The founder of UMA Oils, Shrankhla Holecek, has been immersed in the traditions of Ayurveda since childhood, a natural medical system that originated in India and is over 5000 years old. She grew up in India where her ancestors were Ayurvedic doctors for the Indian royal family. For centuries they have been growing the best organic vegetable oils in the world on their farms in central India.
Courtesy of UMA Oils
“The word Ayurveda means ‘science of life,’ and that is exactly what it is,” explains Holecek. “It offers incredibly practical and intuitive advice on diet, exercise, and general lifestyle so you can thrive and be the best you can be. It encompasses not only science but philosophy as well, with the whole journey of life considered sacred. Ayurveda is based on a system of scientific and practical knowledge that is rooted in the ancient belief systems about the constitution of the human body and its close relationship with the environment in which it exists. “
Holecek was a consultant at McKinsey five years prior to launching her luxury beauty and wellness brand, UMA Oils, known for its luxury, low-volume products. When I ask why she left her company position to start her own company, she tells me it was not an easy decision. “Part of me feels like I always knew this was something I should be doing. However, the other part of me was also so pleased to be a consultant, working with the amazing people I’ve made and on some incredibly challenging problems. ”
“I think I longed for such“ earthy roots ”in India, and longed for the tangibility of products and product-driven businesses,” continues Holecek. “More importantly, I think there was an element of the universe’s conspiracy as the chatter about organic, clean and healthy living – arguably the core values of Ayurveda – grew louder by the day. I really had the feeling that with UMA we could create something valuable that would affect many lives in a positive way and also help to understand Ayurveda, what can change health, wellness and beauty so profoundly. “Holecek made Uma Oils a full-time job in 2016 when she officially launched the brand.
Founder of UMA Oils, Shrankhla Holecek
Once you get your hands on the brand’s products and learn their contents, you know that love is the main ingredient. I attribute this in part to the fact that the raw materials come from Holecek’s organic family farms, where every ingredient is tenderly cared for. Holecek tells me, “Reputation and word of mouth are incredibly important and we were fortunate enough to receive early international awards from connoisseurs (such as famous perfumers), particularly for oils like jasmine, vetiver and sandalwood, which are specialties of the Indian subcontinent. Over the past few decades we’ve supplied custom ingredients to some of the biggest names in perfumery and beauty. “
Their family farms grow approximately 500 acres of essential oil ingredients, which can range from flowers, roots, grasses, and trees, with approximately 100 acres devoted to use in UMA products. “Many of our farms have been family-owned for centuries, although there are other areas that we have been managing more recently as we geographically consolidate our operations to be efficient and reduce our transportation costs.”
A team of dedicated caretakers selects only the best seeds and takes care of the plants during the growing season. “While many plant breeders harvest the same plant multiple times to produce as much oil as possible, at Uma we do not harvest each plant more than twice before transplanting as we have learned that the first two harvests produce the highest quality essential oils that theirs Effectiveness decreases after the second harvest, ”explains Holecek. “This leads to a lower yield, but far superior oils. Once the plants have moved from the meadow to the factory, they are greeted by a team of skilled technicians and extractors who guide the plants through the distillation process. The factory itself is uniquely self-sufficient and environmentally friendly and has innovative machines that convert waste products back into reusable fuel. This enables us to work with minimal reliance on external energy resources, leaving the smallest footprint. “
Courtesy of UMA Oils
Courtesy of UMA Oils
Sustainability is the core of UMA Oils. “Ayurveda philosophies govern all practices within UMA’s product life cycle, from our cultivation methods to the actual formulas in our products,” explains Holecek. “According to Ayurveda, there is a close relationship between humans and the universe in which we exist, with nature being a key element and has long been held in a place of awe. Ayurveda dictates that we give back in equal parts what we take from the environment, a mantra that we follow closely. “
Holecek continues, “It’s always important to consider the communities that are just as important to sustaining when thinking about preserving the environment. Especially since the ability of the municipalities to adopt environmentally compatible perspectives leads to real effects. UMA has a long history of providing safe and decent jobs for women and takes great pride in the fact that local women make up over 50% of its workforce. From the very beginning and as a pioneer of its time, the UMA has offered men and women equal pay for the same work. In a country where unfortunately gender discrimination is too often the norm, the UMA’s progressive stance on gender equality sends a strong, positive message that past injustices will no longer be tolerated.
