The Importance of Breathwork, Straight From an Expert

09.22.2021 — Ashley Tisdale-French

Let’s be honest—meditation and breathwork can be intimidating. But does it have to be? The simple answer is no, and having your own daily rituals welcome peace, comfort, productivity, and so much more. But if you’re unsure of where to start, you’re not alone. We spoke to breathwork expert, Ava Johanna, about lowering stress levels, rewiring your mind, and her super successful Breathwork Academy. Whoosah.

Can you share with our audience how you first got involved in the wellness space?

Like many other ambitious women in their early twenties, I was climbing my way up the corporate ladder at a marketing company in San Diego while completely disregarding my mental and physical health. I worked 12-hour days at times, barely getting up to eat or move around and my body was screaming at me. My eyesight started deteriorating after having 20/20 vision my whole life and I’d get migraines every other week like clockwork that would last up to three days. When I went to the doctor to try and fix these physical symptoms, I didn’t even think I was stressed out because stress was my baseline and I was just following along with everyone else in the hustle culture of Corporate America.

Luckily, I had a gut feeling that taking antidepressants for migraines (which my doctor suggested) was the wrong choice for actually figuring out what was going on versus putting a band-aid over it, so I requested natural alternatives like biofeedback (breathwork) and nutrition changes. At the same time, a friend introduced me to yoga and it felt like the first time I was coming home to my body and able to feel a sense of peace within my mind. It all snowballed quickly, because within six months I ended up signing up for my yoga teacher training and learning how to teach meditation and breathwork from there!

Did you feel that something was missing from the wellness industry? How do your practices and methods stand out?

When I first found the wellness and spiritual space it felt overwhelming to say the least. Everyone has an opinion and the way that works for them. I took a lot of what I read online or saw others doing as the ultimate truth and ended up inundating myself with supplements, lifestyle changes, routines and shifts that ended up giving me even more of a headache than being naive to wellness altogether. I remember seeing a quote on Pinterest that said “Start where you are, do what you can and use the tools that you have,” and that is still my favorite quote to this day. I’ve kept that in mind when formulating my meditation and breathwork course and certification because simple really is so much more sustainable and accessible to a majority of individuals. 

Can you take us through your spiritual practice?

It is deeply in tune with what is most present in me on a day to day basis. This took time to cultivate. To be able to trust that I know what I need in the moment and to trust that I don’t need to do the same thing every single day in order to feel joyous and fulfilled. I start my morning with meditation and breathwork and light reading (usually from spiritual texts like the Radiance Sutras) and try to get out in nature as often as possible to connect with God/Universe/Higher Power. I do my best to let myself be guided throughout my day, although it’s not perfect. Right now I’m working on reducing time spent on screens and social media because I find that it’s so much easier to connect to my practices and stay in alignment when I am spending time awake and in the moment versus asleep and on the ‘gram.

What does living in alignment mean to you?

It is the ability to listen to what your body, heart and inner knowing is speaking to you and to have the courage to trust where you are being called to move, feel, and act on a moment to moment basis. To me, it’s following what feels lightest in your body, even if that decision is scary or transports you into the unknown.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from implementing meditation to your daily routine?

That we are so loved and can access love at any given moment. Meditation has shown me that I am never alone, that I am so supported and that if I ever feel overwhelmed, not enough, sad, or anxious, I have a space I can come to be reminded that I am safe, that I am taken care of and that everything is unfolding as it should.

How can readers get started on meditating if they’re struggling to make it a part of their lives?

Start small with a few minutes a day and find a teacher that you resonate with that inspires you and embodies the feelings you wish to have in your life. It’s okay if you miss a day or if it’s challenging at first, it is for most of us and meditation doesn’t necessarily get easier with every sit, we just learn that the feelings come and go and the practice is a space to consciously release them. I also have a course called BREATHWORK where I teach you how to create a personal practice that is unique to your life and desires, so feel free to join that here!

Do you practice meditation daily? Share your routine with us on Instagram!

Ashley Tisdale-French
Ashley Tisdale is a mom, the founder of Frenshe, and an entertainer.