Farida Irani On How Subtle Energies Created Ayurveda Aromatherapy

A blend of aromatherapy and Ayurvedic healing philosophies, Subtle Energies has been combining two of the hottest wellness trends of 2019 long before it was cool. Farida Irani—Indian-born and now Australian-based—launched the pioneering company back in the ’90s in a response to a rising rate of burnout she was seeing in corporate office culture, and now utilises over 25 years of wellness expertise and research to provide Ayurveda aromatherapy products for both clinical and personal use. Compare Retreats chats to Faradi on what Ayurvedic aromatherapy is and how she maintains balance in the family business. 

Subtle Energies, Farida Irani, ayurveda, aromatherapy, ayurvedic aromatherapy
Farida Irani | Image courtesy of Subtle Energies

Tell us a bit about yourself. What was your life like before Subtle Energies? I was born in India of Zoroastrian ancestry. Not many people know who we are. The Indians call us ‘Parsees’, meaning from Parsia or Persia. I have lived in three, four countries in my lifetime, growing up in India, living in Iran in the ’70s as the Shah invited our community from India back, only to leave during the revolution for Dubai where we lived during the ’80s, and then eventually migrating to Australia in 1988. I began my career in the corporate world as an accountant. During my time in Australia 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. 

How did Subtle Energies get started? Subtle Energies began well before the brand as you know it. It started 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

I wanted to do something that could complement conventional medicine. My spiritual journey through my Masters, my connection with my father and my grandparents coming from the ancient Zoroastrian philosophy, were all motivating factors. My previous experience in the corporate world helps me to treat busy professionals, as I can understand what they are experiencing, in their fast-paced lifestyles.

See also: The Best Luxury Ayurvedic Retreats In India

Can you explain what Ayurvedic Aromatherapy is for someone who might not have heard of it before? Ayurveda Aromatherapy is based on the combination of authentic Ayurveda philosophy and principles utilised in blending rare and potent essential oils, most of which are not known in the western aromatherapy world and are from the Vedic pharmacy. Ayurveda does not use Aromatherapy and Essential oils as we do in Ayurveda Aromatherapy. The essential oils are 70 to 100 times stronger than the plant itself, and you get the added benefit of the pleasing aroma. The treatments incorporate diverse and skilled techniques, harnessing the finest traditional Ayurveda methods with modern massage techniques, such as remedial, reflexology and lymphatic drainage, combined with an emphasis on the Marmas, creating authentic, results-based holistic healing experiences. In Australia, our teaching is recognised as a separate science to Ayurveda and Aromatherapy, where you can achieve a nationally recognised qualification as a Diploma in Ayurveda Aromatherapy which I have authored and teach through our college.

Subtle Energies, Farida Irani, ayurveda, aromatherapy, ayurvedic aromatherapy
Image courtesy of Subtle Energies

How has Subtle Energies changed over the years? What changes have you seen in the wellness industry as a whole? We have definitely grown in terms of our packaging and marketing of the brand. The skincare brand was created much later, through partnerships with natural skincare chemists in Australia, producing skincare at a European standard level. Our messaging has been more refined to the consumer to make it easier to access what is best for them. The wellness industry is growing at an exponential rate, and with a lot that is emerging, we are seeing that people are searching for what is authentic in its deliverance. This is where the crossroads of our journey meets perfectly to where the wellness industry is heading towards, that is people are looking for authenticity.

Subtle Energies is a family business. How do you stop your work-life seeping into your personal, and vice-versa? Being a small family business and working together sometimes can be overwhelming as we all have our input in the business, but the end result is so gratifying: it’s our combined efforts and energy which makes it all happen.

We try to maintain a balance by taking time out to enjoy with our family as a family, not just as colleagues. We do tend to have healthy, sometimes volatile, debates. My family members are my best critics and I am grateful to them: we are all learning from each other and are very vocal as a team.

