Voices of UMA: Q&A with Jane on How She Learned to Love Ayurveda
At UMA, we love hearing stories from people who have developed their own personal relationship with Ayurveda. We’re especially thrilled if we helped guide them through their wellness journey in any way, whether it be through our products, blog, or podcast.
However, we also know that Ayurveda can appear intimidating to those who are new to this ancient, cause-oriented system of medicine, and that it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s why we’re launching a new blog feature, Voices of UMA, which spotlights people in the UMA community who have gone through their own unique journey with Ayurveda. By sharing these experiences, we hope that those of you who are curious about Ayurveda can receive advice from people who were once in the same position. We want to break down Ayurveda into concepts that are approachable, interesting, and actionable—and these women are here to help.
For our first Voices of UMA feature, we’re sharing the story of one of our customers who learned about Ayurveda through UMA products and online sources, and who took up Ayurvedic practices that ultimately became mainstays in her wellness routine. At her request, her identity will remain anonymous, and this story refers to her as Jane. Jane generously shared her Ayurveda journey, practices, advice, and more—here’s our full conversation below.
Voices of UMA: Q&A with Jane on How She Learned to Love Ayurveda
At UMA, we love hearing from people who have developed their own relationship with Ayurveda. How did you first become introduced to Ayurveda? Had you heard of it before? What initially drew you to its practices?
I first became introduced to Ayurveda through Goop. I read and heard about Ayurveda on the site, and I also saw UMA products advertised there. I Googled UMA and Ayurveda several times, but I didn’t take the full plunge to immerse myself—mainly because I prefer to have these kinds of experiences in person—until I saw that The Detox Market was hosting an UMA event. There, I met an absolutely wonderful UMA representative who showed me UMA’s products and answered my questions about the brand and about Ayurveda. She told me about UMA’s navel oils in particular, and I was hooked.
As I became familiar with UMA and started purchasing their products full-time, I realized that I was already engaging in several Ayurvedic practices, such as dry brushing, oil pulling, and self-massages. During that period, I also started practicing yoga, so the transformation was happening on several levels at once (very Pitta-like of me). As time went on, I became motivated to try more. I’m already very self-attuned in the mind-body sense and am deeply spiritual, so the idea of physical self-care that aligns with your deeper well-being is incredibly attractive to me. Ayurveda just makes perfect sense. It’s straightforward, simple, and natural, when you think about it.
It’s wonderful to hear that you were able to encounter UMA in person, and that you came to Ayurveda in such an organic way. While Ayurveda might be a totally unfamiliar system to some, your experience helps demonstrate how many Ayurvedic practices are simple and natural to pick up. Could you share a bit more about some of the other experiences you’ve had with Ayurveda? Which Ayurvedic products or practices have you especially enjoyed or found useful?
I’ve found several Ayurvedic practices to be extremely complementary to my lifestyle and personal values. My experiences with Ayurveda have been paradoxically simple, yet profound as I explore all the different ways in which minor changes can so largely impact my life. Firstly, I am a major advocate for dry brushing—you really don’t know what you’re missing out on until you do it. My body started to crave it, and I didn’t feel right until I did it. It was a daily drainage for all this fluid and other bodily intake that I didn’t know was there. As someone who stores a lot of memory and emotion in their body, having this experience with myself each day was a fantastic way to check in and regulate. I was already an avid runner, but I didn’t realize how stagnant the energy and emotions in my body were. Suddenly I found a physical release for it that was so personal and immediately gratifying. It’s been about a year now, and I feel so much more relieved and less tense.
My next big introduction to Ayurveda was through UMA’s navel oils. I just LOVE the idea of not overtaxing your skin and recognizing that the navel center is the center of life. The effects were immediate and profound: thanks to the Body Balancing Navel Therapy Oil, I was immediately less bloated, and the Beauty Boosting Navel Therapy Oil made my skin radiant. I’ve always been into skincare, so paying attention to the rest of my body was a real revelation. I started using UMA’s hair and face oils shortly thereafter. I have oily skin and an oily scalp so it seems counterintuitive to use more oil, but it did exactly what the UMA representative told me it would—it balanced the excess sebum. I’ve been so excited with each addition to the UMA line and have since gotten the face masks, toner, eyebrow oil, lip oil, and wellness oils.
One of the most recent additions to my Ayurvedic routine is a tongue scraper. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of quality oral care. What goes on in the mouth reflects how balanced the immune system is. I love oil pulling and using a tongue scraper to detoxify—my mouth feels so clean afterward, and I’ve definitely noticed that I taste my food better. And the best part about the tongue scraper is that it is self-reinforcing. The immediate effects make you want to keep doing it anyway.
Finally, I’ve also developed practices like adding lemon to room temperature water in the morning and waking up with the sun. Watching the sunrise in the morning is the perfect way to remember that each day is different, beautiful, and filled with opportunity, and that there is so much to be grateful for. That’s been a practice easier to take on during quarantine, without needing to rush out the door in the morning. I have plenty of time to ease into my day and practice self-care rituals. I can organize my meals and my thoughts accordingly. I’ve also been able to go outside more and appreciate the natural rhythms of nature. It’s a little hard to believe that the answers to our questions have been in nature all this time.
