Exclusive Interview with Farida Irani of Subtle Energies
Natural skin care have always been something I’m extremely passionate about. I believe taking a good care of our skin with high quality products it is important as eating organic vegetables. Skin is the largest organ and we need to take a good care of it. Almost year ago I received a PR box from Subtle Energies, what now a year later is my daily skin care routine. I don’t know if it was my moment finding a perfect match but through many life changes, dry air while living in the desert, busy life schedule… Subtle Energies have been a real life saver keeping my skin so healthy and smooth. I am so proud to be able to share this very personal interview with the founder Farida Irani and talk all things skin care and Ayurveda.
What inspired you to create Subtle Energies?
I began my career as an accountant, but natural therapies always fascinated me. My father was a great believer in massage, hypnotherapy and natural therapies. He studied these sciences as a hobby and to help people.
As a child I was not able to walk even at three or four years old. My father used to take me to a coastal town in India called Bhimpore, which had sand that was known for its rich minerals and healing properties. He would bury me in the sand waist deep. I started walking in a few days. He used to massage me with oils that he infused himself out of various herbs.
He did teach me quite a few techniques in massage. Though I was a qualified and practicing accountant, I realised that natural therapies was my calling so I pursued it as soon as I landed in Australia.
I firmly believe my father’s spirit has inspired me to do the work he was unable to pursue. I believe in the power of spiritual healing and studied all these modalities only to make it tangible. We as therapists are only mediums through which the Cosmic Energies work.
I prefer to call it complementary sciences as we complement conventional medicine, which has an important role to play in our general health and wellbeing.
I was looking for an appropriate name for my clinic and Subtle Energies came to mind. I am not subtle by nature, however when I work, I do so subtly. I follow the tenets of the Zoroastrian philosophy of good thoughts, good words and good deeds, similar to the Vedic principles of the primordial qualities of the mind, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
Tell us more about following Ayurveda and aromatherapy principles in your skincare line?
The blends and formulas work on the principles of Ayurveda, which is based on different body types and the presenting condition prevailing. The synergy of the active ingredients is created depending on the potency of the therapeutics involved, such as warming or cooling, using the opposite attributes on a presenting condition. For example, for a Pitta-oriented problem, which is a fire and water element, we would use ingredients that are cooling and nurturing such as essential oils of Mogra, Indian Rose, Kewda and cooling base oils of Brahmi and Amla. The base oils are cold pressed vegetable oils full of nutrients and vital essential fatty acids that penetrate the body as well. We also apply the Ayurveda principles of taste, potency and post digestive effect of the active ingredients when blending while at the same time the consumer can learn of various Dinacharyas or daily routines which are quite basic but very effective in maintaining a healthy balance and lifestyle.
What are the simple ways to live a more Ayurvedic lifestyle?
There are some simple ways you can bring these principles into your diet regime. These include eating lots of green veggies, spices and ghee.
Avoiding white sugar, white bread, white flour, homogenised milk, acidic foods, incorporating alkaline diet, having triphala for detoxification of liver and ensuring good bowel movement with right foods. Using Shatavari Kalpa in summer, which is a gentle yet dynamic tonic especially for prenatal and post natal care and using Chyavanprash as a tonic to keep healthy in winter.
Holding black seed sesame in the mouth early morning, which is commonly known these days as pulling. In Ayurveda we call it gandush and kawal, which means swishing and holding. This aids in enhancing the anti bodies and getting rid of microbes, which would help the digestive system.
Also applying base oils of black seed sesame in winter or Brahmi in summer as a self abhyang would help to release the aama and bring it to the surface half an hour before shower and then wash it all off. Then do an aromatic dressing with aromatic blends such as Rasayana or Bliss or creating your own would help to start the day feeling balanced and refreshed as they act as excellent moisturisers.
Ensuring that you eat well and have a balanced diet with all the six tastes sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent is ideal. Filling the palms of your hand with food is the amount you should eat as per my Ayurveda Guru Prof Dr P H Kulkarni’s advice. Not more than that. It is called Anjali. An meaning food and jali means that which holds or holding food in the palm of your hand.
Sleeping early and having a good night’s rest and not overindulging in food or sex is what Ayurveda recommends for a healthy lifestyle.
Ayurveda is all about moderation and balance, ensuring that you do fulfill your desires, but do not overdo anything.
Please share some great benefits of Subtle Energies products?
The Subtle Energies products are designed and formulated with knowledge, intuition and care. The essential oils are the defense mechanism of the plant and they are antimicrobial, which means anti viral, anti bacterial, anti fungal to a greater or lesser degree. The base or carrier oils are cold pressed vegetable oils. They have a lot of essential fatty acids and nutrients, benefitting those who utilise the products. Therefore using the Subtle Energies products with these active ingredients will build up immunity, confidence and bring about emotional balance.
People who use the products will be able to choose a day by design, living the lives they love to live.
The skin gets a radiant glow with the facial blend, which has got the mogra, Indian rose and sandalwood in a base oil of ashwagandha and jojoba. It enhances collagen synthesis and brings about a calm emotional balance. It has been known to induce good restful sleep and brings about a euphoria in our day to day living.
