Interview with Ayurveda practitioner Farida Irani

By Donna Duggan

Interview with Ayurveda practitioner Farida Irani

I have been a fan of Ayurveda practitioner and clinical Aromatherapist Farida Irani for many years. Her knowledge of various healing arts including ayurveda, aromatherapy and reflexology is exceptional. Farida’s skin and haircare range, Subtle Energies offers some truly beautiful and unique products.  Here she chats about her work and philosophy.

How did you come about founding Subtle Energies?

I began my career in the corporate world. I always felt there was a genuine need for relieving stress from corporate burn out, this belief coupled with my father’s love for natural therapies, motivated me to begin my studies in Natural Therapies.

Subtle Energies began in 1993 initially as a clinic of Natural Therapies where I practiced Aromatherapy, Ayurveda, Bowen Therapy and many other modalities. Through my research and sourcing of these rare oils the brand Subtle Energies first emerged. It has gone through many stages of evolution to what we now see today.

What is the philosophy behind Ayurveda?

“Ayu” means life and “Veda” means science. Ayurveda is a time-tested science, going back 5,000 years in written script, though the origins of its teachings is said to be over 40,000 years old.

Ayurveda has specified ways in which Aromatics, diet, herbs, yoga and even cosmetics could help to sustain balance in our daily lives.

Ayurveda is based on inherited genetic constitution and molecular biology, treating different body/skin types based on the 5 elements of air, water, fire, ether (space), and earth.

How are ancient Indian practices relevant for modern Western lifestyles?

In a way the clock has turned around, and people in the West and the East are looking for holistic ways to improve their lifestyles and to be in charge of their lifestyles. The ancient Indian Practices have got just that to offer and are more relevant today than ever before.

What is a simple Ayurvedic practice that people can incorporate into their everyday life? A simple Ayurveda daily practice is called a Dinacharya meaning daily routine. There are many routines one can do. The easiest and the most simple way of doing this is having a glass of warm water first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. This helps to dilate all the channels and scrape of Aama (toxins). Something that you might do is also add to your daily cooking turmeric, ginger, cumin, lime and coriander seeds (there are plenty more) as these ingredients serve as natural tonics, rejuvenators and detoxifiers for the digestive and immune systems. This is known in Ayurveda as ‘food as medicine, medicine as food’.

Why are aromatherapy oils an important element of your skincare and haircare range? The essential oils act as the active ingredients in our skincare. There is sometimes a concern from people that aromatic ranges can cause reactions, and this can be true of synthetic fragrances found in many ranges, however when you are using pure high grade oils, the benefits that these oils can have on your skin, mind and body are profound and proven. An example is Mogra, a known cytophylactic (cell renewer), that can help promote collagen synthesis, but also has wonderful anti- anxiety properties. So, not only is a physical benefit received, but also emotionally people feel connected when using their skincare.

Your products have really unique formulations such as the Neem and Coriander Seed Shampoo and the Rose and Cardamon Hand Cream. Who creates the products and what process is involved in their creation?

The original blends and formulas were created and made by myself, as we grew, my husband Sheriar, who is an engineer by trade, re-creates my formulas on a larger scale. In the past few years my children, Khursheed and Nick, have also been involved in the conceptualising and formula process of the essential oil blends. Our family will be the only ones to formulate these essential oil blends. Once a blend is agreed, tried and tested, we work with our skin care chemists in blending the essential oils and other ingredients of ours into the various mediums that we would like the blends to work through, i.e. a cream, a cleansing gel etc. Then of course there is a whole process of clinical trials, safety testing and product testing before the product is released into market.

Do you have a favourite product from the range?

I would have to say the Facial Blend, it has been with me for years and apart from its countless benefits, no matter how much we have evolved, expanded and grown, the blend has been a favourite of many and has been part of our journey.

What is one product from Subtle Energies that you would like everyone to try? Facial Blend of course, but we also have a beautiful Mud that I am quite fond of at the moment; we call it the Dry Mix Pitta Mud. It is a beautiful combination of Ayurveda clay, purifying herbal extracts and specific essential oils. We have let the Mud dry i.e. it comes in a powder form. We do this so you have the choice to either add water or milk as a mixer for drier skin types. The effect of this mask is instantly cooling, making it wonderful for sensitive skin and at the same time it draws toxins and heat effectively from your skin. After washing off the mud your skin will feel soft and fresh.

You use many interesting ingredients in your products such as mogra, gul heena and limbu? Where do you source these ingredients from?

We have been very fortunate to have established relationships with various distillers and farmers over the years, primarily from different parts of India. The oil comes from the region where the oil grade quality is highest; we find some wonderfully rare oils, but also rare qualities of common oils. An example is our Lavender, which is a French lavender found in the high altitude Himalayan plains of Kashmir. Tests have shown that this lavender has a higher than normal content of Linalool (this gives Lavender its sedating and soothing properties) and less camphor (chemical component that gives lavender its sharp undertone and bite). This is attributed to the high altitude glacial waters that surround the valleys and the high quality steam distillation methods found in the region.

What are some of your favourite beauty rituals and treatments?

With beauty regimes, most people concentrate purely on the face, but with looking after your body from the inside out, your facial skin, your stress, your worry lines, automatically fade away. One of my favourites is Aromatic Dressing. It is a beautiful and simple ritual of massaging the oils on your body, and this combined with the benefits of the oil you choose if done everyday (or every second day) will get you ready each day for life’s challenges. I choose my oil blend like I choose a dress I want to wear that day, thereby looking after the body inside out. Try doing it with a fun song after your shower.


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