Pure magic for pure beauty, that's how I would describe Mauli Rituals, an Ayurveda-inspired organic body and skin care line created by Anita and Bittu Kaushal and their team. I stumbled upon the British-born London-based brand a few months ago attracted by the idea of using a natural body oil blended according to the centuries-old vedic wisdom I've always been interested in. What happened next was rather special. The Sacred Oil brought the much-needed peace and comfort I craved for aged. It made me stop and relax, appreciate the importance of "me" time. Mauli turned out to be not simply about beauty, gorgeous scents or expertise - they were also about love. The love for their families, nature, people, traditions: everything that makes our life meaningful and worth celebrating.
What does beauty mean to you?
Anita (A): Beauty is to love and to be loved.
Bittu (B): Being present to life is beautiful.
Where should we turn to discover true beauty?
A: Turn within to discover your own beauty and then you will see it in all others.
B: There is beauty all around; we just have to open our eyes to see it.
What is the Ayurvedic perception of a beautiful person?
B: Trust your inner judgement - you know the truth by the way it feels. Beyond this, honour your wellbeing - mind, body and spirit.
In one of your journal entries you refer to Chekhov's quote about the world being nothing but out conception of it... In other words, we see what our mind chooses to see including our perception of beauty. Why, in your opinion, we often lose that essential connection between our body and mind, what's truly beautiful and what isn't? And how can it be restored if at all?
A: I believe we lose that connection because we don't take the time to be still. Instead we live life in our minds; in memories of the past and of the glorified future. Add to this the speed with which ever shorter, ever faster content is hitting us from all directions and it's no wonder we have lost the art of slowing down to saviour the rituals.
A connection to your sacred, magnificent self can only be achieved by taking time to disconnect from technology, from people and from your mind. Free of all distractions, you will eventually reach the point when you can feel your immense power and beauty, and then life becomes beautiful.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, it's all about balance, and if any element is out of kilter, we lose our connection. Our perceptions are then fuzzy and marred. There is so much talk of the mind, body, spirit balance now, but it's important to relax and live by the 80/20 rule.
Obviously, meditating is great, but if you then abuse the mind and body with toxic thoughts and substances, you will hinder your natural flow - but a little indulgence is absolutely fine. Don't make a mistake of going on a major health kick or to a retreat only to find the new habits cannot be sustained.
Be honest with yourself and practise what fits into your lifestyle, today and for always.
B: Ego is the root cause of loss of perception and indeed connection. With ego comes a separation from the others, when deep down we know we are all connected. It is why we include a Mauli in each of our products. It serves to remind us that we share a connection and in giving kindness to self and to those we don't even seemingly know, we regain perspective and we see all that comes into our reality as relevant and perfect.
Is there a ritual that can help to nurture self-love and maintain the mind-body-spirit balance?
A: The yoga mat is a great way to nurture self love as the breathing, the postures, the grace all connect you to a place of surrender and gratitude for the magnificence of just being.
B: Yes, sacred space reserved for you and only you. It's important to be seemingly selfish if you really want to be authentically selfless.
What about Ayurvedic skincare - how can it help to heal and rejuvenate the body and senses? What is the main difference between an Ayurvedic approach to wellbeing and the traditional Western one?
A: Our Ayurvedic skincare products use some of the most nutrient-dense ingredients on the planet and being all natural and organic, these absorb into the skin helping to heal and rejuvenate. Everything you put on your skin goes into your body and with Mauli that's a good thing. We blend the most potent, therapeutic botanicals from India and England and these have a profound effect on the skin and senses.
The Western world has typically been about "cure" and that's no bad thing as something there is no other option, but if more was invested in "prevention", which is the Ayurvedic way, then we could have a healthier society.
For me, using Mauli is definitely an encounter, an act, that can change, enhance our life and, as a result, change our perception of life, beauty and self. Which makes me wonder about every action in our lives being powered by a certain experience.... Which ones lead you to creating Mauli?
A: Both Bittu and I have lost several people we loved dearly, but their spirit and love are imbued in Mauli. We wanted to honour the wisdom of ages and also protect the health and wellbeing of the future generations while giving a little something back. Given our previous career and Indian heritage, Mauli seemed a good fit, as we had first hand experience of the abundance of Ayurveda's healing systems and knew we could make it relevant and refined to suit the needs of modern living.
