Adriana Ayales is a rainforest herbalist from Costa Rica and the founder of herbal apothecary Anima Mundi. We are in love with Adriana’s world and creations, and so excited to share this interview.
— Is routine important to you or do you like things to be more open and free?
Although I love the grounded power of routine, I’m living in a phase of being open and free. With kids, and a beyond full time devotion to running a business, I just ride the waves as they come. I’ve learned to surrender that not everything has to look the way it should look. Life’s situations and patterning moves around like the seasons.
— What do your mornings look like? If they differ from day to day, describe your ideal morning.
I love getting up before the kids, and sneaking into the kitchen to make myself a healing cup(s) of medicine. First thing I do is a big ole’ cup of vitamin C rich goodness, sometimes its mangosteen hibiscus with a lemon squeeze, or fresh picked turmeric from the garden grated with ginger, along with camu camu and lemon water. Then I make a seasonal fruit bowl of sorts, with oatmeal, or homemade granola loaded with mineralizing herbs (like nettle or mesquite powder). Followed by my favorite, and not so healthy friend, Coffee. Ah coffee. I can’t tell you how wonderful locally grown heirloom coffee is here, paired with deliciously fresh cacao and medicinal mushrooms and homemade almond.
— Do you have any bedtime rituals that help you sleep well?
Massaging the face, forehead and skull with warm oil at night is one of the simplest and most restorative practices we can do to induce deep sleep. I love using a mix I make at home of jojoba oil, with rosehip, infused with clary sage and a fine sandalwood. Another one of my all time favorites for evening relaxation is blue lotus.
— Do you have any kind of mindfulness practice?
Sipping tea mindfully in nature, witnessing time in silence is one of my favorite things. I tap into my feelings, breath, mind, and begin to clear energy.
— Do you do caffeine and in what form? If not, what is your drink of choice in the morning?
I do love caffeine. Growing up in Costa Rica has woven me into loving a good cup of locally roasted coffee. Depending on the day, I love adding reishi, or a mix of medicinal mushrooms, raw cacao with mucuna, along with a homemade plant based milk. I also love having an aged puerh, or traditional matcha with added herbs for nourishment, like moringa.
— Do you have a sweet tooth and do you take any measures to keep it in check?
Sometimes I do, especially when I’m tired or running on low energy. When i’m over-worked, or running on stress I definitely crave more carby and sugary things, and this is usually due to skipping a meal, or needing a quick-fix.
Some tips I bare in mind during stressful moments that ignite the sweet tooth (or just in general!) are: always go for fruits before you opt for a sugary dessert, always choose low glycemic sweeteners vs. sugar (some faves are coconut sugar, maple syrup, and real stevia extract — not the synthetic ones!) For carbs avoid empty carbs and refined flours, and opt for ones that are more easily absorbed, like coconut, almond and cassava flour.
— Are there any particular supplements, herbs, or tinctures/tonics that you take regularly and find to be helpful with your energy level and general wellness?
Oh my, so many! I seasonally change my herbal intake, but certainly stick with some favorites. I love having my potent “singles” (single herb tinctures) on me at all times, like shisandra berries and blue lotus. A Brain tonic while I’m working, usually with herbs like gotu kola, ginkgo, brahmi and lion’s mane mushroom. Two that I dose with very often are the Happiness tonic (st johns wort, mucuna, ashwagandha, etc.) and euphoric/mood elevating herbs like catuaba, mucunam muira puama and damiana. I also love our Liver formula for daily cleansing and nourishment, like the moringa, burdock, nettles, chlorella. And of course beauty herbs like He Shou Wu, Mangosteen and more!
— Do you exercise and do you have a particular exercise routine that you repeat weekly?
Absolutely, I love doing a mix between yoga and pilates.
— Do you find exercise to be pleasurable, torturous or perhaps a little of both? How do you put yourself in the right mindset in order to keep up with it?
I love the torture! When I feel a little lazy and not like suffering in an intensive workout, I just remind myself how excellent I feel when I finish it. Not just seeing physical results, but especially the mental peace and happiness after working out.
— What is your idea of beauty – external, internal or both?
A feeling of wholeness. When your mood is high, your gut is vibrant, and you feel confident and beautiful. When there is no sense of lack, imbalance or deficiency. When you feel aligned.
— What is your skincare approach – face and body?
I love making my own body and face oils. I usually infuse collagen boosting herbs, and skin strengthening herbs and lather up. I also like to keep things simple, like using cacao butter with coconut oil, or just a fluffy shea butter for deep moisture.
