Adriana Ayales, Founder of Anima Mundi
Adriana Ayales, founder of Anima Mundi Apothecary, is like a calming ocean breeze. Her energy is endearing – warm, kind, sweet, and very much contagious. She’s living in Costa Rica as she prepares to welcome her second child, but her generosity and charm from afar easily flooded my inbox. She’s one of those lovely people you meet and feel like you’ve known forever – I look forward to connecting with her in person when she makes her next visit to New York City, but for now, I share a magical glimpse into this ethereal Rain-Forest-Herbalist + Astrologer’s divine passion for helping others heal through the power of plant medicine + letting go.
Adriana grew up in Costa Rica where she currently resides. She spent nearly 10 years living in the States, however, she’s most at peace living amongst the tropical jungle. She appreciates the beauty of the land and its peaceful, calming way of life. A way of life she fondly enjoyed as a child, and wants to share with her children today. She recalls simpler times; focusing on the love of the outdoors and embracing a life of living in the moment with far fewer distractions than living in the densely populated New York City, which she travels to often to visit her new apothecary in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. In fact, it was a love that first brought her to New York City. It was in this bustling city Sakara calls home that she started seeing private clients in her apartment, making plant medicines and quickly realizing there was a common thread between most of her ‘city’ client symptoms and a high demand for plant-based medicine. These first plant medicines she created so many years ago are still some of her go-to staple formulas for Anima Mundi today. She quickly outgrew her apartment and set-up an office where she could work and ultimately open her doors to more clients, providing a grassroots form of healthcare to city dwellers and beyond, as she continued to grow her business online, too.
Read below to hear more of Adriana's incredible journey from embracing her psychic energy as a young girl to the power of astrology + how it affects herbs just as it does people. Plus find out the backstory behind her passionate love for jungle herbalism, what she can't live without, what she’s listening to as warm summer days approach + of course, her favorite beauty foods…
Adriana, in your bio, it says you were born into a lineage of healing women. Was your Mother an herbalist? How did the women in your life influence you as a young girl to become who you are today?
From a very young age I learned from my grandmother to unlock a gift I was born with. She is very gifted and psychic and through her, I learned as a girl to use psychic sight and explore the other avenues that belonged to my generational inheritance to tap into, like, healing with herbs. Although my grandmother, like most grandmothers, used and believed in the power of folk remedies, she wasn’t exactly an herbalist. Oftentimes, each generation within a healing lineage manifests its gifts in a unique and different way than the generation before. When I started growing up a bit more, like in my teens, I started accessing the spirit world pretty actively through dreaming and certain meditations that enabled that. Most of the time I simply engaged with what presented itself, as spirits and happenings within these worlds simply pop into your life you don’t really choose them, they choose you! I trained with several shamans/healers to explore this and through the use of plant medicine, meditation, and consciously developing the inherited gifts, I was able to tap further into the lineage that I was brought into and unlock the gifts. I started listening and became aware that my gift was in listening to the spirit of plants and administering them.
You’ve studied different healing traditions such as, Ayurvedic, Chinese medicine, North American traditional medicine and European style alchemy. Do you have a preference between one of these practices? What makes each different from one another?
I love the symbiosis of combining different healing systems. I’ve come to choose the elements that really resonate depending on the aspect that I’m working on. For example, using the detailed work of Ayurvedic tri-doshic body systems, in conjunction to Chinese elementology and the art of medicine making in European style alchemy – you begin to see a common thread, so depending on the part of the diagnosis that I’m focusing on I draw different tools from a particular system. I honestly don't have a preference as they’re all perfect in their own way.
Was there one thing that attracted you to this line of work – to help + heal others through plant medicine?
Ah, yes! Everything about it. Wildcrafting and medicine-making are my two absolute favorite things to do in life, but all around living close to the earth is a life that most of us love. From being in the wilderness picking fresh tonics, to living close to the Earth, to having a farm-life, to applying biodynamics and seeing the perfection of yield your garden harvest is, to simply BEING in nature. All of it is truly amazing.
I noticed you’ve also studied Astrology + Cosmology (so cool!). How do these different skillsets blend into your daily work as an Herbalist + does “Tribal Herbalist” mean something different than “Herbalist?”
Yes, correct. I have studied astrology for many years and absolutely love it. I went to the California School of Integral Studies around 2009/2010, where I was immersed in archetypal astrology with Rick Tarnas and Stanislav Grof, along with other brilliant astrologers. I had been practicing biodynamic and learning how planetary transits affect particular herbs and how herbs themselves contain base archetypes within their makeup, that make them what they are (like us!). The term tribal herbalism [reflects] that I grew up in Costa Rica and love the rainforest. My base studies in herbalism with particular curanderos (traditional Native healer) is classically called “rainforest tribal herbalism”, so it’s the same as an “herbalist,” but it simply means that it’s the herbalism of the jungle.
