|Ayurvedic practitioner and massage therapist Megan Darwin (Scout Hebinck, scouteephoto.com)|
At Kreation Kafe/Juicery 1202 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice (310) 314-7778
For the past few years, juice diets like the Master Cleanse have been all the rage, but they often make you feel so lightheaded, dizzy and famished that you want to give up after the first day. With that in mind, Ayurvedic practitioner and massage therapist, Megan Darwin, has developed her own program called the Juicy Yogi Detox that incorporates traditional principles with modern juicing to give Angelenos the ultimate cleansing experience.
I met up with the L.A. native to talk about growing up in Arcadia, her discovery and training in Ayurveda and the Juicy Yogi Detox at Kreation Kafe/Juicery in Venice Beach. This is where she regularly stops for a bottle of juice on her way to treating clients at Spa Sophia, which is also located on Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
|Megan Darwin at Kreation Kafe/Juicery|
As we take a seat in Kreation’s busy yet comfortable patio, surrounded by wood paneling and live succulents covering sections of the wall, the long list of juice options can be a bit intimidating. They offer several cold pressed juices, like the Green (apple, cucumber, romaine, kale and pear), Trinity Twist (lemon, apple, carrot and beet) and Rosy Aura (rose water and cantaloupe). Megan shares that her favorite of their Premium Detox blends is the Synchronize with dandelion, kale, cilantro, pear, pineapple, jalapeño, fennel, basil, turmeric, mint, cucumber, parsley, celery, spinach, romaine, lemon and Himalayan salt. She is also a fan of the refreshing Limonana (alkaline water, lemon, mint and raw cane sugar) lemonade.
This Abbott Kinney Kreation location also serves a full menu that includes kabobs and wraps, as well as cold and hot tapas. After ordering a Quinoa Chopped Salad and some Synchronize juice, Megan explains that the imbalance people experienced while doing a strictly juice cleanse is one of the factors that inspired her to design the Juicy Yogi Detox, which is also based on techniques she acquired in her five years of studying Ayurveda’s traditional cleansing process of Pancha Karma.
“Ayurveda is an elemental healing paradigm. Everything in the universe is made up of ether, air, fire, water or earth. Your body contains a different ratio of those qualities depending on what you take in, so if you’re only drinking juice it’s easy to get lightheaded or dizzy because you don’t have anything grounding you. In traditional Pancha Karma, you only eat kitchari, which is very nourishing but lacks the fresh, live enzymes you get from juice,” she begins. “Every day in my five-day program, the Juicy Yogi Detox, you get a detoxifying massage with warm herbal therapeutic oils, Shirodhara therapy to clear the mind, Chi Machine therapy, an herbal steam and I provide you with herbs to take every night eating, juices and a mono diet of kitchari – an ayurvedic superfood made with yellow mung beans, basmati rice, vegetables (usually carrots and celery), spices and ghee (clarified butter).”
In Megan’s cleansing detox that supplants traditional practices with modern juicing, your body receives all the nutrients, energy and elemental balance it needs so you’re able to go to work and take your dog for a leisurely walk without feeling completely spent. She encourages minimal physical exercise and the lowest stress-filled environment as possible, because “any energy you’re expending is energy that can’t be used to healed whatever needs to be healed within your body.”
While her life currently revolves around total health and wellness, Megan didn’t always maintain the healthiest of eating habits as a child in the suburb of Arcadia, Calif.
“When I was growing up, I would eat at least one pack of Hostess chocolate donuts every day. Cereal bowls weren’t big enough for me, so I would eat my Lucky Charms out of a big tupperware. When I was sick, it was Rite Aid and Walgreens for Tylenol, Advil and NyQuil,” she remembers. “I went to UCLA and studied political science. After graduating, I took a year off and had a roommate whose mom was very into yoga and natural healing. When we would get sick she would say, ‘Drink this tea with this herb.’ The world of natural healing opened up to me, and I was amazed by it. ‘A tea is going to help me? That’s so cool.’”
Megan began researching different paradigms of natural healing but was a bit overwhelmed by all of the different philosophies: Chinese healing, homeopathy, naturopathy, etc. That is, until she was introduced to Ayurveda.
“I happened upon a book that I got from a friend written by Christy Turlington called Living Yoga with a whole chapter on the basic, fundamental principles of what Ayurveda is, and it totally clicked. It made so much sense to me that I had an emotional response to it; I started to cry,” she recalls. “When that happens you pay attention, so I researched colleges and found the California College of Ayurveda.”
While taking a Pancha Karma training workshop, Megan’s abilities caught the attention of the college’s founder, and she was offered an apprenticeship at a private Ayurvedic retreat center.
|(Scout Hebinck, scouteephoto.com)|
“I was supposed to intern at the Blue Sage Sanctuary for a year but ended up staying five years,” she exclaims. “From L.A. to studying Ayurveda in San Francisco, there I was on 20 acres of land in Nevada City, it was so grounding. I really needed that time to settle in, learn and get really good with my skills. It was so cool to watch people go through the detox process there away from distractions, because with it comes an emotional detox very often.”
Megan thoroughly enjoyed her time at the center and even returns there each fall to lead people through detoxification, but she always knew she would return to Los Angeles to open her own practice.
“I love Santa Monica, there’s nowhere else in L.A. that I would like to live. I like the vibe, the culture, and that the beach is so close. San Francisco is a beautiful city, but the weather killed me – having grown up being so blessed with great weather, then having gray cold summers and wearing a sweater in June,” she says. “I love that it’s so health conscious in L.A., it’s fairly clean. I love driving up to Malibu and looking at the blue of the sky. I need sunshine!”
Aside from Kreation, you can often find her grabbing a bite at Golden Mean or taking in a concert at the Santa Monica Pier during the summer since she is an avid music lover.
In addition to the Juicy Yogi Detox Program, Megan also offers any of her Ayurvedic therapies (herbal massage or steam, Nasya sinus therapy and Shirodhara) as separate or coupled services.
“It’s so cool to see the reactions from people who have never Shirodhara before. Hot oil is poured over your third eye/chakra and flows down your head and over your scalp, inducing a meditative state or you can just fall asleep if you need it,” she explains. “It’s the perfect therapy for stress, anxiety or insomnia.”
Just hearing her describe the relaxing therapy has me ready to make an appointment ASAP. Megan is also planning to host discussions to educate Angelenos about the different ailments that Ayurveda can treat, from cancer and insomnia to sinus and allergy problems, so make sure to check in at her website for updates.
For more information, call (310) 780-5006 or visit integrative-ayurveda.com.