It’s no secret that mushrooms are hugely healing and have become a stalwart in the plant medicine community. Although we know they hold great power, they still also remain a little bit mysterious and mystical to many. Tonya Papanikolov is the founder of Rainbo, a sustainable functional mushroom company that believes fungi is vital to the long term health and harmony of people and planet. As you’ll read below, incorporating daily mushroom tonics and powders into her own routines and rituals profoundly healed and balanced Tonya’s body and mind. We love the informative plant wisdom infused into this month’s column and are inspired to add many of Tonya’s practices into our own AM/PM routines.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how Rainbo came to be?
I’m a seeker and alchemist at heart. I’ve always been led by my insatiable curiosity, open mind, and a desire to help humanity, so I naturally found myself in science and the healing arts.
I’ve been seeking tools of transformation and paths to enlightenment since my early 20s. I had a range of health issues that led me down the healing path to explore Eastern and Western healing systems — from nutrition and food, to yoga and meditation, to sacred ceremonies. In 2011, I started learning about functional mushrooms through David Wolfe, and shortly after started foraging in Northern Ontario and drinking chaga and reishi tea daily. In 2016, I began working with high therapeutic doses of reishi and saw major transformations in my health and body. I was amazed by the power of the humble mushroom. Next thing I knew, I was listening to Terence McKenna, learning to grow mushrooms, and was called to create Rainbo and use business as an agent for change.
My fascination with the fungi kingdom as a whole, whether functional or sacred, is formed by wisdom teachings, personal experience, and study into how these organisms can heal our planet and body, and change, open and rewire our minds.
The greater metaphor of what mushrooms represent in nature is both my — and Rainbo’s — raison d’être: resilience, cooperation, and the unfathomable magnitude of nature’s intelligence and interconnectedness. These fungal organisms contain some of the secrets to life, as they network and weave into the collective consciousness.
What is your AM/PM routine? Or do you mix it up?
- Wake, smile at my partner, cuddle and share any notable dreams from the night, a quick gratitude practice, and to hydrate with water.
- Look at my Oura Ring sleep data. I’m fascinated by it and love to see the improvements I’ve been making!
- Dry brush and two-minute cold shower (doing my best to stay consistent with the cold showers).
- Take an Alexis Smart Flower Remedy.
- Kundalini sadhana (20-30 minute practice of breathing, kriya, and meditation).
- Make nut milk (almond, cashew or hemp).
- Make a mushroom matcha tonic with Rainbo tinctures (11:11, Reishi and Lion’s Mane are on heavy rotation, usually with a splash of mushroom maple syrup, Forest Juice!) I always take a moment of pause before drinking to connect with the mushrooms and all that we do for each other.
- Make a green smoothie or juice.
PM (I usually mix my PM rituals up):
- Going on a run or exercising after my work day (running, pilates, rebounding are my go-to’s).
- Make dinner and listen to jazz music or my partner’s music.
- I’ll say a little prayer and take a pause before I eat a meal.
- Sometimes, I’ll do a Kundalini yoga practice.
- Other times I run a bath.
- You could also find me journalling.
- On those days I don’t feel like exercising as intensely, I’ll go for a walk.
- Also reading and watching films are some of my favorite evening rituals.
Do you see the value in routines?
Absolutely. I developed morning routines and practices to stay committed to my personal growth, to manage stress, and to be intentional about how I spend my days. Having a morning/evening practice helps to keep me grounded, aligned, and on a path that is supportive to my health and wellbeing. When I take good care of myself, I can take even better care of my business and those around me. It’s simple math! Since my days are typically a whirlwind of calls, meetings, zooms and deep work — I create routines and rituals with the bookends of my day to keep me grounded.
Everything comes down to intention, and bringing more intentionality into the things we do is a transformative act. It might mean that you pause for a few moments of gratitude before eating a meal, you eat away from your desk, you chew your food a bit longer, or it could look like journaling and self-awareness exercises. It could look like taking time to meditate or go on a walk when something is bothering you, instead of reacting in the moment (and then regretting it later). Your intentions change everything.
Do you have any rituals that you practice?
I journal on new and full moons. On new moons, I focus on what I’m calling in and what doors are opening for me. I store my new moon manifestations in a box that I call my GOD box which I keep on my altar.
And on full moons, I release, let go, and sometimes burn a piece of paper that I have written on which always feels powerful.
My partner and I exchange moon massages on the new and full moon as well! I get a massage on full moons from him, and I give him a massage on new moons. We play music, light incense, and it’s been a really wonderful bi-monthly ritual.
How and why are they meaningful to you?
They allow me the space to bring more awareness into my life and check-in with myself. Writing is a powerful tool for me where I both gain clarity and process a lot. There is little that cannot be fixed with a pen and paper. Writing is a cathartic tool for me.
Do you think routines and rituals can be one and the same?
Yes, I do. I mean it’s a bit of semantics because it’s really just the meaning and value they hold to the individual. For me, my routines are the things I typically do each day, whereas my rituals are a bit more special and are done a few times a month. But I could also call my mushroom lattes a daily ritual. For as I make them, I create my tonic with intention and take a moment of pause, gratitude, and awareness for the mushrooms and my connection to them. I consider this both a ritual and a daily routine.
What advice would you give to add more ritual into their life?
When creating a morning ritual, it’s nice to gather inspiration from people you admire, digest it, and realize that it’s going to look different for you. It’s really about figuring out what works best for you. What makes you feel your best, in what sequence, and realizing that it’s not going to be perfect, some days you will fall off but you just get right back on the next day or when it feels right. You’ve gotta leave room for life to happen. So don’t be too rigid about it but at the same time, stay committed to taking and creating this time for yourself. Nobody gives this time to you, so you’ve got to take it and stake it out for yourself!
My daily routines and rituals have truly transformed my life. I couldn’t recommend it enough — they give you the power and awareness to transform, find clarity, stay inspired, and cultivate a stronger sense of self.
Tonya Papanikolov is the founder and CEO of Rainbo. She’s a Holistic Nutritionist, educator, entrepreneur and wellness leader. Tonya has been on a healing journey since she was 16-years-old and has devoted her life’s work to helping people become healthier and more vibrant through functional nutrition, lifestyle, and fungi.