"Have an Ayurvedic consultation even if you are not sick. It's probably the best hour you will spend finding out about yourself from an Ayurvedic perspective. That information can then be used as a tool to lead a fulfilling healthy life, achieve your dreams, and find your perfect balance and health."
Loretta Heywood is an intuitive healer in every sense. Following a fast-paced life as a model in Tokyo in the '80s, in 1991 Loretta began her own journey into healing as a singer-songwriter for Bomb the Bass. Stepping aside from the pressures of the music industry in 2000 and having used Ayurveda to help herself during this time, in 2001 Heywood refocused her attention and took time out to study Ayurveda therapies and holistic lifestyle counselling, gaining various qualifications in healing, Panchakarma and Ayurvedic medicine.
Since 2002, Loretta works as an Ayurvedic consultant/therapist in London. She has consolidated her experiences by bringing together the power of sound and touch to facilitate the empowering of individuals to bring change into their lives, through her individualised coaching methods.
Her consultations take a 360-degree look at every aspect of your life and health issues. She has helped many people find answers to how best to live a healthier life, and how to know themselves better according to Ayurveda.
"listen to your own body and what it's saying. We usually know the right thing for ourselves."
What does Ayurveda mean to you?
The translation of the word Ayurveda is "the knowledge of Life." This is what it means to me: a simple and fantastic tool to understand ourselves on every level — what makes us healthy and function to our best capacity and what doesn't. It really is the knowledge of life and of oneself.
When did you discover it?
In the early 1990s when I was a singer for a successful band and couldn't cope. I had had 9 years in Tokyo as a model turned performer prior to this, so I was already not fighting on all cylinders (I had a very high Vata scenario going on). I was thankfully led to Dr. Brennan at Maharashi Ayurveda, Transcendental Meditation and yoga when I really needed it in 1993.
Knowing what I know now, I see I had a Vata imbalance most of my adult life, and this was aggravated by a Vata-increasing lifestyle for years. As a consequence the other Doshas were pushed out of whack, until I reached a burnout breakdown point (probably for the tenth time without realising it, as I lived a very fast-paced life in Tokyo before moving back to London in the '90s). Then with a successful song in the charts and everything that goes with being in an industry like that, I simply couldn't cope. I had no reserves left or knowledge of what to do — Ayurveda was the life saver for me.
I was living a fast-paced, erratic life with a lot of stimulation, working nights as a singer and days as a model, etc., etc. It all upset my nervous system, which is primarily governed by Vata, and caused its spike for years, without my knowledge of what was going on. If only I had known then what I know now...
How long have you been practising it?
As a practitioner and therapist, since 2002, but I have been living with the application/awareness of it in my daily life since the day I saw Dr. Brennan in 1993.
What drew you to Ayurveda?
I came to it through yoga, self-discovery and my own spiritual quest for health and happiness. I had decided that I wanted to give up or take a break from working in music and needed a change in career in the late '90s, as I was also soon approaching 40. I really did not know which direction my life was going in, and reached another turning point, a mid-life crisis maybe. Ayurveda was the only other main interest/hobby I had — my sister, who worked in the beauty business, suggested I do an Ayurvedic marma massage course in 2000, so I could maybe get a job in Brighton as a therapist. She said people really sought out Ayurvedic massages, and I needed to find a job quickly.
At the time, I couldn't even begin to understand why I would want to give massages, but as I couldn't do anything other than write and sing songs, I thought, "oh well, I'll give it a go." The first day on the course, I loved it. I embraced it fully as a passion and Ayurvedic massage soon replaced music. I have never looked back — as soon as I had passed my exam in 2002, it quickly led to a job working with Massage Therapies, and to a remarkable ongoing journey of discovering Ayurveda in all its forms: diagnosis, consultations, holistic counselling and therapies.
I went to India in 2006 and undertook an intense course of Panchakarma, as this is what did and still interests me most, but felt I couldn't apply what I had learnt there to a Western world. I searched for the right course teacher and luckily I soon met Dr. Atreya Smith at the European Institute of Vedic Studies in 2007.
I was able to study with him during his last years of teaching in the UK, learning how to apply Ayurveda in the West through diagnosis, diet, lifestyle, herbs,detox, etc. This was followed by another intense study of Panchakarma with Ayurveda UK and various other diploma courses since. It's an ongoing learning process.
After years of working with people, I must say now that the best teachers are the clients I see, and everyone that comes through my door. I simply find how Ayurveda works with everyone's unique fine balance of Doshas, which is always fascinating. I learn something new every day.
Ayurveda is an ancient magical mind, body and spirit healthcare system thats available to all. It's also free: once you have the tools and knowledge, you can apply the principles to your everyday life.
