The Roots of Ayurveda

I remember it well; my first sighting of an Ayurvedic-inspired treatment on a luxury spa menu was in 1998.  I had recently learned about Ayurveda from my mentor and Spa Director who was training under pioneering Ayurvedic sports coach, John Douillard.  Ayurveda, akin to Chinese medicine, is a 7000-year-old ancient medical system still formally practiced today.  It requires an intuitive and skilled awareness of the body, addressing imbalances with diet, movement, and treatment to increase detoxification and circulation. This is what made Ayurveda particularly attractive to the spa industry – massage was no longer just for relaxation; it could be utilized to promote detoxification. Spas began modifying traditional Ayurveda treatments to fit neatly into 60 or 90-minute protocol, and almost overnight Spa-yurveda was born.

A pre-treatment questionnaire determined a spa-goers individual ‘Dosha’ –  their unique body constitution made up of Vata (air), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (Earth). This would dictate the type of treatment offered, and the oils used in treatment to “balance” their Dosha. 4-handed Abhyanga massages and meditative Shirodhara treatments became the services du jour, giving rise to lengthier Ayurveda-inspired rituals and, in some cases, weekend-long retreats.

I was curious, and I also had a hunch that this watered down version didn’t really do Ayurveda any favors. I wanted to experience Ayurveda in its purest form, no holds barred. For my 30th birthday, I treated myself to a month-long, 1:1 intensive with an Ayurveda practitioner at an Ayurveda institute. I committed to a full cycle of Pancha Karma, the Ayurveda detoxification protocol. This required a diet of mung beans and rice, daily herbs, and full abstention from TV and the Internet. My entertainment was restricted to inspirational books and music, or meditation. And of course, it involved Ayurveda treatments, including lots and lots of massage.  Unlike the Ayurveda-lite practiced in spas, these massages were clinical to aid in pure body detoxification. By month’s end, I had a new found appreciation for the science and practice of Ayurveda, and it was the beginning of a life-long appreciation for this Science of Life.

As spas and product companies continued to adapt and refine Ayurveda for mass consumption, a few have emerged as the gold standard. When I first discovered UMA Oils, I immediately noticed that nothing about this brand was watered down – the scents, the potency or the results. I also noticed that all of the formulas were oils and pastes infused with herbs, respecting traditional Ayurveda preparations. After learning about their single-estate organic farm and sustainable production methods, I knew UMA Oils was not merely inspired by Ayurveda, but firmly rooted in this ancient medicine.

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A sure sign of bona fide Ayurvedic preparations is the use of ingredients native to India. A few traditional ingredients that give UMA Oils their potency include:

Indian Gooseberry (also known as Amla) – one of the key ingredients in UMA’s Intensely Nourishing Hair Oil.  It is known for restoring balance to the hair and scalp and delivers a high-level antioxidant protection from Vitamin C.

Saffron – one of the key ingredients in UMA’s Ultimate Brightening Face Mask, it is a precious spice that serves as potent antibacterial and supports a clear complexion.  It also evens and brightens skin tone.

Sandalwood – prized for its aroma, one of the top ingredients listed in UMA’s Ultimate Anti-Aging Face Oil. It works wonders on skin by reducing inflammation and targeting hyperpigmentation.

Cypriol –responsible for the earthy, woodsy scent in the UMA Intensely Nourishing Hair Oil, it is a traditional botanical that is toning and strengthening for the hair and scalp.

Neroli – This orange blossom, grown in abundance on the UMA estate, is the top ingredient in UMA’s Ultimate Anti-Aging Face Oil and UMA Ultimate Anti-Aging Body Oil. High in Vitamin-C, it promotes skin repair and youthfulness.

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