Self-love is arguably the most important principle of Ayurveda. “It enables you not only to gain a deeper understanding of your uniqueness and the strength of a strong gift individuality, but also to strengthen the natural intuition through which listening to your body – real listening – can help you be the healthiest, most vital and becoming the most balanced version of yourself that you can be, ”explains Holecek. “Traditional methods of showing self-love can range from massaging yourself to respecting the needs of the body – like going to sleep when told to, eating nutritious foods, and practicing emotionally / spiritually healthy habits. I really believe that much of the answers we are looking for are already within us. We just have to learn to listen to ourselves again. “
Courtesy of UMA Oils
Given the ongoing pandemic and recent studies that have confirmed many of the Ayurvedic immunity support practices, I thought it would be interesting to use Holecek to get some helpful tips anyone can do at home for good health to strengthen his immune system. Because the UMA oil formulations used in the practices below are based on ancient formulations that were once only used for kings, we can now all experience the royal treatment from the comfort of our own home.
One of the most powerful elements of drybrushing is its ability to stimulate the lymphatic system. In short, the lymphatic system acts as an important fluid barrier against illness and disease, protecting the body from foreign objects, toxins or other contaminants. Since the firm, stimulating movements of dry brushing promote the flow of oxygen and blood, the flow and drainage of the lymph is also promoted, which enables healthy blood flow and the necessary release of toxins. In addition to promoting general health and releasing toxins, a stimulated and active lymphatic system has been shown to reduce swelling and inflammation.
In Ayurveda, the mouth is viewed as a meaningful reflection of the health of the body. Because the mouth is a place where bacteria, toxins, and other contaminants reside, our oral hygiene is closely related to our overall health. As various studies show, the practice of oil pulling creates antioxidants that pull the lipid layers of bacterial cell membranes into the oil, blocking bacterial growth and plaque build-up. As a result, the toxins and contaminants in our mouth – or ama – can be removed from the body once the oil is spat out. In Ayurvedic tradition, oil is drawn in the morning before brushing your teeth.
For as long as I can remember, in addition to brushing my teeth, I dutifully scraped my tongue. In the Ayurvedic tradition, tongue scraping is an extremely simple practice that has a huge impact on our health: it removes the contaminants on the tongue that could otherwise lead to more serious health problems. While we sleep, a combination of food, bacteria, fungi, and other toxins accumulate in our tongue. Without proper care, these impurities – or ama – can be reabsorbed into the body, causing problems as diverse as digestive problems, acne, or bad breath. Tongue scratching can fight and prevent the negative effects of accumulation – a study shows this Ayurvedic practice improves bad breath and removes harmful coatings on the tongue.
Triphala is an ancient blend of Bibhitaki, Amalaki and Haritaki, three organic fruits native to India that are known for their balancing, cleansing and nourishing properties. Triphala is a versatile herbal remedy that is used for various ailments, including digestive problems. Research shows that it can help promote internal cleansing, healthy, regular bowel movements, and tissue nourishment. Some experts suggest that it has adaptogenic benefits. Triphala is also considered a general Ayurvedic Rasayana to aid body functions and promote general vitality, longevity, and health. It is included in our Digestive Detox Triphala Herbal Supplement.
In Ayurveda, hot or warm water is preferred over ice-cold water, as it is believed to provide more moisture to our body and tissues. Warm or hot water helps flush out toxins (or excess ama), aid in organ hydration, and aid in lymphatic drainage. Drinking freshly boiled water, especially with the addition of lemon, first thing in the morning and before eating helps stimulate healthy digestion and soften hardened foods. Cold water has been shown to interfere with this process.