It’s barely launched in the States and already, everybody loves Ila. A celebrity makeup artist friend uses the Face Oil for Glowing Radiance on her famous clients, and can’t keep enough in her kit. A Ritz-Carlton spa director calls the line “achingly beautiful and truly authentic.”
And I can tell you, first-hand, that the Ila Kundalini Massage I had at the Four Seasons Spa in New York City recently is one of my top three spa treatments EVER. (Believe me, I’ve had a lot of spa treatments.) It is nothing short of transformative, verging on profound.
This active, energy-based, yoga-inspired skincare and treatment line from the UK is already headed for cult status and it’s hardly broken ground on this side of the pond. So I asked founder Denise Leicester: Just what is it about Ila?
“If we look at skin from a yogic perspective, it’s connected to the heart,” says Leicester. “I wanted to create something special for women that went beyond skincare. I wanted to bring ingredients that nourished the skin and nurtured the heart.” Maybe that heart connection is why everyone is so in love with this brand.
Ila is Sanskrit for “earth,” and Leicester seeks out and nurtures personal relationships with organic farmers around the world who grow crops the same way they have for centuries. The purest ingredients hold vibrational energy, Leicester believes, due to ancient farming techniques and ancient wisdom. “If you’re going to work with the beauty and energy of nature, you can’t use synthetics and maintain integrity,” says Leicester. And integrity—along with efficacy and an experiential aspect that is quite unique— is what Ila is all about. Ingredients are sourced directly from India, Morocco, Pakistan, the Brazilian rainforest and the Andes mountains. They are brought back to a cozy spot, nestled in the Cotswolds, where products are blended by hand.
Everything about Ila flows from Leicester’s study of Ayurveda and yogic healing. She was 13 when her mother brought her to her first yoga class. By the time she was 16, Leicester was a yoga savant. She headed to India to study Ayurveda, and, as she says, “that was it.” Along the way, she became a nurse and added a medical background to her knowledge base. “I need to understand the science,” she says.
The treatments Leicester developed for Ila circle back to the idea that we need to detox the body from the physical effects of thoughts and emotions that accumulate there. “Our cells hold information and communicate, and our thoughts and feelings are held within our bodies.” Energy flows naturally through marma (yogic healing) points in the body, Leicester explains. But we become blocked, and that’s where the treatment comes in. “We realign the body back to that inherent flow of energy by understanding how to use touch and sound,” Leicester says.
The Kundalini massage focuses on rebalancing and re-guiding the energy through the seven chakras on the back. The massage—with warm oil, light touch and chants from a composition she recorded herself—is designed to release emotional tension and restore a healthy balanced flow of energy.
Whatever it is, it is an extraordinary feeling. All burdens lift as the Ila Kundalini sets you onto a still, weightless plane. You feel light, as if you’ve been ironed out emotionally. Or perhaps it is connecting with what Leicester calls “the rhythm of stillness” she believes flows through all of us. If you don’t understand, you will after you have a treatment. But I’m warning you, you’ll need to stand in line.