As March begins to wind down and temps begin to rise (spring is finally here!), Lively is undergoing a bit of a metamorphosis. Along with our new home on vitalproteins.com, we'll also be introducing a new Guest Editor to close out each month with his or her musings on wellness, beauty, lifestyle, and beyond. First up: Ava Johanna, whose dedication to meditation, breath work, and yoga is truly aspirational.
Get to know our March Guest Editor in a candid Q&A below and keep an eye out for Johanna’s two blog posts, which are slated to roll out on Lively later this week.
Lively: What inspired you to pursue yoga?
Ava Johanna: I call myself a "corporate drop-out." I was chronically stressed and suffered from migraines while I worked my marketing job in my early 20s. I had no form of stress management and was desperate to make a change in my life. I found yoga by chance and it forever changed my life. I went in thinking I'd get a decent workout and a toned bum but left the studio feeling emotionally lighter, more connected to my soul, and incredibly joyful. I knew within the first few months of practicing that my purpose was to make others feel the same way I felt from yoga. So, I enrolled in teacher training, quit my corporate job, and became a yoga teacher. Immediately after quitting my corporate job, the migraines went away and the stress subsided.
L: Obviously, meditation is a big part of your personal and professional life. How has it left an impact for you?
AJ: Meditation is a tool for anyone because there are so many forms of it like seated meditation or even moving meditation. For me, meditation was most helpful for reducing my stress levels and shifting me into a state of responding rather than reacting. I find that people that feel very disconnected from themselves and in a cyclical routine that isn't serving them can benefit from the practice of meditation because it wakes you up to the potential of feeling levels of joy like you've never experienced.
L: Do you have any tips for someone who is starting out with meditation?
AJ: Just start and make it a daily habit. You may feel like it is a chore at first — I know I did — but after a few weeks of consistent practice, you can mentally, physically, and emotionally feel the shift. People around you will notice, and you'll begin to embody the things that meditation enthusiasts preach about like presence, calmness, and trust. Your meditation can be whatever length you want it to be, but I usually recommend a minimum of 10 minutes where you are focusing on the breath. If you have thoughts, that does not mean you are doing it wrong, it is the body releasing the stress associated with those thoughts. Just keep coming back to your inhales and exhales.
L: What is currently inspiring you?
AJ: I've been massively inspired by all the guests that have come on my podcast, The Alchemized Life, to share their stories and wisdom with the world. Each conversation is an opportunity for me to learn, grow, and connect with another person that has dedicated their life to a body of knowledge and I feel so incredibly grateful for the experience.
L: Is there a mantra you live by?
AJ: When you show up for yourself, the Universe shows up for you!
L: We love how honest you were when you opened up about your struggles with imposter syndrome. What did you take away from that experience?
AJ: Imposter syndrome is such a killer of creativity and stepping forward into the world to answer our purpose or "calling." I used to struggle — and still do at times — with the thought: Who am I to do this? which left me often avoiding taking steps in my career and pursuing the things I was passionate about. I had to really get honest with myself about the doubt and lack of confidence and where it stemmed from in my childhood. The imposter syndrome for me was the mean girl in my head and I wanted it to stop so I meditated, journaled, and used mantras to start to rewrite the limiting beliefs that were fueling the imposter syndrome. We all have different variations of imposter syndrome — sometimes it's subtle and sometimes it's really loud. You just have to remind yourself that everyone starts somewhere and there is always going to be someone there that is looking for the information, the art, or the work that you are putting out into the world.
L: What makes you the most excited about being Lively's March Guest Editor?
AJ: My favorite thing about the wellness community is the inclusivity and connection that can be gained by sharing our stories and the things we are passionate about. The Lively blog is a space where we can all come together to learn from each other and be inspired by the collective push to live a more mindful and health-driven life and it is an honor to contribute to that collective knowledge!
L: And lastly, we have to ask: What is your favorite Vital Proteins product?
AJ: This is such a hard question because I love Vital Proteins SO much. I think the Coconut Collagen Creamer though. I bring it with me everywhere, on all my travels, and the ritual of making my coffee every morning with it is my favorite part of the day.