The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help detoxify and rid the body of excess fluids and waste. It's complex and continuing to be more clearly understood by scientists, but it's also becoming a cornerstone system to tend to for ultimate self-care.
Enter, Anna Zahn. Wellness aficionado, lymphatic-massage expert, creator, actress, writer, seeker, self-care advocate.
To educate us on our "invisible system", we tapped, Zahn, a Wisconsin-to West coast transplant with a rose-colored eye, a healing touch, and high praise from not only our girl Djuna Bel, but everyone that is fortunate enough to be in her hands. Anna takes a cellular approach to skincare and has launched her Los Angeles-based Ricari Studios (a Sanskrit word, meaning "brilliance"), where her treatments to cleanse the lymph range from drainage massage (using a hi-tech/hi-powered vacuum-type machine) to dry brushing (and soon-to-launch infrared sauna!) But energizing skin cells is far from Zahn's only line of work (as mentioned above). To sum up what she does, the words "creating a universe" was how she could clearly define it.
After experiencing a nourishing drainage massage first-hand, we had an equally life-giving conversation with the woman our favorite wellness junkies flock to.
Read below for Anna's journey, her wellness packed morning routine, the recipe for her "Super Coffee", and why caring for our lymph is the ultimate foundation for overall health and anti-aging.
Can you share your journey with us, and how you became a healer and what drew you to this path of wellness and self-care?
Oh boy, the word healer never felt comfortable to me, nor was that ever something I set out to do or be. I have lots of healers, but I've never really considered myself one. It prompts a sort of looming pressure or responsibility to heal people, when really I feel more like a catalyst for people healing themselves. My whole practice is essentially that.
It feels pretty impossible to summarize all the twists and turns that somehow led me here. It's a kind of alchemy of life experiences and defining choices - and there are so many. I suppose I can start with a definitive moment I can recall that pushed me in this direction. I was working for a film and television casting director my last year of high school in New York, and was surprisingly accepted into some prestigious college programs. I was shocked, as I was never the best student, but knew the choice would have significant value in my life and thus approached her for guidance. She told me that for the rest of my life, I'm never going to want to be professionally beholden to the wills of others. I should learn as much as I can about things that interest me the most, and do so in a way that allows me to command and create. I think that was some of the best advice I was ever given and I've sort of operated that way ever since.
The power of following my waves of interest remain undiminished for me, and my overall dedication feels counter intuitive to the wide eyed, pioneering archetype I've adopted. I would've imagined myself to be more scattered at this point, which I'm sure is perceived at times, but in reality I feel very committed to my work. And yes, sometimes the work can feel quite vast; perhaps that's another reason why the word healer feels foreign to me - because I do so many other things as well.
Despite the variation, I have determined that the center of my interest lies an insatiable love for and interest in human experience and expression. It's like a marvelous secret garden that I can perpetually explore. Even after years of practice I still find myself in awe at the fact that people come to me and completely bare themselves in such beautiful vulnerability - what an honorable and humbling experience.
What makes you feel so connected to what you do?
I think every story begins with you as somebody else - a dream, an ideal, a vision of the future, and if you’re lucky you end up with yourself. I've always envisioned myself working closely with human experience, whether it was as a stage performer, or a writer, or in this case one on one in a room. I can proudly say that I have indeed ended up with myself, living my dream in a way. I hope to continue to do so, and if I'm lucky encourage that in others.
Why is it important to take care of your lymph?
The lymphatic system is an intricate network of lymph nodes, lymph ducts, and lymph vessels residing just beneath the surface of the skin. It's in charge of eliminating cellular waste, storing and distributing fat/fat-soluble vitamins, and absorbing fluid to minimize swelling. It’s a vital system that directly affects cellulite, bloating, fatty buildup, circulation, skin elasticity, respiratory health, cellular aging, and immunity. Though we naturally encourage our lymph system’s functions with breathing, water intake, and daily bodily movements, modern living often prompts a more sedentary lifestyle, inundated with more stress and toxin exposure that can build up and create sluggishness. Aside from the wonderful aesthetic benefits of taking care of your lymph system, the health and anti-aging advantages alone are enough to spend some time bringing more awareness to supporting your lymph system.
What are some ways we can take care of our lymphatic system everyday?
I like to keep it easy as we are constantly inundated with more tips than we can keep track of let alone integrate; hydrate, rest and stimulate. Try to drink at least half your body weight in fluid ounces each day, add in stimulation when you can, and be sure to give your body and nervous system proper time to rejuvenate through rest and relaxation. I like to dry brush before I get in the shower, and if I forget I spend some time massaging my face and body when I apply oils or creams. I also love to take naps and always need a good nights sleep to feel in flow.
A skincare and wellness routine is obviously super important to you, and you've got the glow to prove it. Can you share your morning routine and the products you swear by?
Quite often I wake and don’t have the luxury to play out my ideal routine. Depending on the ebb and flow of social stimulation and projects, I’m allowed a more active morning, and sometimes rest is more important. I can sleep until the very last minute, roll out of bed, wash my face, dry shampoo and hit the road makeup-less with swishing cold brew in a mason jar, or I can wake up early and move through an extensive wellness routine. I try to listen to my need for movement or stillness, which is not always measured by physicality alone (if I’ve been overly active with my mind or emotions I might need more stillness or inactivity to feel balanced), but if I do have the good fortune to have my perfect active morning, this is what I do:
+ Wake up, take my temperature, and input it into my Natural Cycles App
+ Oil pull with Mojave Desert Skin Sheild Detoxifying Pulling Oil and turn on my infrared sauna
+ Make my "wellness shot" - juice fresh lemon, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, hemp oil, and cayenne while the sauna heats up
+ Take the "Wellness Shot"
+ Sip a glass of water while I make my "Super Coffee" (see below)
+ Sauna, mediate, roll my face with an ice roller, drink water and my super coffee for 20-30 minutes or until I break a sweat / sometimes I switch out a sauna sweat for a pilates class
+ Throw on my favorite Marysia swimsuit and bike to the beach to cold plunge in the ocean
+ Return home, dry brush, shower, apply body oil (it changes a lot, but I always return to basic olive oil) and finish my skincare routine with P50 400 Toner, Odacite Youthful Glow Serum or Skinceuticals CE feurulic, and Supergoop moisturizer/spf. I work in facial massage techniques as I apply.