We then collaborated with highly skilled aromatherapists and vedic practitioners right here in London (Bittu's father being one of them) who helped distill the synergy that would bring healing, balance and beauty. beyond this, every purchase leaves here with a temple blessed Mauli/sacred red thread - the symbol of wellbeing and protection, and it's what we wish for our customers and for the causes that benefit from the donation we make on every purchase made.
What was the most challenging (and most exciting) about combining the Ayurvedic philosophy and naturopathy with modern principles?
B: India's healing ingredients are medical elixirs, but in all honesty, they are not suited to a Western audience in terms of consistency, smell, texture and application, so balancing these blends to remain entirely natural and organic, powerful and yet desirable in their efficacy, purity and luxury was the main challenge.
While this is a wonderful by-product of natural products, it is also a challenge because each batch varies slightly due to the crops yielded at any given time and even more challenging is that the price of the therapeutic oils can jump up dramatically from one season to the next and add to this that she shelf life of naturals is always shorter. It would be so much easier if we were using synthetic products that mimic the real thing, but where's the joy in that?
Again, another challenge, but rewarding aspect, is finding creative solutions for our packaging, which is either recyclable, biodegradable or reusable - I love that our steel vessels and spoons give lasting pleasure.
Thankfully we have overcome all these challenges and I am so proud of the end result, which brings me to the exciting part: our customers give us such a wonderful feedback, and knowing we are doing our little bit to make them feel better is hugely gratifying.
What is the process of creating a Mauli Rituals product?
A: The starting point is considering what we want the product to achieve. We then move onto which time-tested Ayurvedic botanicals best serve the need and then hand over to our aromatherapists and vedic practitioners to begin balancing and blending. Finally we test until we feel comfortable we have achieved the optimum consistency, scent and potency. We then have to send our product information to a lab to verify the safety of each ingredient. Then comes the testing on friends and family for feedback and modifications. The process from start to finish takes a lot of trials, and changes enormously along the way, but at the end, we achieve our aims.
How do you select the ingredients for Mauli blends and are there any you are particularly found of?
B: I turn to my father-in-law who is an Ayurvedic doctor and a walking library of information. We use moringa in most our blends as it's one of the most antioxidant-rich plants on the planet. We also use sandalwood in most our blends for its soothing and calming properties.
Being so incredibly special, practically a couture form of skincare, are Mauli Rituals a necessity or luxury?
A: I believe wellbeing is an absolute necessity and Mauli is a part of that puzzle.
What is the best way to use your products?
A: The weekly rituals are wonderful at the end of the week to allow you to mentally and physically detox and let go.
B: The daily rituals take very little time, but are highly effective in removing toxins and rejuvenating skin and senses. Be present and make it a meditative experience.
Do you have a favourite Mauli product you cannot live without?
B: All our products have been created to be multi-tasking, so I love our Nourish post-shave & beard oil as I can use it on my hair, face, beard and to scent skin and senses. I also rely on Grow Strong to keep my hair healthy.
A: Tricky, as I need and use them all, but I love the Radiance exfoliant mask as it really draws out the toxins, and Sacred Union as it does it all and I love the fuss free products.
And which one would you suggest to somebody looking to try Mauli Rituals for the first time?
A: That very much depends on what they need, but a good starting point is the Discovery Set.
Are there any other small but important steps every woman should follow to improve her health and take care of her skin, body, hair and soul, and, in other words, become the best version of self?
A: Self love, acceptance and sacred space are all wonderful ways to heal within. Women are simply too hard on themselves.
Talking to you has been such a pleasure, I find it rather difficult to finish the interview. Since we started with a quote from a Russian classic, lets finish with another one, if you don't mind... Dostoevsky once wrote that "beauty will save the world"... Would you agree?
B: The world is beautiful and has served us without demanding anything in return. It's time we honour the planet and in doing so, we will honour ourselves - all part of the same energy field.
To stay in touch with Bittu, Anita and Mauli Rituals follow them via official website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
Mauli Rituals are available at SpaceNK and Mauli Rituals
Photo source: c/o Mauli Rituals