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HINU Home Volume 3. Shay Maclean

Our HINU Home series explores the personal connection we have with our hair and the way rituals help bring us back home to ourselves.

Photography by Ben Rayner

HINU Home Volume 3. Shay Maclean

Our HINU Home series explores the personal connection we have with our hair and the way rituals help bring us back home to ourselves.

Photography by Ben Rayner

"From the moment I had accepted that I was both my problem & my solution, my poison & my medicine, was the first time in my life I felt totally 'in control' of my mind, and for me that was like winning the jackpot."

Shay Maclean, a certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and therapist, is the visionary force behind Ayupōtheca, established in the tranquil setting of Byron Bay in 2019. Her path to Ayurveda is a tale of resilience, born from a quest for healing and light amid the shadows of anxiety and depression.
Shay invited us into her world, sharing how her struggles led her to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, which has since become the bedrock of her health and happiness.

What inspired you to study Ayurvedic medicine? 

Darkness was (and perhaps still is) my greatest motivator; crippling anxiety & debilitating depression created immense suffering inside me as a young teen and the experience of such life threatening darkness at such a young age was the major catalyst which forced me to urgently and prematurely embark on a journey to seek more light in my mind for the sake of my own sanity.

Though no one can escape the human condition - that is suffering - I did have a family history of 'mental illness', and witnessing my mother's battle with severe postnatal depression (after birthing me) and the 11 shock-treatments she had to her delicate brain. I guess was what first exposed me to the kind of intangible suffering that was actually possible inside humans, and how in her case tangible medication & invasive medical intervention was not necessarily the answer. And not only the fact that this level of darkness was the sad reality for someone who was so incredibly dear to me but that it also gripped tightly onto me. My life quest from the age of 14 was to take my mother's pain (along with my own at that time) away.

This ultimately lead me down a truth seeking path for real medicine, real food, real freedom and real peace; which is when this almighty Ayur (life) veda (knowledge/wisdom), found me. The mother of all medicine picked up all my 'broken' pieces and walked me safely back home to myself again. She empowered me to face my darkness, my shadows, with true conviction and in return she gifted me the life tools to move beyond my suffering at any given moment. She showed me the way forward to a more sustainable and balanced mental, emotional, spiritual and physical way of being. And as a by product, happiness and health naturally resulted.

From the moment I had accepted that I was both my problem & my solution, my poison & my medicine, was the first time in my life I felt totally 'in control' of my mind, and for me that was like winning the jackpot. I felt as though I had finally uncovered the secret of living a pain free life and I knew it was my soul-mission, my dharma, in this life to help decode these ancient secrets (or natures algorithms rather) and share them with the rest of the world! At the ripe age of 20 I was deeply compelled to formally study, officially graduating from Adv. Dip of Ayurvedic Medicine at Byron Ayurveda College under Prof. Vaidya/Dr. Jason Chandler by the age of 25 - I knew studying would provide me with life-long skills & invaluable knowledge of how to actually 'heal myself' and my loved ones. I also loved how there was no 'fluff', the lectures from the classical texts were poetic, yet extremely logical. From day one I learnt, if health isn't a pill, its certainly not a herb, and that was the moment I knew this kind of unorthodox wisdom would carry me for the rest of my life, and in every area of my life! It would qualify me the ability to heal myself and maybe help somebody else heal themselves, and that is the kind of 'medicine' the world needs.

How do you incorporate Ayurvedic practices into your daily life?

Firstly, I'd like to say thank you for asking me 'how' and not 'what' because everyday looks a little different in terms of 'what practices I actually do', because just as they Vedic sages would say - "its not what we do in life that really matters, its how we do it"! So basically my answer is - I wake with the sun, eat with the sun, pray with the sun, play with the sun & sleep with the sun; it's as simple as that really. The reason Ayurveda provides dina (day) charya (rituals & regimes), ritu (seasonal) charya etc. is because in order to be truly happy and healthy, our circadian rhythms (internal body clocks) must sync with the rhythms of nature, which means achieving health/happiness is actually so simple yet as a modern society, we complicate everything.

Shay is using the Jade Scalp Stimulator.

We are so far removed from nature that we actually don't have the exposure to the external stimuli to tell us when to feel tired, hungry etc anymore, so therefore we no longer remember 'how' or 'what' we should be doing in order to maintain basic homeostasis (balance). This is why I love the classical Ayurvedic texts because they have poetically written everything down to remind and guide us back home. It was even written in the stars (through Jytoish/vedic astrology) that one day the collective consciousness would essentially 'forget', which is the reason this ancient wisdom is particularly relevant and profoundly healing in modern times.

What hair rituals do you currently do? Has Ayuvedic medicine influenced the way you care for your hair?

Currently I do nothing (except swim in the ocean, rinse with fresh water & rehydrate with HINU oil and spray as needed). I love how these two products are so multipurpose, I also use them on my body and face for hydration and as delicate perfume). And most definitely YES - adhering to rigid commercialised daily regimes that we're constantly bombarded with through what's considered to be exceptionally good marketing (thanks AI), is the first thing Ayurveda taught me not to follow; first we subtract, before adding anything, always create SPACE first!

This is the general rule of thumb for everything when considering what to add into our diet or lifestyle even if it's 'natural' doesn't mean its not harmful or even necessary for that matter. And because the ether/space element is of particular dominance in my natural constitution (I'm mostly Vata type, then pitta) it's the first element I resonate with (hence why I love wabi sabi, minimalistic concepts and self-care) but its also the first element to get aggravated within me (which is why clutter and overwhelm of any kind instantly aggravates me)! Nature isn't rigid either, it's extremely dynamic, constantly changing and we must adapt to these changes and currently I am travelling overseas so a minimal approach is my medicine right now. 

What relationship do you have with your hair? Has it evolved over the years?

To be truthfully honest, my entire life I was dreadfully ashamed of my natural blonde hair as I was constantly bullied for it growing up (pigeon holed into the dumb blonde category) and therefore I automatically hated it and wanted to look different! Up until the past couple of years, even though I had the tools to change such silly conditioning, I still defaulted into a low self-esteem corner when it came to my hair.

But upon much meditation and introspection I began forging a deeper connections with my ancestors and managed to find a new appreciation for what I was gifted and to be proud of who I was.. Such a shame because I spent most my life completely unaware that most women spend thousands of dollars each year to maintain their hair to the colour I was natually born with, I now see the privilege I was given.

My late grandmother's nick name was also Blondie, and in honour of her I made a promise to myself that I would wear my blonde hair loud and proud. On another note, hair in Ayurveda is considered to be highly sacred, they say our hair is the human antenna, or planetary connection to the universe, perhaps that was a contributing factor as to why I suffered so much mentally because I denied my hair the ability to connect me with the universal Source, to the light..... 

Shay is using the Hair Growth Oil.
I love how music has this magic ability to transport us anywhere, one can feel enlightened in an instant! I have listed 8 songs as its an extremely auspicious number according to Ayurveda and may whoever listens to this playlist be showed in blessings:
I. Your Voice - 10ft. ganja plant
II. Bingin - Jon Swift, Rob Machado
III. Reckless - Australian Crawl
IV. The times are tired - Alaskan tapes
V. Cowpoke - Colter Wall
VI. Eu Nao Existo Sem Voce - Rosa Pasos
VII. Into my arms - Nick Cave
VIII. Three Little Birds - Bob Marley

Listen on Spotify.

Follow Shay Maclean & Ben Rayner 
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