The Prana House, located on 109 N. Church St. in downtown West Chester, provides a welcoming space for all individuals to learn and practice herbal remedies and holistic medicine.
The Prana House is a business that stands by its integrity by supplying guaranteed natural, organic, earth based and sustainable products, an alternative form of healing for things as simple as the common cold to deeper wounds of the past. The Prana House came about five years ago when it was initially intended to be a yoga studio and shop, but has since then evolved into something that its owner, Jacquie Maldonado, holds very close to her heart. Prana means “life force.”
We as humans can have good prana or bad prana. Everything found in the store is intended to cultivate good prana for mind, body and soul.
Growing up, Maldonado and her family practiced an eastern approach to healing and medicine. Cultures that exercise eastern practices tend to gravitate towards a natural way of healing, using what Mother Nature offers: herbs, plants and animals.
Another important factor instilled in Maldonado growing up was the encouragement to explore and respect other forms of spirituality. After moving across the country to attend school at Drexel University, she noticed a decline in her health, struggled with her weight and what she had practiced her whole life had drifted away. She made the choice to change her eating habits and become a vegetarian.
This sparked an interest in the benefits and disadvantages of the food we as a population are consuming.
Maldonado soon learned that the labels that read “organic” in stores weren’t actually as organic as we are led to believe. This is due to a gap in government regulations that many big corporations are taking advantage of. She felt deceived but knew she wasn’t the only one misguided in her efforts to improve her health. Through this misconception, it was ignited in her. Maldonado rediscovered and studied the ideologies of her past, as well as learned more about the way the organic foods are produced, sold, and consumed by people, particularly in the United States. Now a certified yoga instructor, Maldonado talked about how her passion for yoga came about.
“Finding yoga helped me cultivate a good relationship with my body by being physically fit but also opening up my eyes and heart to different forms of spirituality, which had been a part of my life in the past,” said Maldonado.
Regarding an individual’s journey to spiritual growth, The Prana House has readings and books on different forms of spirituality, from Buddhism to Wicca. You can also find self-help books and earth based related forums. Additionally, they sell an array of crystals, which for some provide metaphysical and meditative healing.
Due to her cultural background, she was aware that herbs were and still are a major part of the eastern approach to medicine and healing for hundreds of years. After she received her certification in herbalism, The Prana House evolved into what it is today. It assimilated everything she is passionate about.
The Prana House utilizes the services of the Environmental Working Group Corp (EWG).
EWG is a nonprofit organization that places products on a platform that measures the level of toxicity in it. This allows consumers to see which companies are actually following the standards of what is considered to be truly organic, and being truthful in the practices of the businesses by scanning a barcode, which then measures the toxicity level on a scale from one to 10. The Prana House makes sure that the products in store measure no more than a two on this toxicity scale. It is guaranteed that all of the apothecary products are highest of quality, fair trade, non-GMO and even kosher certified. It is important to understand recommendations and suggestions are available and given based on the herbalist’s personal past experience, or learned through the practices of others.
Another important aspect to The Prana House is the incorporation and support of local businesses. Maldonado emphasized the support she has for women business owners, a way to express advocacy for women and girl empowerment. Just Skin Food and Bee Organics are a couple of the local businesses whose products are sold in store. These products include homeopathic remedies, high grade, natural body creams, makeup, lotions, medicinal oils and soaps. It also reaches out to local artisans who are just starting out, because the idea of community and sustainability is especially valued at The Prana House.
Personalities of employees and regulars come into play in the store’s decor, but all the while keeping it within the realm of healing and growth. For example, the art portrayed on the walls are a practice of healing or spiritual for some, which is celebrated here at The Prana House. The Prana House also encourages and welcomes other healers to share their knowledge.
Maldonado holds workshops monthly. The anticipated opening of the Holistic Center in May, which will be located in the basement of The Prana House, will allow Maldonado and her team to offer those interested in taking more classes, workshops and eventually courses.
Annie Margle is a third-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in Spanish. Contact her at AM802063@wcupa.edu