— Are there any foods, herbs or supplements you find to be helpful to your skin/hair/general glow?
Yes! I’m a big fan of eating herbs and supplements that protect the skin, increase our own collagen receptors and help activate our natural glow. The herbs I designed for the vegan collagen formula have been my go-to’s for quite sometime. Horsetail, He Shou Wu, Calendula, Nettle seed + leaf, Comfrey, and others like Mangosteen, Camu Camu and Hibiscus are great for the skin too.
— Do you have any beauty tips/tricks you’ve found to be especially useful throughout the years?
I love making edible masks. Infusing a high potency extract into a raw clay and avocado, along with an activating source like apple cider vinegar, or more protein like flax, and making a smooth paste to lather all over the face, body and even hair is one of my all time favorites.
— Do you practice any consistent routines in order to avoid stress?
Visualization is huge for me. Sitting in silence and tuning in is vital, along with the help of nervines and adaptogenic herbs that assist in de-compression like skullcap, blue lotus and ashwagandha.
— If stress cannot be avoided, what are your ways of dealing with it?
I like taking a walk or hike in nature, get in the ocean/lake/river or any kind of body of water. I completely unplug from work, the phone, or computer.
— What measures do you take when you sense a cold/general feeling of being under the weather coming on?
Before the cold kicks in, I take strong echinacea extracts in a soothing tea, mixing turmeric, lemon, grated ginger, apple cider vinegar, garlic and aloe in warm water. It works every time. I make a large batch and dose all day long — even my kids love it!
— How do you reconcile work-time with free-time? Do those things overlap for you or do you keep them distinctly separate?
This certainly overlaps for me, which can honestly be a bitter sweet reality. I love everything surrounding plants, and its medicinal uses, as well as teaching, and medicine making. I love that my business is all about honoring ancestral ways, plant medicine, the art of herbalism, righteous cultivation, and medicine making. Yet, like any business owner would understand, there are many tasks to the job that are exhausting and certainly not what made you fall in love in the first place. For me personally, I’ve learned to reconcile by doing what I love doing the most, medicine making and wildcrafting. I made a commitment to myself in making space for this no matter what, and not disregarding it by prioritizing business with the things that don’t really matter in life. It’s vital that we take moments in our free time that refine our focus and intention in life, re-align to what inspired the dream, without getting side swept with “busy-ness”.
— Describe the actions you take or mindset you try to tap into in order to stay on track with your self-care practice and being nice to yourself?
Over the last couple years I’ve struggled with this because of having babies. Which I’m sure a lot of new moms can relate to this! Every time I get a moment between being a mother, wife and business owner, my priority to feel more self loving (and more human!) is yoga. The simple act of getting oxygen, doing conscious breathing, and distracting the monkey mind from its patterning, you become yourself again.
— What do you consider to be the single most important change you’ve made to your routine or lifestyle in terms of wellness?
Herbs. Integrating plant medicine into everything has significantly changed my body mind and soul.
— A book/movie/class that influenced your view of self-nourishment or self-care.
Off the top of my head I love these: Healing with Whole Foods with Paul Pitchford, Gabriel Cousens’ Spiritual Nutrition, The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates, and of course The Medical Medium by Anthony William.
— What was your path to becoming an herbalist and starting Anima Mundi?
Growing up I learned closely with curanderos on plant medicine and rainforest herbalism overall. I then attended herbal schools in California where I learned a lot of native, northern and european herbalism. Life somehow took me to NYC (a place I NEVER thought I would ever go to) after living in California for quite some years, and I started practicing privately as an herbalist. I kept noticing the common trends, symptomology and imbalances folks that came in had, and started developing “mother formulas” to be able to make large batches.
— How do you approach sourcing herbs for Anima Mundi?
First and foremost we try to create a direct relationship with the people/farmers that cultivate. Although we value certification of prime ingredients, there are many ethical wild crafters and farms that do not have special certifications, yet cultivate sustainable practices and have quality products that we also like to support. We are also adamant of supporting local economies as much as possible, particularly with rainforest herbs sourced directly from indigenous people, supporting their craft as well as ethically crafted botanicals.
— What are some of Anima Mundi’s best sellers?
Fun and Inspiration
— A book/song/movie/piece of art to feed the soul:
Photos by Renee Byrd and from Anima Mundi’s IG / This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.