+ Have some breakfast if I’m feeling hungry
ANNA'S "ADD TO CART" PRODUCT LIST:
- Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water / IS Clinical Cleanser
- P50 400 Toner
- Odacite Youthful Glow Serum or Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Vitamin C Serum
- Supergoop Moisturizer/SPF
- Olga Lorencin Eye cream
- ZIIP - I’m absolutely obsessed with it and recommend to all my clients
- If I’m wearing makeup, remove with an oil cleanser: May Lindstrom or Tata Harper Cleansing Oil
- IS Clinical Cleanser / Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water
- P50 400 Toner or IS Active Serum
- Control Corrective Oil-Free Healing Lotion
- Olga Lorencin Eye cream
- Grande Brow Serum
- Grande Lash Serum
- Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask
WEEKLY EXFOLIATION / MASK /STIMULATION
- Masque Vivant (add baking soda for breakouts)
- Arcona Cranberry Gommage Exfoliation
- Dr Dennis Gross Peel Pads
- 20 - 30 minute facial massage with May Lindstrom or Tata Harper Cleansing Oil
- Fascia Face Blaster with oil
Can you give us an insider tip and share the best of the best/must-have products for at-home lymphatic stimulation?
- Recharge Ionic Dry Brush
- Tata Harper Smoothing Body Scrub
- Dr. Singha Mustard Bath
- Infrared Ameythst Mat (I keep mine on my couch, hidden under a blanket so that it's easily accessible for myself and my guests)
- Cupping Therapy Set
- Cellulite Massager Body Roller Brush
- At-home mini trampoline
- Brazilian Bum Bum Cream
- Fascia Blaster
Ok, lastly we need the recipe for your "Super Coffee"! (ed note: we've had it, and we can swear it is 100% SUPER!)
Ingredients (I change them up depending on my mood/needs - sometimes I switch out coffee for black tea):
Then I add:
+ raw honey
+ himalayan salt
+ coconut milk or creamer
All of this goes in the blender for 30 seconds and voila, "Super Coffee"!
Why is self-care so important?
We live in a unique time where technology is changing our lives faster than we can imagine, as we sit behind more computer screens day by day. Technology is so vital and incredible, yes, but without balance we can forget how important it is to connect with ourselves and become fully present with the people and places around us. There’s something intrinsically valuable about sinking our feet into the earth, massaging our skin, reading a book, enjoying a meal, connecting with each other. Self-care not only feels satisfying, but it reminds us of the importance of taking care of our bodies and of each other. Self care reconnects us to our humanity, and our vulnerability.
You talk about "creating a universe"-- what does that mean for you, and how are you actively trying to create your dream universe and create a base for creativity?
During a session with my therapist, Dr. Megan Poe, we were investigating my difficulty and anxiety around answering people when asked "So, what do you do?" and she said "Well that's sort of like asking a spaceship which model car they are." I sort of ran with the metaphor in envisioning the life I wanted to create. Rather than something singular, like one title, one job, one profession, one planet, I strive to build a life like a universe - ever expanding, galaxies, planets, matter and space. I ruminate on that image often, and it reminds me to continue driving towards a life more vast. Perhaps it's idealistic, but I've never achieved anything I've been proud of by listening to all the "no's". I hold steadfast to the belief that I can run a company, engage clients, write, consult, perform, produce, creative direct, engage in meaningful relationships - whatever it may be. It takes some artistry to align everything in a way that creates resonance, and fumbling is inevitable, but I believe it is possible for everything to find a healthy orbital pace. With this perspective I feel drawn irrevocably towards nurturing creativity, in myself and others. The idea and practice of space itself creates a base. That doesn't mean my life is void of the daily barrage of deadlines, bills, and scheduling, but life feels more like an adventure, an epic space flight if you will, than a perpetual, repeating wheel of existence.
Who or what is inspiring you right now?
It changes daily, but my inspiration is always of hedonistic origin. I suppose the easiest way to pick would be to rattle off my current inspirations of the senses.
Sound: "The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier" by Terry Callier
Taste: MTN Veggie Ramen in Venice
Feel: Bodywork by Zumi Vance
Smell: Byredo Bibliotheque Candle
Sight: The work of artist Sanam Khatibi
What would you like your legacy to be?
That's such a loaded question that I'm sure will shift and morph over time - but I would say at present I feel a responsibility as both a creative and business owner to stand up for what I believe in, to challenge the ossified nature of our environment - to speak, facilitate, support, and encourage creation that's dynamic within it. And you never do that without personal risk, you never do it without offending somebody, you never do it without vulnerability, failure, and rejection because you’re always speaking into an environment of judgment, competition, or some perceived threat. That risk is vital to the artistic process, it's vital to navigating the uncharted waters of running a business, it’s intrinsic to everything we do that matters. In that vulnerability we can become excitedly uncomfortable in one another’s existence and struggle, and within that, you create a site where you can become truly present and alive. You create a landscape where people can support each other, and feel comfortable not always knowing the answer. So I suppose I'd like to leave a legacy that leads people towards that, and exist as someone who's successfully inhabiting a multifaceted existence, a vast universe if you will, where you can indeed master many trades and follow numerous avenues in this entrepreneurial, technological renaissance.