I think it’s the element of total love and implicit trust, which keeps us all together, and much joy comes out of the passion and integrity we have for both our work and for our family. We are fortunate to have good people working with us who we can rely on, which takes a lot of pressure off our heads at times. Above all else, there is nothing more satisfying than knowing that through our work we have touched the lives of many, when we get positive feedbacks through our clinical work, our trainings and sharing our products with those who need them on a therapeutic level.

Subtle Energies, Farida Irani, ayurveda, aromatherapy, ayurvedic aromatherapy
Image courtesy of Subtle Energies

What kind of person is Subtle Energies products suited for? While it’s very much suited for those looking for natural and pure skincare formulations, it is a highly active range suited for those with various physical and emotional concerns as well. With benefits ranging from detoxification, boosting adrenal fatigue, repairing damaged and polluted skin, addressing sleep issues, and empowering on a physical, emotional and hormonal level.

See also: COMO Shambhala Estate’s Ayurveda Retreat Takes Personalisation To The Next Level

What products are available at Subtle Energies? We have a broad range from facial skincare to body products and therapeutic blends. In the beginning prior to the spa line being created, it was only our aromatic prescription blends which is what we had a following for. With the launch of the brand in 2010, we developed a targeted series of active skincare solutions as well. We have more recently launched our programme prescription kits, which are a series of products based on our clinical experience designed for various lifestyle benefits. The Facial Blend is still my most loved product: 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.

How is Subtle Energies adding to the wellness movement in the Asia-Pacific region? As the wellness movement is Asia Pacific has moved towards providing full lifestyle options, we have been able to incorporate our expertise in complementary medicine into our treatment programmes and retail offering. Drawing on our clinical research and education background, our clinical work has taught us a large amount and allows us to educate spa teams to inform their clientele further giving them tools that provide effective and sustained results and that allow one to feel empowered on a daily basis. This is not just limited to the spa environment: we are also working with unique retailers such as Joyce Beauty in Hong Kong to provide lifestyle solutions from that perspective.

Subtle Energies, Farida Irani, ayurveda, aromatherapy, ayurvedic aromatherapy
Image courtesy of Subtle Energies

How do you incorporate Ayurveda and aromatherapy into your daily life? I have a daily discipline which starts when I get up in the morning: I apply my prescription oils, go for a walk, do a meditation and have a shower. After that, I do my oil ritual again, because the oils used prior to the heat from the shower open the pores, so the toxins can flow out. The oils post-shower penetrate deep into the bloodstream and have an active effect. I also do an oil-pulling with black seed sesame oil. Throughout the day, I apply what I call my ‘Elixir of Youth’ — our Facial Blend.

What is an interesting routine that you do daily that sets you up for success? I follow the guided meditations, pranayamas and lessons on self-realization which includes the practice of Kriya Yoga and scientific affirmations as taught by my Guru Paramahansa Yoganada and the SRF lineage of masters. When I meditate, it is not about just sitting for one hour. It is about letting the thoughts flow and becoming an observer. If you can spend just five minutes doing that, instead of spending an hour with a million things going through your mind, then you will benefit on a vast level. The energising techniques as given by Paramahansa Yogananda are equally beneficial on all levels. Our ancient Zoroastrian mantras play a big part in achieving a harmonious centred lifestyle. This practice is critical to my success. Practising Hatha yoga and walking in the forest right across the road from me also help in maintaining a balance. Doing an aromatic dressing daily with the use of our potent blends and following a healthy diet certainly helps in maintaining a mind-body-soul connection.

Find out more about Subtle Energies here.

Rebecca Cairns

Editor & CCO

Hong Kong-based Rebecca Cairns is the editor for Compare Retreats, and has formerly written on travel and wellness with Hong Kong Tatler and The Culture Trip. As a NASM-certified personal trainer, Becca is interested in all things fitness. An avid runner, she enjoys running 5K, 10K and 21K races and is currently training for her first marathon. When she's not travelling, she's planning her next trip, taking hikes to the beach or scribbling away in boutique coffee shops. You can follow her travels on Instagram @jetsetcreate.

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