After being recommended pills, steroids, and immunosuppressants for an autoimmune disease that left her bedridden, Aala Marra decided to take matters into her own hands, launching an entrepreneurial journey of holistic wellness.
After curing herself from a severe autoimmune disease, Aala founded aalaCare, a three-month program that helps others address their health and wellness holistically, addressing the root cause of symptoms. aalaCare helps people with chronic illnesses ranging from lupus to PCOS to migraines to pre-diabetes.
Aala is an author, impact entrepreneur, and media personality, best known for her success story in healing herself from an autoimmune illness.
Aala spoke with Her Agenda to impart the wisdom she gleaned from her career as a healer and holistic health practitioner.
Her Agenda: Your path into the holistic healing world began when you got sick yourself in 2015— can you tell us about your illness?
Aala Marra: After college, my health started to deteriorate, and it really took a lot from me. It really changed my life— it felt like an existential hell to me because I kept getting these symptoms where my hair was falling out, I started to experience really drastic symptoms in my skin, muscular and nervous system-related symptoms, muscle spasms, joint pain, and things that a college grad should not experience.
I kept going to see so many different doctors and nobody had answers for me. They kept trying to put me on medication or they kept punting me off to others, and it was over a year of testing and trying to figure it out. It was an extremely demoralizing process.
After college, my health started to deteriorate, and it really took a lot from me. It really changed my life— it felt like an existential hell.
Her Agenda: What led you down the path of holistic healing to address these symptoms?
Aala Marra: What led me down that path was feeling really fed up with having to pay so much money to see so many different specialists and not actually moving forward or seeing any results. If I’m going to keep it real, it was very miserable for me, that existence. I was really desperate to try anything else.
My mental health got to a place where it was really dark, I was really depressed, I actually even attempted suicide. Thankfully I’ve grown and I’ve healed all of that and I’ve understood what freedom means. All of that needed to happen in order for me to be where I am today, so I’m so grateful for the entire experience.
Her Agenda: How does your past experience with an autoimmune disease impact your work today?
Aala Marra: I teach a three-month program on the entire process of healing your body. It focuses on different aspects of holistic healing from food to herbs to mind/body work, epigenetic work, and breathwork. It’s a really multifaceted approach to healing where you’re seeing the body as multiple different bodies and you’re really addressing a lot of things on so many different fronts because you understand how the brain, heart, digestive system, and liver work.
The biggest and the best thing that I can say about wellness is that you deserve it.
I healed myself through all the holistic methods that I teach currently in my program and through my platform. The way that my experience impacts my work is that I have a very realistic insight as to what that process is like and how to go about healing. My work comes from a very genuine place of really wanting everyone to win and empowering them to know that they are able to heal from anything and everything. It’s the sincerity and realness that impacts my work today, and also the dedication to the mission.
Her Agenda: You cover a wide range of health and wellness topics. What wellness advice has impacted you personally the most throughout your life?
Aala Marra: I don’t know if anyone taught me this, this is something I believe I received from God. The best thing that anyone can gift themselves is the ability to be open. Open is one of my favorite four-letter words— it means opening yourself up to so many different things. Opening up yourself to the possibility of healing, to thriving again. There are so many things that happen to us as humans whether it’s trauma, really stressful times, chronic illnesses, significant life events that impact you, that can close you up in so many ways. A lot of the healing is found in being open. Sometimes when you close yourself off to the possibility of reclaiming yourself and what you can do with your body, you can block a lot of the healing that is coming your way that is also coming from within you.
Her Agenda: What are some of the biggest misconceptions about wellness that you often come across?
Aala Marra: People think wellness is something you have to do, as opposed to meeting your most authentic self. There are a lot of things in wellness, especially nutritional wellness, focused on cutting things out, and while eliminating certain things is important, there’s a lot of understanding that has to go into what the body needs and how the body works.
Being healthy and being well means not falling down a trap of guilt or shame. That’s not the direction wellness is supposed to be pushing us in, it’s supposed to be pushing us toward more self compassion and grace.
There’s a lot of illness management in the wellness world and not enough about true, full healing. It’s talked about in a way that’s like, “You could potentially, in rare cases, heal, but this is how you live a life where you’re managing your symptoms.”
Another misconception is that wellness has to be costly. Some of the things that I teach you can do anywhere at any time. There are mind/body practices that you can practice without having to go anywhere or do anything outside of your budget.
Her Agenda: What do wellness and gratitude look like for you in 2020?
Aala Marra: This year has taken a toll on humanity, I do recognize how this year has been so tough on so many people, so many lives were taken. So many people are suffering, so that’s something I deeply acknowledge and I send so much love.
For me, in the space of everything that’s changed, being able to know how to come back into myself and to pour into myself, and to see myself and to cater to my needs and fulfill what it is that I need has been instrumental to my mental and emotional health. I’m grateful for the earth and my ability to make contact with the earth and nature.
I’m thankful for being able to be within the frequency of gratitude, especially in a year like this one. It’s challenging for a lot of people to even understand what to be grateful for. I’m grateful for all the necessities and the basics that I have, and I’m grateful for me and for all the ways I’m showing up for myself.
Her Agenda: As an entrepreneur, what is a practice that has played a role in your success?
Aala Marra: My outlook as an entrepreneur is that this is all purpose-driven. I feel like a lot of entrepreneurs have this grind and hustle mentality, and there’s no shade to that, but for me, I’m after the prosperity of people.
My metrics for success are seeing other people healthy— that’s what I’m after. My focus is very purpose-driven, and with that, my abundance flows. I have a very spiritual approach to entrepreneurship, and it’s one that’s rooted and based in service.
Her Agenda: How do you stay motivated when you experience disappointments in your career?
Aala Marra: The no is their opinion. You could give me a no and I give myself a yes. I’m very non-traditional when it comes to all of that because you can tell me no and not acknowledge me and deny me, but what’s meant for me is always going to be for me. At the end of the day, whether you say no or yes that’s on you. I’m just going to keep moving authentically in my own purpose, and I trust opportunities will open up for me, and I also create my own. I’ll do what I have to do to work with the emotions that come up as it relates to my ego, and then I’ll go make a yes somewhere else.
Her Agenda: What are your goals for 2021?
Aala Marra: One of my biggest goals is to remain more spiritually grounded and go deeper into my practices and continue the work that I’ve been doing. Professionally, I want to expand aalaCare, reach more people, build out my team, and hire and train new people. I want to amplify the message of what we’re doing and shift the culture on health and wellness and what people believe to be attainable within their own bodies and lives.
Her Agenda: What is one piece of wellness advice you think everyone should hear?
Aala Marra: The biggest and the best thing that I can say about wellness is that you deserve it. Period. Everyone deserves it. If you’re a human, you need wellness and you’re worthy of it. The best advice I could ever give is to open yourself up and give yourself permission to bring wellness into your life, because you deserve it.
My metrics for success are seeing other people healthy— that’s what I’m after.
One of the most important things is to hold compassion and grace for yourself. Being healthy and being well [means] not falling down a trap of guilt or shame. That’s not the direction wellness is supposed to be pushing us in, it’s supposed to be pushing us toward more self compassion and grace. Especially during these times, being a little bit more tender with yourself and your body in all ways, and honoring yourself and meeting yourself where you’re at.
[Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]