WIse Woman Speaks: Interview with ALANA LAYNE GREENBERG
Its no coincidence that I first met Alana through her perfume. I remember the evening, visiting with my friend Cristiana in Lima.; I was completely drawn to her scent and commented on it right away. Cristiana jumped up and said ‘Oh, you would love my friend Alana and her perfumes, she’s into all the same things as you’. And then very generously gifted me the glass vile of Anjali Aromatics perfume, which I have loved and cherished ever since. I was delighted a year later when Alana contacted me about my Art of Detox training and an invitation to offer up the material to her students in New York.
Alana is a dynamic healer, yoga teacher, Ayurvedic practitioner and teacher and founder of Anjali Aromatics based in New York.
Next spring Alana is offering a 50-hour yoga teacher training called AYURVEDA FOR YOGA TEACHERS: EMBODYING THE INQUIRY OF SELF-HEALING and we will be presenting her students with the option of rounding out the intense study with my 8-hour ART OF DETOX training. I am extremely inspired by Alana’s work since she already feels like a distant sister, working so closely with essential oils in an Ayurvedic context, of course, sings to me.
The following is our long-distance interview, diving deeper into what plants makes her soul sing, food, medicine and a word to the yoga industry.
What are the daily Ayurvedic practices you feel have the biggest impact on your own wellbeing?
Daily practices (dinacharya) are vital yet, quite honestly, can be difficult to implement. Time is of the essence! So, I go for the simple and efficient. I scrape my tongue in the morning to rid myself of toxins that may have accumulated overnight. I oil-pull while showering (coconut oil in warmer months, sesame in winter), and then massage myself with organic oil after the shower (here I use an herb-infused oil for Vata). This Abhyanga helps me stay unctuous and for me serves as a form of self-love (in Sanskrit the words for oil and love are the same!) Once a week I treat myself to a scalp massage with Bhringaraj oil (to which I add Ylang Ylang and Rosemary essential oils). As you can see, oils are paramount in Ayurveda. I also drink Tulsi daily (see next question) and finish my day with Triphala, Ayurveda’s signature remedy that’s high in vitamin C and helps regulate detoxification. For me, Ayurveda is living a life of Bhakti Yoga. Once we have cultivated devotion toward ourselves, tending our inner garden, we can offer to others from a fuller reservoir.
What are the plants you feel to be most connected to your heart and soul?
Tulsi. She is the Queen of herbs. A wonderful blood cleanser and all-around tonic, I enjoy her energy every day. I also have an affinity for flowers. Rose, Neroli, Night Blooming Jasmine and Honeysuckle bring me to the domain of angels. Clary Sage is a feminine ally for me and my love for Sandalwood runs deep. There is so much intricacy that goes into harvesting Sandalwood and it is believed, according to ancient folklore, that it carries the medicine of forgiveness. Not enough room here, but it is a beautiful story of a sacred heartwood that involves Jupiter! Also, on a soul level, I connect with the frequency of Huanuco Coca immensely.
Your business is multidimensional, what brings you the most joy?
Anything that sparks my creativity, which is basically everything I do. From blending essential oils to writing, designing and teaching programs, I love sharing and feel really grateful to offer what I live and love.
What do you feel is the most prevalent physical health challenge for women these days?
Most women come to me with an over-arching feeling of overwhelm. It’s endemic in our society. We work a lot with recalibrating the nervous system and implementing the “medicine of extraction” – a tool I use to find ways to simplify rather than add more to the “to-do list.” Hormonal and glandular imbalances are also quite prevalent these days.
What’s your relationship with allopathic medicine?
Respectful and disappointed simultaneously. To a large extent, our medical system is failing us. It is not a model based on wellness, rather a model based on disease. Covering up natural remedies that can be highly beneficial, due to the corporatized nature of the pharmaceutical industry, is rampant. I’ve had many loved ones pass at the hands of “doctors” and their “treatments.” It’s very difficult to have faith in the system. That being said, there are many doctors and nurses who genuinely care and work tirelessly for our betterment. I have the utmost respect for them. One aside here… the impending merger of Bayer and Monsanto is quite alarming and I encourage everyone to stay informed!
Describe your relationship with food.
Intuitive. People ask me all the time… “Are you vegetarian? Vegan? Macrobiotic?” I always say, “I eat intuitively. If I feel like I need it, I eat it.” That’s really the point, right? To become so attuned to our needs and refined in our self-awareness that we become our own physicians. Let food be thy medicine… That’s empowerment!
When do you feel most beautiful and what are your best beauty tips?
Ha! – that’s a fun question. I feel most beautiful when I’m giving and forgiving. I love to share. That makes me feel really alive. And because I hold forgiveness as a spiritual ideal, I feel beautiful from the inside-out when I am embodying that energy. For beauty tips… breathe deeply and love yourself. Also, ingest turmeric for glowing skin and apply rose water for a luxurious skin tonic!
What is Ayurveda’s biggest contribution to the modern challenge of stress management?
Anything that decreases and balances Vata Dosha: namely Abhyanga and Shirodhara. Chanting is also a great way of relieving stress by increasing one’s frequency and elevating consciousness.
How do you keep your relationship to Ayurvedic aromatherapy in a state of evolution, keeping it fresh and expanding?
Nature does that for me. Whenever I get a new batch of essential oil it’s unique. The subtle nuances inherent in the Earth produce different aromas each time. And the process of creating an essential oil – time of harvest, the emotion of the harvester, etc. – are also factored into the final outcome. So it’s always alive and “breathing” as an art. In regard to product creation, I’ll get an intuitive hit and know it’s time to manifest. I’ve just created two new solid perfumes that are receiving rave reviews. One is akin to the Gift of the Magi – with Frankincense, Gold Leaf and Myrhh, and a sultry whisper of Ylang Ylang at the top. I decided I wanted to incorporate gold and silver into the balms for added medicinal value. It has been fun experimenting. My next project is to make a homemade (and quite complex!) natural incense in the tradition of the Egyptian Pharaohs. I just follow what interests me…
What would you say to the yoga industry if they asked you for advice to anyone practising yoga in the 21st century?
That in essence, yoga is not an industry. Or how we look in our asana, our new yoga pants or our yoga selfies. That in general, the way we are viewing, teaching and practising yoga, and asana specifically, doesn’t do justice to its inherent spiritual technology. In my experience Yoga serves as a blueprint for us to expand and attune to a higher, multi-dimensional reality, which awakens us into the fullness of freedom and the highest vibration – love. It paves the way to self-responsibility and personal empowerment. I would encourage the industry to encourage people to practice the full spectrum of yoga, delve into ethical living and the breath, and go way beyond physical alignment into the subliminal imprints in our psychic space.
You can learn more about Alana, her beautifully crafted aromas and her upcoming training and workshops through her website www.anjaliaromatics.com