Has it helped you with anything major?
Yes, being human and living in a modern world — I think that's probably about as major as I've found. Ayurveda helps me to understand myself (that's not an easy task (-: ).
Is Ayurveda part of your everyday life or just for your medicine cabinet or fall-back routine ?
It's in my everyday life on many levels. We can apply it every day it in every situation. I constantly observe myself and people... I constantly watch my food, thoughts and actions.
I now work in music again so I'm lucky to have 2 passions that give me joy and to have managed to find a way to do both and not get burnt out... I work a lot with different people In the industry, so having that understanding about people, I feel I've a secret tool for how to deal with personalities and understand them better.
If I feel uneasy doing anything, I now try to nip it in the bud quickly, whether it's an emotional or physical unease, using Ayurvedic principles and applying them to the specific situation.
It's also great to be able to very quickly find a remedy for most common complaints in your kitchen cupboard! I love referring to The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies by Vasant Lad.
What are your top 3 Ayurvedic tips that have worked for you?
Knowing how my thoughts affect my body, what makes me imbalanced and what re-balances me, but I'll never forget the first and best advice I ever got from Doctor Brennan at Maharashi Ayurveda when I was depleted and simply burnt out:
- Take a nap.
- Stay home and have a pyjama day once a week or whenever you can.
- Eat apple pie when needed, especially in the afternoon around 4pm (all top tips for MY style of Vata imbalance and how it was manifesting in 1993). I still use 1 and 2, but eating a lot of apple pie would not be so good anymore, as at 54 I can now swing very easily into a Kapha Imbalance!
What surprised you most about Ayurveda?
How simple it is and how easy to apply to our daily lives, and how the main principles for health as written down have not changed for 5,000 years.
As educators, practitioners and teachers of Ayurveda, I feel it's our job to help teach people how to integrate the simple principles into a modern Western world. It's not watering it down, it's about how to make it practical — to use in our daily lives (Jasmine also does this fantastically in her book). I'd say Ayurveda is the best self-help book/tool you can find.
Did you integrate it gradually or overnight for any particular reason?
It's still an everyday learning process of how to integrate it into my life. There is no secret pill for health — maintaining a happy healthy life, integrating principles daily in whatever way we can is most importantly a preventative method, which works and also acts as medicine when needed.
I enjoy what there is to enjoy, I pretty much can eat what I want and digest it all (strangely, bar quinoa?), yet through my years of Living with Ayurveda in my life, the best tool I have is to know how to get myself back into balance quickly OR how to prevent an excessive build-up of the Doshas or Ama (toxins).
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?
No children, but yes, my partner and I do eat this way as I prefer to cook at home rather than going out, but all in balance: we also enjoy a good takeaway!
What is your favourite Ayurvedic recipe or go-to ingredient?
Mung beans, Kitchari and Golden Milk.
How does Ayurveda fit into your day-to-day routines?
I like to think a daily Abhyanga/meditation and exercise. Alongside regular meals, these are the main tools I hope to keep as part of my routine to maintain health.
What do you wish was easier in our society to make an Ayurvedic lifestyle more accessible?
For GPs to allow us to treat/advise people on the NHS as part of the National healthcare system, even if not prescribing any herbs at all... Everyday Ayurveda if applied is not rocket science; a consultation can really help people understand themselves and find simple tools to help their lives and emotions. It's all about self-awareness and it would be great if this was offered alongside formal Western nutrition advice and counselling. Ayurveda looks at the entire body-mind system — it's probably the most comprehensive healthcare we can find to support people, and it can work alongside conventional medicine if needed.
Do people around you/in your circle of friends know about Ayurveda ?
I guess they do in their own way and know this is what I do aside from music. If they are sick or have a dilemma I always draw on it to help.
I actually am working now with an Ayurvedic company as an Ayurvedic health facilitator, whereby I go into people's homes and talk, to introduce Ayurveda to them and their friends in an informal fun, free way. It's called "An Ayurveda Experience at Home," and it's a good way to spread the word and introduce people to the basics.
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?
Whether you know about Ayurveda or not, listen to your own body and what it's saying. We usually know the right thing for ourselves. Or if you want to know more definitely what works for you and against, have an Ayurvedic consultation even if you are not sick. It's probably the best hour you will spend finding out about yourself from an Ayurvedic perspective. That information can then be used as a tool to lead a fulfilling healthy life, achieve your dreams, and find your perfect balance and health.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Yes, a very big thank you to Jasmine for her book! I discovered it in February after being in India and I've turned clients/friends onto it as a go-to book for fantastic recipes and general Ayurvedic knowledge, especially on digestion and what to eat, and I look forward to the next one!