The body blends and the mists, especially the Rasayana and the Aura Protection mist, are greatly uplifting. The Rasayana blend is extremely beneficial for adrenal fatigue, which many go through these days due to hectic lifestyles.
The Aura Protection mist is used extensively in board rooms as it aids in focusing and making decisions with oils such as the tulasi, the holy basil, saffron, rhukhus a rare vetiver, Indian lime. Even the left brained, who do not understand the esoteric side of this science acknowledge, notice the difference it makes to them as it defogs their minds and brings about clarity and focus. It also actually protects the auric field.
What are the greatest Ayurvedic beauty tips you have learned?
Not to use abrasive soaps on the face. Always use natural cleansers or gels. Use a gentle scrub to exfoliate facial skin as well as body skin at least once a week. Facial packs made of ubtans (herbal powders) in besin flour and turmeric is ideal.
For wedding ceremonies in India traditional rituals of haldi ceremony is followed which is an ancient Ayruveda beauty ritual where haldi and besin flour packs are applied on the whole body and then rubbed off, acting as an exfoliant as well. It gives a glow to the skin and makes it smooth and tender followed by oil applications.
The oil blends act on the mind, body and emotions as well, getting rid of fear and anxiety. Emotional wellbeing is very much a part of beauty, because when you feel good you look good. Your skin is the largest organ of the body and it reflects how you feel, and it is the best diagnostic tool for beauty and health. The colour and texture of the skin says it all.
Beauty radiates from within so you need to dress your body inside out with rich body blends and double creams, as due to air conditioning and heaters and being indoors in these unnatural conditions even young skin dries up and gets dehydrated.
Drinking liqiuds, having an alkaline diet, doing self massages every day, exercise, yoga, walks, having a moderate balanced lifestyle all play a very important role in Ayurveda beauty and health.
Best Ayurveda self-care rituals are…
One example of a dinacharya (daily routine) would be the application of black seed sesame as soon as you wake up in the morning with a glass of warm to hot water. Holding of black seed sesame in the mouth as explained earlier called ‘pulling’ will help the gums and teeth, enhance antibodies and eliminate toxins. Give yourself the option of adding ginger, fresh lime and honey. If you are too busy, just have the hot water, which will dilate your channels and scrape off the toxins.
Another simple way is to go for a walk or do yoga or meditation, whatever one can fit in or enjoys doing. Immediately after, take a shower, through Self Abhyang (self-massage) the Aama (toxins) come to the surface and then through the steam of the shower the Aama skin pores open up and the Aama is washed off. Subtle Energies has a beautiful hair oil, our Indian Hair Care blend, which we recommend people use at least once or twice a week or it can be applied lightly to the hair and scalp overnight.
We also believe in aromatic dressing after showering as a simple way to restore the self, using an Ayurveda Aromatherapy blend to suit your mood or activity for the day. This could be uplifting if going for a meeting or relaxing if you need to unwind, or balancing if you are feeling out of sorts. The blend will not only act as a moisturiser, but will work on the body, mind and the emotions
What does our skin need on a day-to-day basis?
Maintaining a healthy balance between hydration, rejuvenation, purification and remembering the age-old Ayurveda philosophy: “What one cannot eat, one should not put on the skin, as the skin is the largest organ that eats.“
What are the best ingredients for most people?
There are some ingredients that are tri doshic by nature and are suited for a lot of people but of course we are all individual so there is no straight answer here. Mogra, which is a euphoric active ingredient, is also known as the Queen of Jasmines. It is a rare type of Jasmine that is known for its cell renewal benefits, promotes collagen synthesis, and assists with pigmentation. But Mogra is also known as the ‘oil of joy’ helps one de-stress and is extremely beneficial for anxiety, sleep and emotional balance, hence being a great ingredient for most people. Black Seed Sesame is another ingredient that is beneficial for a lot of people, its high Vitamin A & E content make it a potent antioxidant and help to absorb Vitamin D. It is also a very nurturing base for a lot of our massage oils. Black Seed Sesame is known as a Yogahava, which means it has the ability to unite its properties with whatever you have blended it with, eg you infuse it with a cooling herb such as Brahmi and the Black Seed Sesame will become cooling or infuse it with astringent oils such as Lime and Tulasi and the blend will become more purifying and astringent.
What were the first steps when starting your skincare business?
As the work of the clinic progressed, where all the initial clinical work and research was carried out with these oils, I began teaching and eventually the courses received accreditation as a Diploma in Ayurveda Aromatherapy. In 2002, Bina and Samir Patel, founders and directors of Jiva spas, approached us together with Anna Bjurstam, and this marked the beginning of our work with destination spas creating their signature blends for Jiva. As Jiva grew into more Taj properties, the development of our own brand progressed and evolved. In 2010, under the direction of my son Nick and daughter Khursheed, we launched our skincare brand in a format that was conducive to the spa industry, allowing our work in the art of blending to grow through our partners. This comprised of newly developed skincare, packaging and a spa treatment range into our branded offering.