AMY CHRISTIANSEN SI-AHMED
“Ayurveda to me represents balance. I have a deep appreciation for Ayurvedic principles and wisdom because I feel it addresses the core imbalances in one’s physical, emotional and spiritual self and seeks to remedy that on a profound level.”
Amy Christiansen is a social worker who spent 20 years in the non-profit sector working and living in New York, the Middle East and London before becoming a social impact entrepreneur. She views luxury business as an opportunity to create systemic social change. Amy founded Sana Jardin, the world’s first socially conscious luxury fragrance house which sits at the intersection of social impact, luxury and the economic empowerment of women. Sana Jardin is also the force behind the Beyond Sustainability™ movement, which powers tangible and measurable impact for low-income women through commerce rather than charity, by giving them tools to upcycle floral waste into their own line of products. nationally, Sana Jardin has been featured in Vogue, The New York Times Harper’s Bazaar and retails at Harrod’s, Harvey Nichols and Liberty.
Amy holds a master’s in social work and has served as an advisor to the Clinton Foundation and Cherie Blair’s Foundation for Women. She currently sits on the Advisory Board of NEST, a non- profit committed to the advancement of global artisans, is a Trustee for the Elisa Sednaoui Foundation and is a member of the British Fashion Council Fashion Trust.
“[AYURVEDA] is a miracle cure to balance the mind and spirit and promote joy.”
What does Ayurveda mean to you?
Ayurveda to me represents balance. I have a deep appreciation for Ayurvedic principles and wisdom because I feel it addresses the core imbalances in one’s physical, emotional and spiritual self and seeks to remedy that on a profound level. What I find particularly intriguing and powerful about Ayurveda is its mystical roots — the classical Ayurveda texts tell the story of the transmission of medical knowledge from the Gods to sages, and then to human physicians. Ayurvedic therapies have evolved over the last 2,000 years but are rooted in alchemy – the mixing of healing herbs and minerals.
When did you discover it? How long have you been practising it?
I had the good fortune of accidentally discovering Ayurveda when I was briefly living in Dubai in 2003. I happened upon a magical Ayurvedic practitioner at a beauty spa in Dubai whose name is Sreela. She is from a multi-generational line of Ayurvedic healers from Kerala, India – the birthplace of Ayurveda. She could look at your essence, your aura, your tongue, pulse and feel your skin and know precisely what was deeply misaligned with you on every level. She has done multiple Panchakarma treatments (a detoxification treatment to cleanse and rejuvenate the body, mind and consciousness) on me in Dubai over the years and also has stayed with me in Marrakech for treatments. Her wisdom is warm, deep, loving and healing.
What drew you to Ayurveda?
I leapt into it fully without knowing what to expect. I found it intriguing without having any wisdom on the subject and became a convert! I was looking to heal my insomnia, bouts with emotional challenges and silly things like looking to detox for vanity purposes!
Has it helped you with anything major?
Absolutely. It is my miracle cure whenever I feel out of balance and also need to detoxify my body, mind and spirit. Panchakarma treatments, Triphala (an herbal remedy comprised of three Ayurvedic superfruits so you can more efficiently absorb nutrients) and Ashwagandha (an herb that relaxes the nervous system) have helped me with insomnia, hormone imbalances, detoxification, rejuvenation and to make me feel 20 years younger and blissfully happy!
Is Ayurveda part of your everyday life or just for your medicine cabinet or fall-back routine?
I am embarrassed to admit that I use Ayurvedic herbs as a tool to re-centre and unfortunately do not practise it enough on a daily basis. I try to do a Panchakarma cleanse every year but it becomes increasingly difficult to find the time. I also engage in Pranayama (breath work that focuses on Prana – the life force that flows through all of us). I find when I do this routine I feel more focused, optimistic, centred, happy and my skin and eyes glow.
What are your top 3 Ayurvedic tips that have worked for you?
Bikram yoga is a miracle worker for me to detox and feel centred and calm, taking Triphala powder consistently makes me feel as light as a feather and 10 years younger and blissfully happy, and chakra balancing exercises connect me both to the earth and the spirit.
What surprised you most about Ayurveda?
How blissed out I feel after I finish a Panchakarma treatment. I am truly in a state of pure joy.
Do your children/family eat an Ayurvedic diet? And if they do, do they know it’s Ayurveda or do they just think of it as home cooking?
My sons (age 11 and 6) eat dahl and chick peas with Indian spices but, sadly, that is the extent of their Ayurvedic adventures!
What is your favourite Ayurvedic recipe or go-to ingredient?
Cinnamon, without a doubt. It helps to balance blood sugar and I have at least a spoonful of cinnamon every single day of my life! I also consume mass amounts of hot water with lemon.
How does Ayurveda fit into your day-to-day routines?
I wake every morning and focus on balancing my chakras. I visualise a swirling balls of energy with the corresponding colours for each of the 7 chakras, working my way up from the root chakra (Muladhara) to my favorites – the heart chakra, third eye chakra and the crown chakra (Sahasrara) which connects us to the universe and the infinite possibilities for our being. I wish I was more disciplined with the Ayurvedic diet and herbal remedies, but I am not. I have grand aspirations of taking Triphala daily and brushing my tongue every morning but – I don’t.
What do you wish was easier in our society to make an Ayurvedic lifestyle more accessible?
Absolutely! I recognise that I need to make much more of an effort to put healthier food into my body – but if I could wave my magic wand I would have the ability to do Panchakarma every few months! It is frustrating that it is so time-consuming and requires an enormous time commitment that often means travelling abroad.
What’s the one thing you would encourage everyone to try or you think would benefit the majority of people’s health for the better?
A Panchakarma cleanse, Triphala, and drinking hot water with lemon in the morning.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I remember doing yoga on the beach in Miami and meeting a woman who was as equally enchanted with Ayurveda as I was. We were discussing the power of the earth beneath our bare feet and I will always remember that she said “Who needs a psychiatrist when you have Ayurveda!” So true, it is a miracle cure to balance the mind and spirit and promote joy.