Hey everyone, here is a unique interview with someone outside of the strength training & muscle gaining realm. Her name is Ava Pendl, a yoga instructor from the SoCal area. We share one common mission: learning and sharing how to live a healthy life. She has some truly wise insights on ways to pursue self-happiness, healthy living and more. I hope you all enjoy the interview!
JP: Tell us about yourself. Background info, schools attended, jobs worked, and anything else you would like people to know.
I definitely didn’t take the traditional route of “go to school, get a job, etc.” as my family wasn’t incredibly affluent while I was a teen. I actually went straight from high school to working full time at a restaurant and modeling. It was through modeling that I met the owner of a clothing company that hired me on to manage their social media and marketing. This catapulted me into the 9-to-5 world without a degree or any marketing experience and it was like 0-60 with the career.
By 22, I was making more than all of my friends in school or just graduating with Masters Degrees, but I was also pretty miserable working long hours and building businesses for other people. I decidedto start looking into my wellness and practicing yoga. I loved it so much I decided to do my 200-hr teacher training and it was at that time that I was encouraged to start journaling about my experience.
Having my background in marketing I saw a greater opportunity than just a journal so I started Kicking Asana. It’s been almost a 1 1/2 years and it’s the thing that makes me happiest. I’ve met and worked with so many cool people that share my same values and I just appreciate that I was able to have this progression without taking the normal steps people would expect.
JP: I am assuming yoga is your main form of exercise. What attracted you to yoga?
I tried weight training with my old roommate for awhile, but there’s something too ego-ic about going to the gym – it always made me so self conscious. I honestly didn’t care much about yoga either until I found my studio and teacher that really showed me what yoga is – past the physical exercise. Teachers truly are there to guide you on a holistic path of wellness and mindfulness and I am a firm believer in finding a teacher or studio that resonates with you – otherwise, it’s just another exercise.
JP: Kind of a more serious topic. I read in your “about” section that you used to binge party a lot, which aided in an unhealthy lifestyle. I have come across this in my college experience, and still know people who live this lifestyle. What are some things, other than yoga, that helped get you away from this lifestyle? What would you suggest to someone who can’t get out of this dangerous lifestyle?
I think this is really important to bring up actually and many people don’t because it’s not “cool” for wellness professionals to have had a past. The biggest wake up call was when I got a DUI at 19 years old. This was the start of changing patterns and habits, but I also developed really serious migraines that I suffered from for over 6 years. When your body is screaming at you, you can either ignore it and allow the pain to get worse or make a change. I still drink and go out with my friends, but it’s just not at the caliber it once was.
It’s really easy to get sucked into this lifestyle and I think everyone has their own path of “sobriety.” For me, it was experiencing a Saturday morning without a hangover, having the whole weekend to get outside and not be miserable in bed. My priorities just shifted and I think overtime that happens with everyone – or those that are meant to live a life with moderate partying.
JP: I have had a little experience with yoga (being forced to do it back when I played baseball). For anyone thinking about starting yoga, or just looking to get more information about it, what would you tell them? Where would you suggest they start?
Ask a friend that practices to take you with them to a beginner class or watch a video on Youtube. I am just now getting into a home practice, so I think it really depends on how you like to be taught. Some people worry about what they might look like in a studio and in that case I’d say start at home, but others – like me – are lazier at home, haha. It’s hard for me to stay committed when I’m not actually in a class.
Also just start where you are and do what you can. If you can lay in bed and follow your breath, you’re practicing yoga. Yoga is so much more than just asana (the physical poses) – it’s meditating, treating people well, breathing, etc. You’d be surprised how capable you are of doing those other things!
JP: Who is the most influential person in your life?
That’s a great question and it shifts ALL THE TIME. Valeria Hinojosa (@WaterThruSkin) is a good friend of mine and such a role model to me. There’s a ton of people in LA that inspire me and motivate me to do more and be more. I think social media is fucking fantastic because we are finally able to honor and appreciate “normal” people instead of the Kardashians or some other celebrity.
JP: What is one book you are currently reading that all of your readers and mine should check out?
Killing it with the questions. A book that really resonated with me and I think is excellent for wellness junkies, entrepreneurs and really anyone looking to shift their life, is The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani.
JP: I really liked your blog. There really is a good amount of content that everyone can relate to. Was this your intention when you created your blog?
Absolutely. I want it to be digestible for anyone, but I also niche down a bit on making sure that the pieces that come out are strictly personal development or wellness related. You’d never see me put a makeup routine up there, because that’s just not my thing and never will be.
JP: What is your remedy for getting through a case of the “Monday’s” (everyone’s least favorite day of the week!)
Haha, well I work from home so I haven’t had a case of the Monday’s in about a year. BUT, when I did work at an office, I used Monday’s as my day of silence. I didn’t schedule any calls and I’d pick a bomb playlist, get a big cup of coffee or tea and just keep to myself to get as much work done as possible. Usually on Monday, we’re pretty socialized from the weekend, so having some “me-time” even at work, can help to boost up those energy levels.
JP: A lot of people ask me “How did you start blogging?” or “why do you blog?” So, for anyone who has a good idea but is too nervous to put themselves out on the internet, what would your advice be for them?
JUST START. If you are nervous about what someone will think, know that they really don’t give a damn about what you’re doing. Everyone is so wrapped up in their own shit, they aren’t here to criticize you and in fact, if you are good at what you do, they’ll become your fan. There is a niche and a supporter for EVERYTHING – just get started, know that we’re all just faces behind a screen, and stay consistent.
JP: What are your three favorite movies of all time?
Oh I’m going to sound so millennial right now….Mean Girls, any Disney movie and pretty much any Judd Apatow movie
JP: What is one place you would drop everything at a moment’s notice to travel to?
So many places. We’re going to O’ahu for Wanderlust in March, then Bali and India in April so to choose a place outside of those, I’d say New Zealand.
JP: One of my favorite facets of healthy living is nutrition. What is your philosophy on nutrition?
Nutrition is the one healthy living facet I suck at to be honest. I don’t eat any dairy and that’s the one thing I’m strict on because it makes me break out, but other than that, I come from a family of chefs that would kill me if I went vegan or vegetarian. I am very lucky to have a small frame, so I live by the philosophy of indulging in foods that make me happy.
I think it’s important with nutrition to do what your comfortable with rather than try extreme anything. If you want to go vegan, maybe start vegetarian and then slowly get rid of other things so it’s not as challenging. Also, be gentle with yourself, you’re doing just fine. 🙂
JP: Okay, last question… If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are three things you would bring (assuming food is available there) and why?
My fiance, my dog and a camera. I love taking photos – especially in a tropical setting – and would need to have my fiancé there to compliment me and my dog there to keep me sane. 😛
Alright Ava, thank you for the time! If anyone reading wants to check out her blog, click this link (kickingasana.com) for more information and content by Ava! Stay tuned for future posts and interviews coming up.