Vendor Spotlight- Mara Holloway
Mara: I’m currently living and supporting new mamas in Orlando, Florida. I grew up in a small rural town in Northern Florida and spent much of my youth exploring the mossy oak landscapes there. Things tend to move at a slower pace in the South and life is simple. The culture and comforts of my Southern roots are deeply woven into the ways I cook and care for the families I support.
CSWS: Do you have any daily self care practices that really serve you?
Mara: As a busy mama, dinacharya is absolutely necessary for my health and wellbeing. If my cup is empty, I’m not much help to my family or the families I serve. I see daily rituals as a practice of self care, but also as an act of service.
I wake early in the morning while the house is still quiet and begin the day with a prayer of gratitude. Then, I tend to my body by scraping my tongue, brushing my teeth, washing my face, and stretching. I finish by sitting for pranayama, a few moments of meditation, and drinking a glass of water. When I start my day from this place of connection I’m able to flow with the tides of life and greet challenges from a place of balance. It’s really a game changer.
CSWS: Who are some of your honored teachers along your learning journey of Ayurveda and postpartum care?
Mara: Ysha Oakes and Dr. Vasant Lad are the primary pillars of my studies. Their teachings carry on through their writings and students - many of whom I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of learning from. I completed the Conscious Postpartum Caregiver program with the Center of Sacred Window Studies. I’m now expanding my knowledge of Ayurvedic postpartum care and herbal remedies with Sarva Blackwell of Inner Sun and Moon. No doubt, Ayurveda is a learning journey for which I’ll be a lifelong student.
CSWS: Can you tell us more about what inspired you to write this cookbook?
Mara: Like many new mothers, I placed most of my focus on birth, leaving very little preparation for postpartum. I was completely blindsided by the difficulties of new motherhood. My partner, Juan, is a plant based chef so I never imagined feeding myself would be so challenging. At the time, we didn’t understand the delicacies of post-birth digestion. Though we did the best we could, we really needed a lifeline. Our postpartum experience inspired me to create that lifeline for other families.
CSWS: How were the recipes collected? Are they personal creations using Ayurvedic wisdom, or more traditional Ayurvedic recipes?
Mara: It’s a little mix of both. There are tried-and-true Ayurvedic recipes and herbal remedies included, as well as some personal creations. Juan nourished me during my own sacred window. I’ve included many of his dishes with a few modifications utilizing Ayurvedic wisdom.
CSWS: What can a new mother expect to find in this book that you think will be the most helpful postpartum?
Mara: The menu plan is so invaluable! There is so much to navigate postpartum. It’s a period of rapid change and adjustment. Speaking from my own experience, even when I was ravenously hungry I couldn’t begin to articulate what I wanted to eat - or more importantly what my body needed. I just wanted to rest and bond with my baby without figuring out how or what to feed myself.
This book takes so much of the guesswork out for you - there’s a full 6 week menu plan, pantry lists, and over 50 recipes. While it’s no replacement for the personal care of an Ayurdoula, for families who are unable to receive such care, this is a wonderful resource.
CSWS: Do you have a favorite recipe from your cookbook that you love to prepare for a new mom or even for yourself?
Mara: It’s amazing how taste and smell can conjure up memories. For me, the Matzo Ball Soup gets me everytime. My partner made it for me early postpartum and when I smell it I’m immediately taken back to those precious moments.That’s still a personal go-to of mine when I’m needing simplistic comfort. It feels extra special to share that recipe because it brought me such warmth during my sacred window.
Honestly though, there is something so magical about spiced Rice Pudding that I just love making for newborn mothers. It’s such a simple dish, but imbibed with so much love and tender care. It’s food for the soul.
CSWS: How does being a mom impact you and the choices you make as an entrepreneur?
Mara: My son, Kai, will be two soon and is the absolute light of my life. Motherhood impacts all facets of my life - especially when it comes to purpose and career. I have quite a lot of Kapha in my constitution, which is beautiful, but it also means taking action can be challenging. I’ve always had this knowing I’m here to do big healing work with women, but that remained a lofty dream until I became a mother. My son inspires me everyday to create the life I want. Motherhood has helped me “get out of my own way” so that I can live a purpose-driven life. I make choices as an entrepreneur that allow me the opportunity to be present with my family while still living out my passions. I’m showing my son that you can make a difference in the world and build wealth from providing heart-centered service. That’s a major shift in our lineage and one that I’m really proud of.
CSWS: What is your vision for the future of postpartum care?
Mara: Oh my goodness! I envision a world where all mamas are tended to with deep reverence and devotion. A world where women are afforded appropriate time to recover from birth, bond with her baby/babies, and adjust to her new role as mother. I envision her community showering her with love and supporting her transition on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level. She is provided warm, nourishing meals and rejuvenative herbal teas. Warm baths are drawn for her regularly. Her body receives loving touch with warm oils and is invited to heal and align with regular belly wrapping. Her emotions are honored and validated, allowing them to flow and release from her body. Breastfeeding is less of a struggle for her because she receives the proper support, encouragement, and wisdom needed to succeed. Her stresses are minimized so that she can relax into mothering. I could go on and on.
What excites me is that I can see this vision beginning to take place. Ayurdoulas around the world are reclaiming and implementing these beautiful post-birth practices with the families they serve. In doing so, they paint this picture in vivid color and the vision becomes clearer.
You know, in terms of the big picture, we are entering a time when the Divine Feminie (which lives in all of us) is rising and with that, I believe we will see a resurgence in the feminine rites of birthkeeping. We will also likely see an increase in the amount of birthers who intuit the process of birth as a rite of passage and the fundamental role postpartum care plays in their health and wellbeing. Mama Earth is healing herself and that has many of us returning to ancient ways. I believe women will begin to naturally feel an urge to turn toward the birthing practices of our ancestors - the elders who lived in a time and space when women were deeply intune with the rhythms of nature and our bodies. I’m thrilled for the future of postpartum care and I’m deeply honored to be a part of this movement toward remembering, reclaiming, and healing.
Ayurvedic Postpartum Doula
Transpersonal Healing Practitionerwww.mamaojas.com
Here at the Center for Sacred Window Studies, we share voices from many perspectives and backgrounds. We believe that the sacred weeks post birth, and the experience of humanity is experienced in countless ways. We learn by listening to one another and honoring our stories. The views and opinions of our writers do not necessarily reflect the mission, viewpoints or opinions of the Center for Sacred Window Studies.