What was it like growing up in Costa Rica + how much time did you spend living in New York City + California?
Ah, I’m so grateful for this. It was amazing, and I want my kids to have the same experience. Life is a lot simpler - basic in a good way. For the most part there is less density, back then there was less distraction, being in nature is just a lot more part of your life on a regular basis than for most folks that live in heavily populated areas. I also cherish that we grew up with clean water, clean food, clean air, and in a very safe environment. I lived in the US for about 10-years full time, and I feel like I still do on a part-time basis as the business operates there (in NYC). I visit very often, and I look forward to offering more classes and in-depth apprenticeships on the more esoteric components of herbalism. We will begin retreats and more herbal schooling in Costa Rica for folks to have a place to escape and learn rainforest herbalism.
Why did you choose New York City for your first wellness location (it’s beautiful, I’m so happy you did)?
Ha! If only I knew years ago that I would end up there, I would’ve never believed you. I used to dread going to NYC and wasn’t a fan. Honestly, I had fallen in love (or at least I thought!) with a man that lived in NYC whom I had met in Costa Rica during a retreat in the jungle. So, I moved to NYC, sublet an apartment in Brooklyn and worked part-time for a summer at an incredible retreat center in upstate New York. In the apartment, I kept tons of plant medicines that I would bring in and started seeing clients privately for herbal consultations. Soon after my little home production became too big for the space, so I decided to stay longer in NYC and found an office nearby to make plant medicines and receive clients. Slowly, but surely, it just kept growing and growing! I saw that, let’s say, 7 out of 10 clients shared the same base issues, so I started making mother formulas that targeted common symptoms. I continued making these formulas with my favorite herbs, that to this day became the staple formulas for Anima Mundi.
What is it about herbalism + helping others to better educate their mind + body through healthy methods of plant-healing that makes you most happy?
Seeing people heal themselves is what makes me most happy. It’s amazing to see people switch their belief system from “not sure if I can, but I’ll give it a try” to “I feel amazing, this is a miracle.” I think nature operates so closely with our will, that it’ll target and heal all imbalance on a mind/body/soul level. In my experience, it’s all a question about how much are you willing to let go in order to heal...
In your bio, it mentions you saw auras and people’s spirits as a young girl; do you still experience these gifts today + does this play into your work when helping clients with their needs today?
Yes. I have been able to access this since I was a little one. I do use this as a prime way to gain access into how I can contribute any healing for someone. I haven’t been receiving clients in some time, but I’ll be opening my practice again by later this year, where I’ll incorporate a significant amount of these tools into the session.
What’s your favorite thing about Costa Rica + your favorite thing about New York City?
I love the jungly beaches and the cloud forests of Costa Rica, and I love all the availability of New York City, from amazing workshops to delicious food.
For a customer who is new to plant medicine + testing the waters with herbal supplements, what’s a great product of yours that you would recommend for most to try?
Our Adaptogenic Immortality Formula is great. It’s a blend of 7 mushrooms with Costa Rica heirloom cacao. It’s such an exquisite blend that is powerful on the long term, yet gentle on the system for the majority of people. Kids love it too and folks that are not too fond of the herbal ball game.
What are your morning + bedtime rituals?
I love meditating and journaling.
What’s your favorite beauty food (currently)?
Mangosteen peel and fruit.
What products of yours are best for skin-health + boosting glow-factor + for de-stressing (city life can be rough!)?
Our plant-based Collagen contains adaptogens and herbs that help the body boost collagen naturally. The adaptogens in it also support calming the system and unclogging the body from accumulated stress. Paired with a healthy diet, it is astounding to see the effects it gives to most constitutions. The collagen with our high vitamin C superfruit favorite, Mangosteen Hibiscus is exceptional!
What are you currently listening to – favorite record, CD, or on iTunes?
I really love Sitar, Tabla, and the Indian flute. I listen to a bunch of different artists that incorporate these beautiful instruments.
What’s one thing you can’t live without?
What are you most grateful for?
My family. Their unbreakable support is what keeps me going.
What would you like your legacy to be with Anima Mundi?
Anima Mundi is a company that aims in providing high quality, yet accessible, grassroots form of healthcare.
P.S. For those of you living in, or visiting New York City, be sure to visit her apothecary – a peaceful sun-soaked space tucked along the East River in Brooklyn for beauty tonics, teas + plant medicines. I speak truthfully when I say I’m personally a fan of Cerebrum Brain + Happiness Tonics; together, both keep me high-energy, über-focused + functioning at my top, so city life doesn’t get the best of me.