Martha Soffer is the founder of Surya, Santa Monica’s recognized leader of modern Ayurveda. A teacher, lecturer, and acclaimed expert in the field, Martha’s focus on “Ayurveda for modern life” is achieved through a system of practical and easy self-care, helping each individual attain balance and wellness through healing retreats, restorative beauty, wellness, and food products, as well as educational guidance and support. Martha also works with medical doctors who refer patients when Western medicine cannot deliver a satisfactory solution. With the Surya team, Martha brings long-term vitality and health to clients who range from next-door neighbors to the top stars of the film and entertainment industries.
Even on Sunday, I wake up early — around 5:30 or 6 a.m. I love to meditate and do forgiveness prayers when everything is quiet. I usually wake up excited about the people I’m helping, what are their treatments, what are their problems, what can I do for them, but I don’t want to get busy with that until after I meditate. I love TM (Transcendental Meditation), which I’ve been doing for 34 years. I do an extended version past the normal 20 minutes. It gives me deep rest and extra vitality, and sets the world right. Also, I pee in a jar. It’s not because I don’t have a great toilet (unless we’re sleeping in the yurt on our hill), but because I have an amazing garden, and the morning’s first pee, diluted 50% with water, is incredible for plants (high in sulfites, potassium, phosphorus, etc.). That might seem weird, but it’s traditional in many cultures, and certainly in Ayurveda. It took a while to convince my husband, Roger, but now it’s just routine (and our garden is thriving!).
After meditation, for my skin, I do a little dry-brushing with Bass’ Bamboo Facial Dry Brush or a garshana, which is a quick body rub with raw silk gloves, to encourage circulation. Then I do a short self-massage, and abhyanga, with one of Surya’s four herbalized oils. I pick the one that feels like what I need to balance for the day. When I shower, I only use soap on my yoni, to let the body oils soak deeper into my tissues. For my face, I start with Sacred Rose Water, which helps with my freckles and general cooling, then do a facial massage with an Ayurvedic Kansa wand and Surya Face Oil, which is richly herbal and made with a variety of milks, all of which helps rejuvenate the skin. I apply Surya Balancing Collagen Cream, which is based on a recipe passed down through many generations of women in my family, combined with everything I’ve learned in 30 years of Ayurvedic practice. If there’s one thing we have that’s magic at Surya, it’s the Collagen Cream. We even make it on the full moon, with all the traditional mantras. I also use Santa Maria Novella Sun Screen to protect my skin from excess sun.
So — a little meditation, a little beauty, and then, on a Sunday, it could be anything. I love going to farmer’s markets, going to the movies, hiking, flea markets, and working in the garden, and at the end of each Sunday, we try to have a Colombian family dinner. My kids and their partners come over, maybe a family friend or two, and I cook ajiaco. It’s a traditional soup of corn, potatoes, and then you add whatever you like on the table — chicken, capers, avocado, cream. Or I make something else, like empanadas. But mostly it’s the family, all of us together, talking, laughing, sharing, and even dancing after dinner.
I follow the same beauty routine as Sunday, but before work, once a week or more if I can, I do some Qigong with a Grand Master named Koncho. It’s right on the Bluffs in Santa Monica, about three minutes from Surya Spa, so it’s very convenient, and instantly calming and energizing. Koncho also does some Chi healing on our clients as one of the available services for guests doing Panchakarma at Surya. In the day, it’s clients and consults, seeing many people in the treatment rooms, and Zoom check-ins with faraway clients. Then, at night, back home before bed, I wash my face with Surya Collagen Cleanser, which helps to tighten the skin. That’s not on the market yet, but it will be soon. In the mornings, I put on a little rose water, then the Balancing Face Oil, and finally the Balancing Collagen Cream, and at night I use extra Collagen Cream because it acts like an all-night mask and works its rejuvenating magic while I sleep.