It’s amazing that you’ve been able to use this uncertain quarantine period to further develop your Ayurvedic habits, and to come to appreciate the surrounding world. That’s part of what is so great about Ayurveda—no matter your individual circumstances, there are ways to incorporate Ayurvedic solutions into your everyday life. However, since Ayurveda has not always been a large part of mainstream beauty and wellness conversations, we find that people may be initially intimidated by its practices. Did you experience any confusion, and if so, what were some of the questions that you had (or still have) about Ayurveda?
I was initially hesitant to get into Ayurveda because I didn’t know where to look. Since Ayurveda is all-encompassing, I think it can feel like too large of a lifestyle change for the homeostatic individual. It’s also embedded into Western culture that external products can solve our external problems. By contrast, Ayurveda suggests the individual plays an active role in their state of affairs, which is a humbling and, quite frankly, necessary lesson in part of the human experience. Additionally, in a logistical sense, common health insurances don’t usually cover integrative or functional medicine, so it is unlikely that an Ayurvedic practitioner would be covered. However, while I think our cultural beliefs are very different from those of Ayurveda, I am optimistic that the tide is turning on how we view self-care. Especially during this public health crisis, we’re being forced to try new ways of looking after ourselves.
In terms of the questions I have about Ayurveda, you’ll notice that I’ve principally applied Ayurveda to my beauty and self-care. I am definitely not inspired to cook so that will be a difficult adjustment to make as I immerse myself more deeply, which brings me to another question: What are the bounds of Ayurvedic practice? Is there a point at which you know you’ve fully immersed? As a spiritual person, I’ve engaged in several energetic practices and know that life is much more abstract than textbook definitions. I think I originally had a misconception that Ayurveda would be a definitional experience as opposed to an ever-changing, intangible, and abstract “journey” like other spiritual practices are. By no means did that deter me from engaging with the practice, though.
You’re right in that Ayurveda is not just a series of practices for one’s physical well-being, but that it’s also deeply connected to our spiritual and emotional health, which makes it inherently resistant to strict definition. Given that everyone’s journey with Ayurveda is different, what has been most surprising to you about Ayurveda so far? And what do you hope to learn and gain from it in the future?
I think the most surprising thing I’ve learned is that everything in life is abstract, spiritual, and carries an energy. Compared to other spiritual practices, Ayurveda touched on other parts of my life I didn’t think could be viewed in this lens. As human beings, our bodies are manifestations of energy, and we have a role to play as co-creators. The other co-creator is nature, the universe, the divine, however one wants to define it. Our alignment with nature will keep us healthy. But in order to do our part we have to learn about ourselves and recognize that there is a deeper meaning behind everything, down to the food we eat. It is so easy to overlook these small signs, like how our bodies respond to what we put into it and how our environment affects our mood. Ayurveda makes the interconnectedness of everything clear to us.
While we’re limited in our engagement with the outside world right now, I hope to expand my Ayurvedic practices into my food choices and to meditate more. I think this will be truly put to the test when we’re out in social settings and our lives become demanding again, albeit differently than before. Once that happens, stress will begin (if it hasn’t already) to manifest in new forms, so I hope to learn how to cope with that in an Ayurvedic sense. I’m really looking forward to adapting to seasonal changes in the Ayurvedic way this year. The shifting hours of daylight has always been a hard adjustment, and in a socially isolated reality, I imagine it’ll be even harder. Overall, my biggest aspiration is to view everything around me in the Ayurvedic lens. To notice the forms of energy and to be able to put terms to them, while studying their interaction.
Fortunately, we already have some content on our blog about seasonal changes and are always looking for relevant content to publish as the year goes on. We think it’s wonderful that you’ve been able to develop your interests in Ayurveda through our products, and we hope that initiatives like our podcast and blog can do the same. Since part of our mission is sharing Ayurveda with others, and you’re someone who has developed a robust, personal relationship to Ayurveda, here’s one final question: Do you have any advice for other members of our audience who want to learn about Ayurveda but are unsure of where to start?
Take inventory of yourself—your body, your life, your relationship with yourself—and ask the tough questions. Don’t settle for mediocre, average, or typical. Once we recognize that we can feel better all the time, will we strive to know more. The internet is a great asset these days—surfing the web and listening to podcasts are simple and informative ways to learn about Ayurveda. Additionally, be okay with the uncertainty of these times and find comfort in the things within your reach, asking yourself how you can do better. This self-reflection will without a doubt prompt you to consider your habits and how to improve the choices you make. Lastly, ask questions to a broader community. We’re all in this together, and it doesn’t hurt to share or seek advice from others engaging in Ayurvedic practices as well. There are no wrong answers; it is a journey, after all. But the destination shouldn’t be the singular focus—it’s about the ways in which we grow and change along the way and build meaning into our lives. Ayurveda gives a toolbox for that and there is at least one way in which every individual can transform their lives for the better. Of that I am sure.