Meet the Founders: Ayu

Intention imbues the soul of a scent… 

This post comes to us from our friend, Natalie Shukur.

Digging deep into the ancient practices of Ayurveda, Ayu founders Alanna Quinn and Madeleine Whitter have created a line of oil-based scents that are a salve for the spirit as much as the senses. We talked to the Sydney-based Quinn about doshas, tongue scraping and the psychology of perfume.

How did Ayu come to life?

While holidaying in India together a few years ago, the idea of creating something based around Ayurvedic principles was something we talked about frequently, as this traditional health care system is widely practiced over there. We were surrounded by all these amazing, traditional, centuries-old perfume houses. We’ve both always loved blending our own scents from different oils and the idea just came to life. It’s pretty amazing to think that a scent affects your brain in different ways and can bring about such a multitude of emotions, and that you can have a hand in creating positive, grounding experiences for people who wear them.

When did you first discover Ayurveda and what got you hooked?

I first discovered Ayurveda through Madeleine, who studied it some years ago and was [in] one of the first classes to graduate with a recognized certification here in Australia. I was so fascinated by it; it made complete sense to me and she inspired me to begin my studies in Ayurveda. I don’t think either of us will ever stop studying, there’s just so much you can learn, and I don’t think we’d get through it in this lifetime! When I began applying daily [Ayurvedic] routines and making changes to my lifestyle, I really noticed a change for the better. My anxiety was relieved; I felt a sense of clarity and much more grounded than I’d ever felt before.

What makes Ayu scents different?

Ayu scents are inspired by Vedic knowledge; our perfume oils are made and measured with the art of perfume, combined with the knowledge of balancing the mind, body and spirit. Our perfumes don’t contain alcohol, which is very drying to the skin. They’re made from natural ingredients and include flower and plant extracts, floral absolutes and essential oils. sandalwood, jojoba and wheatgerm oils all act as natural fixatives and help to retain the scent for a longer period of time, while also nourishing the skin. All of our perfumes are blended with Ayurvedic herbs that have been specifically chosen for their restorative qualities.

Did you research much into the psychology of scent when making your fragrances?

All of our Ayurvedic knowledge was poured into the creation of Ayu, which also included choosing notes specifically for their grounding and uplifting qualities. The psychology of scent is very important in Ayurveda, with a multitude of flowers and plants being used for many centuries for different healing purposes.

What are some of your favorite scents?

Our Souq scent would have to be one of my all-time favorite scents. I’ll never get over rose and jasmine. Sandalwood is another favorite as it’s so versatile. Amber brings back beautiful childhood memories as well.

How do you source the ingredients for your oils?

Through travel and a lot of research! We work with suppliers that have great knowledge and are always ethical in their practices.

Tell us about your personal daily wellness rituals…

I always begin the day by meditating; scraping the tongue to rid the body of accumulated toxins, and drinking a warm cup of water with lemon, grated ginger and honey to stimulate the digestive system. I meditate at night as well, and before hopping into bed I massage my feet with warm, medicated sesame oil. There’s an ancient Indian saying that suggests: “disease never goes near a person who massages his or her feet just before sleeping, just as snakes do not approach eagles.” Many spiritual traditions believe the body and soul are connected to — and are even embodied — in the soles of the feet.

Do you follow an eating philosophy?

I try to go for warm, cooked foods rather than eating too much raw food, which is hard to digest and not so great for [my] Vata dominant dosha. Warm foods are easily digested, balancing and grounding for a Vata. Keeping the digestive system healthy keeps your immune system healthy — this is the main teaching when it comes to Ayuveda and diet. I always drink warm water over cold, as it stimulates the flushing of toxins from the body.

How do you like to move your body?

With yoga, which I practice frequently. I also walk and swim in the sea a lot.

Tell us about living in Australia and what you love about the lifestyle…

Growing up, we spent a lot of time outdoors and I think that’s part of the quintessential Australian lifestyle — we’re surrounded by such beauty. My childhood was spent at the beach almost every weekend. It’s laid-back and I’m grateful to live in a pretty safe country. It’s nice to spend time up the coast and just go off the grid for a while to recharge.

What else inspires your work?

Besides Ayurveda, it would have to be travel. Travel is so important for us in sourcing new materials, and being inspired by different cultures and new ideas. We’re currently planning our next trip to India. We’re always working on new scents and we are looking to expand our range of products as well, so lots of exciting things in the works!

+Shop Ayu Scented Oils here

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