I met Tonya in the park last summer, and since then have not been able to stay away from her and her magical work (not that I would want to).  Meditating in L.A? There is Tonya right in front of me, recognizable by her incredible mane of hair. Reading a favourite blog? Bam, Tonya again. Not to mention her amazing Instagram that is just a well of inspiration (no pun intended).

Tonya’s venture, The Well Woman, is an oasis of plant-based inspiration and female wellness advice, delivered with gentleness and grace. I’ve shared my love of Tonya’s plant cheeses before, and I cannot wait to attend one of her dinners as soon as I can. In the meantime, read on for this beautiful soul’s rituals and insights.

Describe who you are.

My name is Tonya. I’m a holistic nutritionist, chef and founder of The Well Woman.

At this point in my life it’s impossible to separate who I am from what I do, because they are so closely linked. At my core, I am constantly inspired, constantly curious, constantly seeking to connect and be of service to those around me. Creativity and education are central themes to my work. I aim to inspire wellness through healthy food and holistic health.

Can you talk about starting your beautiful venture, The Well Woman? What inspired you to start it, and what were some challenges along the way/lessons learned?

Thank you! I was inspired to start The Well Woman while I was studying holistic nutrition in Toronto. I wanted a space to share my knowledge and vision of wellness, food, and holistic health. Of course, my own healing journey and experience have been central to coming into this path and way of living.

There have been many challenges along the way: how to make wellness accessible, how to communicate my message and vision, finding my place in the wellness world, refining my services and getting clear on a longer term vision. It’s been less than a year since starting The Well Woman, I am constantly learning lessons about how to do business, grow and really refining what it is I am doing. I find it challenging to find a word for what I do. There isn’t one. I am not a typical chef, I am not a typical nutritionist, or a typical artist. I associate with those words but I’m really finding my own way of expressing those things and being of service through it.

How do you like to start and end your day?

My ideal morning starts as: upon waking, throwing my hands to the ceiling and having a moment of gratefulness. Water. 20 minute meditation. Cold shower. Green juice. Breakfast. Coffee or tea.

End my day: this totally ranges and to be honest I’m just happy if I stop working before 11pm. I like to work at night. I wish I didn’t but I do and I’m generally not tired until late. Ideally I do some reading before bed. Sometimes I’’ll watch an episode of a show or do some journalling or run a bath.

Do you have any other routines or rituals during the day?

Other routines I aim for are at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Drinking 2L of spring or filtered water (the purer the better). Yoga a few times a week. Regular meal times. Regular bowel movements, and if they’re not, getting them back on track 🙂

What are some ways you like to celebrate your self?

I do this in a lot of subtle ways. Simply taking time for myself is a celebration. Having morning time, eating well, drinking enough water, being dedicated to meditation time. Dancing and moving my body. Working through issues via reading, writing or talking. All of this strengthens my connection to myself and makes me feel happy, whole and healthy. What greater celebration could there be? I feel lucky that my line of work (in wellness) is very closely related to self-care, so I get to do this in a variety of ways every day and as a career.

What are some of your favourite occasions throughout the year, both personal and cultural?

Occasions where I get to spend time with friends and family are always special to me. And I feel grateful to be a part of many dinner celebrations that I host or do catering for. These have been my favourite occasions as of late.

When I look at the year as a whole, the things I enjoy most are travelling and working in new cities, moving to different places, going on adventures. Some of my favourite occasions and memories are simply spontaneous ones that are not planned. I love nature which makes me inclined to prefer summer, warm weather and sunshine. I thrive in this place and feel much more connected.

Any last thoughts on ritual, ceremony, and occasioning?

I think it’s important to find ritual in the everyday. Simply listening to our bodies can become ritual. We can find ritual in our morning practice, in our meditation and yoga. Our health can become a ritual and a sacred practice. Making food becomes a meditative process, I get into a zone, I forget the things around me, I listen to some mantras. These are special rituals to me that I’ve integrated into the every day.

Thank you Tonya for sharing! Find more of The Well Woman online and on Instagram.

Photo credits: Nathan Legiehn