Welcome back to our “In the Spotlight” series! This is a new addition to our blog where we introduce you to local birth workers, wellness practitioners, and medical professionals in Orange County.
Today, we’d like you to say hello to Pilar Chandler, Massage Therapist, Holistic Health Ayurvedic Practitioner and Owner of Shri Veda Wellness in Costa Mesa! Pilar is one of the incredible members of our resource network. This network is a collaborative group of professionals who strive to improve the care of families in the OC through high quality services, education, options, and support.
We had a chance to chat with Pilar and get more insight into what exactly is an Ayurvedic Practitioner and how her life experience has contributed to her passion in working with women.
1) Tell us a bit about yourself… where did you grow up, are you married, do you have kids, what do you like to do in your spare time, etc.
I am originally from Hawaii and I grew up between The Islands and Newport Beach. I have always been super active in outdoor adventures, swimming, surfing, hiking and camping. Nature has always played a major role in my life, so dropping in to that regularly for me is a soul touchstone; keeps me connected to source. I became a Mom when I was 19 years old and raised my daughter as a single mother. I really enjoyed being a young mom, for us it was perfect. It kept me grounded and focused on my goals and we had a lot of fun traveling and exploring. She lives and goes to school in the Bay Area now, so I am at a whole new renaissance in my life with all this extra time! When I am not in the water or on the trail I am most likely to be found writing, painting or in my garden.
2) How long have you been an Ayurvedic Practionier & Massage Therapist and what inspired you to do this work?
I became a massage therapist in ’99 after a brief career in the fashion industry. Natural healing was something I had been interested in for a while at that point, but wasn’t really thinking about it as a career. I had birthed my daughter at home and was already a home herbalist, but it was my Grandmother who really encouraged me to look at it as a career. So I did, and went from a Massage Therapist to a Holistic Health Practitioner pretty quickly. I walked into Healing Hands School of Holistic Health and found my tribe! I took every class I could and then became a teacher. I taught multiple modalities there for over 10 years. I love being in the classroom, either as a student or a teacher it’s a very stimulating and inspiring environment for me.
Ayurveda came in somewhere around 2002-3. I was looking for something to expand upon with my practice. I explored Acupuncture, Chiropractic, etc. but Ayurveda was a very natural fit. It is the sister science of Yoga and I have been practicing yoga since high school and studying Tantra for a few years at that point. Ayurveda is a complete medical science the oldest known to man, but it was the spiritual component that was the clincher for me. The ultimate goal in Ayurveda is to bring the physical body into harmony with one’s environment, once the ailments are dissolved one is more likely to align with your higher purpose, higher self, for enlightenment and true joy. In 2006 I graduated with Honors from Mount Madonna Institute, College of Ayurveda as a general practitioner and then eventually went on to specialize in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
3) What is a common misconception people have about your profession?
I think most people don’t know enough about Ayurveda to have too many misconceptions. I actually don’t mention it too often, to avoid the confusion. It is the lense through which I look when working with a client. Occasionally I will have someone call who is looking specifically for Ayurveda, but mostly my clients find me as a “Natural Women’s Health Specialist”. I can of course treat anyone for anything that you would go to your regular doctor for, similar to a naturopath. In my practice I use body treatments (various types of massage therapies), lifestyle and dietary recommendations, herbal formulas, supplements and Yoni (vaginal) steams to support my clients healing. I have a large apothecary in my office where I formulate personalized herbal blends for my clients. We do a lot of check-ins and processing with each appointment. I find as a holistic practitioner I am kind of like a detective, asking questions to discover where the missing link is, whether it’s emotionally, spiritually, or physically. This also helps me know where to best support each person.
4) What is the “why” behind your business? Why do you do what you do?
It could be because I am a woman, or maybe because I have a daughter, but I believe that when we, women specifically, feel our best, when we can be honest about our needs and desires and hold our space in the world as bearers of life and keepers of peace, I believe our world can become balanced again. A teacher of mine told me something profound many years ago that has always stuck with me... “There are only two kinds of people in this world… Mother’s and their children.” Honoring the female and feminine principle in our world has been repressed or all together forgotten. No Mother wants to feed her children poisons or send her child off to war. Whether you are a mother or a daughter, when we as women can align with our true purpose, our highest selves, I believe our world can know peace. World peace. I do what I do, because I believe it helps bring balance to the planet, and to smash the patriarchy.
5) What is the most satisfying part of your job? What is the most challenging?
For me the most satisfying part of my job is helping someone feel better, whether that is; soothing menstrual pain, resolving digestive issues, achieving a pregnancy, birthing a healthy baby, sailing through postpartum or menopause. I always believe there is the potential for healing. The journey, the process or even the outcome may not be what we expected, but that is part of this human life. However, feeling better and more balanced, we can always strive for that.
Challenges… My clients are very smart and very educated. Often times, by the time they come to me they have seen a laundry list of doctors, or specialists or have done a ton of research. Staying on top of all the latest research and health trends can sometimes be challenging, but mostly I would call it inspiring.
6) Tell us a little bit about your education and how your training and experience sets you apart?
As far as I know I am the only one in Southern California that works the way I do; that combines massage therapy, Ayurveda, herbal medicine and Mayan Abdominal therapy for my clients. I have been trained as a massage therapist, with over 2000 hours of training in various methods. I am state certified as an instructor and therapist and have my National Board certification in massage therapy. I am a certified Holistic Health Practitioner. I am trained and certified in Ayurveda and hold credentials with NAMA (National Ayurvedic Medical Association), as well as advanced training in Obstetrics and Gynecology. I am a certified Arvigo Mayan Abdominal Therapy practitioner, with advanced training in prenatal applications. I also am a trained doula and certified Yoga Instructor.
Aside from my trainings and certifications, I have also spent the last 20 years raising my daughter without any pharmaceutical interventions (she did have stitches a couple times!). So my experience with holistic living goes beyond my training, it’s really my life!
7)What else inspires you in life?
EVERYTHING!! I am a pretty passionate person and I can find inspiration almost everywhere. My work, nature, my daughter, dance, children, animals, the ocean, these are some common themes in my life. I love creating space and ritual. I am an artist who plays in many modalities from photography, painting, hand-work… there is always a creative project going on at home. I love to travel, to see new places and experience different cultures. Sometimes it can be a bit daunting… all the ideas I have that want to be birthed… there’s not enough time in the day!
8) What is your favorite place to relax in the OC?
My home is really my sanctuary. It’s definitely my favorite place to relax and unwind, work in the garden, listen to music. Besides that, the beach, some of my favorite beaches (aside from my local sands in Newport) would be Crystal Cove or Crescent Beach in Laguna. We are so lucky to have such access to so much beautiful coastline. Nature is really a panacea for so much!