support helped me to understand my value, my unique contribution and so much more. Now, I am incredibly grateful for the team of women I work with on my podcast, The Alchemized Life. They are the keys to the car and without their support, the podcast wouldn’t be where it is today!
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
Great question. I think we know what we should do but let resistance and old habits get in the way. Resistance shows up in excuses, distractions and unconsciously doing the opposite of what you know you should do. For example, if you want to start a new yoga routine, but you keep saying yes to go to happy hour with co-workers, you’re not only not practicing yoga, but you’re feeding your body the exact opposite of what it needs.
The reality of it is, you’re the only person you’re going to let down by not integrating empowering information into your life, fitness routine, or diet. If you can recognize that you just need to break through the resistance that is preventing you from fully stepping into new behaviors, then you’re one step closer to integration. I’m the type of person that needs structure too so if you need structure then take the time to structure out your days.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
- Meditation. Taking as little as 10 minutes a day to meditate will provide the body with the rest it needs to recover from physical, emotional, and mental stress. Meditation is 5x more effective than hitting the snooze button when it comes to energy levels so prioritizing it as the first thing you do in the morning is key. I remember after the first month of meditating my husband told me he could see a tangible improvement in my emotional state, my stress levels, and my general happiness. It was then that I realized how powerful the practice was and haven’t given it up since.
- Drink a cup of water before anything else. Coffee is dehydrating so I don’t put anything else in my stomach until after I’ve had at least 16oz of water in the morning. We all know how important water is to drink throughout the day and most Americans are dehydrated. Drinking enough water daily improves digestion, overall skin texture, appetite and energy levels.
- Time block your day. Time blocking your day helps you avoid multitasking and instead hone in on a single task. Multitasking sends our brain into fight or flight because we are in a constant state of alert so not only will you be more productive, but you’ll be less stressed. I love to take Sunday night to plan out at least 48–72 hours ahead and schedule out everything from walking my dog to exercising and answering emails. It helps me get things done quicker, stay on task, and stay off of social media!
- No technology one hour before bed. Move the television out of the bedroom and spend your last hour before sleep tech-free. The blue light on your phone tricks the brain into staying awake and active instead of releasing melatonin and switching gears to rest. If you know what time you want to get to sleep, setting an alarm or reminder on your phone an hour before you go to sleep is a great way to shut down from the electronics and start to get ready for bed. I keep a book and journal on my bedside table for my last minute activities and any thoughts that come up that I would usually put in my phone.
- Incorporate breathwork. Use equal-ratio breathwork to balance the nervous system, improve your immune system, and enhance digestion. By breathing equally for a count of 6 on the inhale and exhale, the autonomic nervous system will shift out of fight or flight into rest and digest. Our breath is a direct response of our emotional state so when we start to shift the breath to breath in deeper and longer, we start to balance our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system AKA fight or flight and rest + digest.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
Daily exercise improves our mood through the release of feel good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine and daily exercise also requires mindfulness and presence so it disconnects us from mental time travel, stress, worry and anxiety. Daily exercise also increases our confidence through the development of empowering habits that make you feel strong and connected to your body.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
Each person is going to be different and there isn’t a one size fits all approach to fitness. For example, core work may be great for someone that is looking to tone their midline, but is actually unsafe for a woman who has just had a c-section. For anyone that is just starting to add exercise into their routine, a good rule of thumb would be light movement like walking or jogging, gentle stretches like restorative yoga, and one other targeted exercise based on their fitness goals.
In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?
I love beam CBD and use it daily to help with recovery as it is formulated specifically for athletes. In addition to using CBD, making sure to stretch before and after you workout is incredibly important and a major inspiration for my class Tone to Transform. Many people avoid stretching altogether and risk not only feeling sore the next day, but a more serious injury. Adding even 5 minutes before and after the workout can help support your recovery process.
There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?
I don’t follow any specific diet. I eat intuitively and don’t limit myself to following one school of thought. As a fitness instructor with limited knowledge of nutrition, I also avoid giving recommendations of diets for clients.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
Gabby Bernstein’s The Universe Has Your Back found me after I moved back to North America from South America and it exposed me to spirituality and mindfulness in a way I had never experienced. It is a must-read for anyone interested in manifestation, spirituality and creating a life you love.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I like to think that my podcast, The Alchemized Life, has started a movement of alchemists that are inspired and excited by wellness, spirituality and personal development. My goal with the podcast and all of my work is to make these tools accessible to the masses. If one person listens to the podcast and shares it with another, I am confident we’ll be spreading a message of empowerment to people across the globe.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
Too often we wait for the perfect moment, but the reality is there isn’t a perfect moment. You just need to go do whatever it is that you feel called to do and adjust along the way. Your version of perfect is different from everyone else’s so you might as well just leap instead of being held back by fear of judgment.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Gabby Bernstein — hands down. She is my greatest role model and is spreading so much light in this world. It would be an honor to have breakfast in the countryside of NY with her!
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
You can find me on Instagram @avajohanna and @thealchemizedlife and my website is avajohanna.com.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!