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The 8 Ball: Martha Soffer of Surya

Martha Soffer

Surya, lead by Ayurvedic Guru Martha Soffer, seeks to nurture, heal and support through natural products, programs, education, and services including the Surya Spa in California. Martha Soffer is an internationally acclaimed Ayurvedic doctor, chef, and herbalist. Surya aims to honor the traditions and timeless wisdom of Ayurveda by making its principles accessible and modern. Don't we all want our face oil and face cream made meticulously and lovingly by hand, bathed in moonlight? In this conversation with Martha we take a dive into all things Surya and Ayurveda. 

Martha, please introduce yourself to our Covet + Lou community. Can you share a little bit about what you do?

I do Ayurveda! What I actually do, with about 40 wonderful women at Surya, is offer a modern, accessible, and practical version of Ayurveda’s comprehensive system of well-being that began 10,000 years ago, when some elite yogis wanted to have the longest and most vital life they could, on what they viewed as this precious earth. So, at the spa, we give beautiful and transformative treatments and Panchakarma wellness series that last 3-28 days, where two therapists work on you in synchrony, and all your treatment oils are herbalized and cooked all night long, every day, for every client.

In our product world, we have created bottled versions of the same oils and creams we use at the spa, so we can spread the goodness of Ayurveda to a much larger part of the population than just those we see at the spa.

What came first, the Surya line or the Surya spa? Can you tell us about the spa?

The spa came first. I started in a little one-bedroom guest house in a canyon in Pacific Palisades. Pretty soon, the whole house because the Ayurvedic clinic, and remained like that for many years, and then another house, and another, and it was decades before we moved into Proper Hotel in Santa Monica. The products are the product of all those years of treatments, made available widely now, but literally the same — no chemicals, no short cuts, the real Ayurvedic deal.

We could spend our entire time together for this blog post speaking about Ayurveda, but maybe you can give our community a small overview? Especially for those who are not familiar.

Ayurveda sees everyone as made up of three main elements— fire, wind/air, and the solidity of earth/water. We’re all unique, but at any time, any one of these “doshas” can get out of balance. When that happens, when we find, for example, that we’re irritable, getting angry at people, or have a skin rash, then our fire element, our Pitta, has got aggravated and we need to cool down, emotionally and physically.

In general, we help people take a moment to feel what’s happening to them: do we need to cool down, calm down, or energize? And even though we might be born one way, any of our doshas can become out of balance at any time. If we don’t take care of that, the unease we feel can turn into disease, and that’s what Ayurveda helps prevent. We’re all not only connected to nature, but we’re literally part of it. We’re effected by it. And as we come back into balance, we find ourselves in tune with nature, moving with nature, and we just start to feel rejuvenated and good.

Can you speak more to the doshas in Ayurveda? Should we be choosing certain products based on our individual dosha?

Like I was saying, more important than our doshic makeup is, what are our current imbalances? That simple assessment of the moment— did I have a crazy day/week/month at work with so much happening, and am I feeling overwhelmed and scattered? If so, this is a time to calm down, and that happens through lifestyle, and diet suggestions (like warm, cooked, nourishing food), and yes, the products we make are often divided into Calming, Cooling, Energizing, so you can pick what you need on any day.

Your entire line is so thoughtful and beautiful, but I am particularly interested in your Balancing Collagen Cream and Balancing Face Oil. The ingredients are incredible, and after trying for myself, so effective too. What makes these two products so special?

These are great. I’m so glad you like them! They’re good for all skin types, all people, as they’re designed to be tridoshic, or all-balancing. They’re both hugely herbalized, and the potency of those herbs is maximized with the old ways: we do three consecutive extractions— water, oil, and lactic (where we use cow’s, goat’s, and camel’s milk). We play vedic mantras during the five-day process, and finish the products with moonlight. One stage of the face oil is actually an ingredient in the collagen cream!

Are the Collagen Cream and Face Oil the first products you formulated?

I think the body oils were first because they were the bases of what we used on clients. We soak you in oils and herbs when you come to the spa. You are just covered! But the collagen cream is especially an original product, in that it started with my grandmother’s recipe, rich in lanolin, and to that, over the years, I added more and more of Ayurvedic goodness, until it because an amazing effective, literally healing, and wonderfully rejuvenative cream...

Surya Kansa Wand

What happens to our skin when we use the Kansa Wand? What are the Kansa Wand’s origins?

Our exclusively-designed Kansa Wand has healing bronze on each end, and it’s our go-to skincare facial and body tool. Thermally and electrically conductive, the Kansa Wand revitalizes and invigorates skin, and feels great on the face. Warmed, it increases circulation to create a natural, radiant glow; chilled, it reduces puffiness for revitalized skin. It’s a great applicator for the Collagen Cream and Face Oil.

Kansa itself is known as the “skin healing metal.” It’s an alloy of copper and tin that’s been used in Ayurveda for millennium to balance our doshas and beautify our appearance. It pulls acidic toxins from the body, rejuvenates skin cells, balances our skin’s PH, increases circulation, and really helps with the glow!

Your advice to those who are looking to live, heal, and better themselves holistically?

Favor the good and avoid the bad! That’s Ayurveda’s core. Take a moment to see how you’re feeling, and learn how to stay in balance, cool down, calm down, or energize. Learn what foods and products and lifestyle supports that. Maybe start with a little meditation. I love TM (Transcendental Meditation), which I do every day twice a day for 20 minutes— that balances you from deep within. And try to practice happiness, instead of just pursuing it— there’s so much we have around us already. Ayurveda means “wisdom of life,” and helps us come home, to our own nature, and to the often unspoken goodness of the natural world.

Discover Surya at Covet + Lou.