It’s the same beauty routine morning and night. But the day is always different, and sometimes I see many, many clients, so at home in the evening, in addition to my meditation, I love to get in the garden, or feed the hummingbirds (we have so many at our house!), and I love to cook even a simple dinner for Roger and myself. If it’s not too late, Roger and I will snuggle on our super soft couch and watch a movie or an episode of whatever great show we’re into. Roger put a projector and drop-down screen in during COVID, so it’s really like being in the movies right in our house — but super cozy and fun.
I like to do a couple of masks in the week. I vary them according to my skin’s needs, but one of my favorites is a potato mask. I cut off the end of a potato, then rub that open potato on my face. You let the juice dry, and that’s it — it’s incredibly simple and super effective for wrinkles and tightening the skin in general. It’s also very inexpensive! I leave it on for about 45 minutes (while I’m meditating) but even five minutes is beneficial. After that, I just rinse it off, and I’m done!
Once a week, I do a special facial cupping — not with glass, but with a soft silicone cup. My favorite set is the Skin Gym one from Citrine Natural Beauty Bar. I apply the Face Oil, then use my favorite blend of essential oils: Floracopeia Helichrysum Essential Oil Blend. I rub a drop or two on each side of my face, then on my forehead. Using one of the smaller silicone cups (so the suction isn’t too strong), I squeeze the cup to create the suction, then glide it up each side of my face towards my hairline. I glide it across my forehead, then from the eyebrows up to the hairline. At the end, starting at the hairline, I move the cup down to both sides of my face to the left and right collarbone. After this, my skin might be a little red for 10-15 minutes, but then it looks — and feels (and is!) — rejuvenated.
At the end of the week, when I can use a little extra de-stressing, I do a special mask/bath combo at night after dinner. For the mask, I make a clay mask mixed with healing botanicals (I like to use things like neem, aloe vera, honey, royal jelly, cacao, and raw egg), put it on, and get into one of the Surya Bath Soaks. I choose the type of Bath Soak based on whatever I feel I need at that moment — Calming, Cooling, Muscle Relief, and Hormone Soothing — but really, all of them are literal spa treatments that anyone can do in their own home. You’ll feel the healing effects right away — they’re profound, and they last. And the way I do it, you’re getting a little face therapy at the same time!
Before meditation, when I know I have a little extra time, I blend a hair mask of egg, avocado, vinegar, lemon, olive oil, coconut oil, and a special Surya herbalized oil we make for clients at the spa. Because of the avocado, it turns a beautiful green. I massage it into my scalp and all through my hair. I pop on a plastic shower cap so I don’t ruin anything I might lean against, and wrap all that in a towel to create warmth, which helps with the absorption of all beneficial properties of the oils and botanicals. Ideally, I leave this in for an hour (my combined meditation and beauty moment!), then wash it out in the shower. The hair mask helps prevent hair loss, reduces dandruff, and makes my hair wonderfully shiny and soft.
Saturday is also a great day for a yoga lesson — we have wonderful Dosha Yoga teachers at Surya, and from time to time I hire them myself to work on opening whatever needs to be opened in my body. Saturday is also Yoni Day. We do Yoni steams at Surya, but they’re just as easy to do at home. We also make a Yoni Cream, which moisturizes and soothes our most delicate skin. Saturday is also a great day to catch up on my Italian lessons. I love Duolingo, and I sometimes practice Italian while I’m doing a steam. Finally, Roger and I usually make Saturday night a great date night, maybe at Santa Monica’s Birdie G’s, Rustic Canyon, or Tallula’s, where we talk about anything and everything. We both love good food, especially if it’s organic and cooked with love.
And that’s really my mantra — whatever I do, I try to do with love, for others and for myself. It’s the right energy to be in. I think we all know this. It’s the energy that heals, that makes us feel like we’re at home, and when we’re in that energy, we are at home, with ourselves, and with each other. Then we feel beautiful, we look beautiful, and we are beautiful. That’s my week!
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