Atop a beautiful mountain in the Pacific Palisades, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with a distant view of the Santa Monica Pier, there is a private utopia called Surya Spa. I have never had an experience quite like this. The treatments take you away to another place. Whether it be the 4 hands hot oil massage, or their rejuvenating facials, Surya relaxes you in a way that is unparalleled, and I truly did not want to leave.
It’s the best retreat, particularly for mothers to step away and feel completely refreshed. They have the most incredible food, and prepare a healthy, nutritious lunch, that complements their treatments to perfection. This would be the ultimate mother/daughter getaway, and best present you could ever give a pregnant woman for during pregnancy in preparation for delivery, as well as postpartum to promote healing and boost immunity. Martha, who has studied Transcendental Meditation, and is devoted to the roots of Ayurveda, creates personalized oils for each client, so the experience is always unique. This feature was by far my favorite experience to date, and I hope you all get an opportunity to go try it.
How many years have you been in business in LA?
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
I learned the core of traditional Ayurveda from the Transcendental Meditation group in Fairfield, Iowa, over 25 years ago. I came from Colombia to study something entirely different — Computer Science. But during those first Fall and Winter months, an incredibly cold winter for a young woman who’d never seen snow, I also saw a steady stream of glowing people coming from a certain building, and I had to know what went on in that building. As it turned out, the people leaving that building were doing Panchakarma, a series of treatments that nourish, detoxify, rebalance and rejuvenate — and I’d never seen anything like what I saw in their faces.
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
Our treatments, while traditional, are highly personalized and deeply nourishing. A lot of healing and transformation comes from the nourishment and love, from the profound and sustained care. For example, everyone’s oils are individually herbalized and cooked all night long, every night, for every guest. That same personalized attention goes into every detail of every treatment. We are also devoted to the roots of Ayurveda, the authentic core that came from the purest sources, and has proved to effective time and again, not just across my few decades, but across millennium. What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options? I think it’s that because our Ayurveda is authentic and personalized, people get results. The results create word of mouth and a clientele that naturally returns. The results also create longevity for clients, but that’s not what you were asking!
How do you positively impact your clientele?
We guide them with better (and still enjoyable) eating habits. With easy home routines. With effortless meditation. With transformative therapies. With a taste of transcendence, that often happens spontaneously and beautifully during some of the therapies. I’m always amazed by how much people’s lives are impacted — health enhanced, mind in balance, skin glowing, weight lost, all of that, yes, but also, the feeling of being restored, of coming back to themselves, and all the positive changes that follow from that…
What is your favorite part of your job?
Two parts: seeing people transform after a single four-hour treatment and really transform after a week of treatments, and I mean transform their entire life; and, helping women get pregnant, have a wonderful pregnancy, a wonderful birth, and a beautiful six-weeks of restorative treatments after birth. Oh, and teaching the new parents how to do an Ayurvedic baby massage on their wonderful new baby.
What is your favorite secret LA spot?
Okay, I’ll give you one. At the very top of Chautauqua Blvd., in Pacific Palisades, is a trailhead that’s never crowded, and buries you in nature right away. You have to park a bit below a gate, and walk on a little trail on the right to get around it. If you keep hiking, you’ll get great views, yes, but once you’re on the mountain, it’s that instant enveloping that I love. I also wildcraft herbs there, and use them to make some of our oils. The car smells so good on the way back!
How do you benefit mommys?
Back to one of my favorite parts of my “job.” There’s so many women we meet who can’t get pregnant, or who can, but want to maximize the conception. Ayurveda loves this area, and is hugely helpful. The owner of some great westside restaurants tried everything Western medicine had to offer, and sadly, had no success. She finally came to Surya and gave us 30 days, in which she said she’d do anything we suggested. At the end of 30 days, she was pregnant, and now has three wonderful children, and one of their restaurants was named after their first child! We also help pregnant women with three different trimester treatments, good for both them and the growing baby. And finally, we go to new mothers’ homes the day after birth, and do six weeks of Mother Baby treatments, for up to six days a week. We cook a meal for the mother and father, help with diet in general, lactation, and in general, through the treatments, balance their hormones and health. It’s one of the most beautiful things that Ayurveda has to offer.
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
I love it when clients come back from doctors with test results numbers are right back where they should be, and the doctors say to our clients: “I don’t know what you’re doing, but keep doing it!” I love it when women who couldn’t get pregnant, have beautiful children and I get hold those babies. I love it when chronic pain finally vanishes. We all love it when a client comes back and says that whatever they’re were suffering from, or have been suffering from for a long time, whatever it is, is gone. That’s hugely fulfilling, and such a beautiful gift of Ayurveda.
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field:
In Santa Fe, Dr. Ladd, a brilliant educator. In San Jose, Dr. Jayarajayin, who so happily shares his knowledge, especially around the hands-on creation of ancient Ayurvedic formulations. In India, Dr. Raju, an amazing pulse reader and well-rounded Ayurvedic doctor, who leads a particularly good clinic in New Delhi.
What is the best advice anyone's ever given you? Or what is your "mantra" / words to live by?
To forgive each other and forgive ourselves, to love each other and love ourselves, and to be at peace with each other and at peace with ourselves. That alone can cure so many diseases and problems.
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving trick?
Not to be too clever, and you’ll know what I mean, but the best time-saving trick for me is to stop doing all the things I have to do… and meditate. I love TM, so simple, no dogma, just twenty minutes twice a day and I’m recharged, and more in tune with things. Not only do I get more done, but when I’m really in tune, in the flow, things I want to accomplish sometimes seem to happen almost automatically. That’s the best time-saving trick of all… to put ourselves in harmony and balance with the world around us, so that we’re not only playing Nature’s song, but Nature is playing ours. And that return balance just happens to be the goal of Ayurveda, itself.