Beauty Is Not Just Skin-Deep
An ancient traditional system of medicine, Ayurveda, denoting the ‘Science of Life’ is considered to be the oldest system of beauty and health care, with literature going back to an era where princesses used to bathe in milk. So that is about 5000 years ago or even before.
The saying “beauty is not just skin deep” has its origins in the ancient Ayurverdic texts.Ayurveda defines beauty as “subhanga karanam”, transforming all aspects of body and mind to the most auspicious level. In Ayurvedic belief, outer radiance and beauty comes from within. If an individual has found true equilibrium between his physical, mental and spiritual self their persona will radiate with beauty and charm.
Melanie Sachs, author of Ayurvedic Beauty Care, says “Ayurvedic beauty is about loving the skin you’re in, about learning how to bring out your best and be your best.”
How do we do this? By addressing imbalances on the physical, mental, and spiritual levels. Ayurveda has a very different approach to skin care from modern medicine. Rather than using topical solutions alone like creams, lotions, and oils,or cosmetic surgery, liposuction and face-lifts, Ayurveda treats the underlying skin problem at its root. The outer signs of beauty – your skin, hair and nails are more than just superficial measures of beauty. They are direct reflections of your overall health. These outer tissues are created by the inner physiological processes involved in digestion, metabolism and proper tissue development. Outer beauty depends more on the strength of your digestion and metabolism, the quality of your diet, and the purity of your blood, than on external cleansers and conditioners you may apply.
According to ayurveda, all skin diseases are due to imbalances of the five elements: air, earth, water, fire, and atmosphere. The body is made up of Tridoshas (Tri’ means ‘Three’ and ‘Doshas’ mean ‘Humours’) – Vata is Air, Pitta is Fire and Kapha is Water. Each dosha has a unique set of characteristics. Good health means a normalcy in the Tridoshas, balance of metabolic, systemic and excretory functions, all five senses and the mind and soul.The perfect balance of all these body systems, together with the maintenance of peace and happiness, leads to good health and vitality. Much of ayurveda revolves around techniques designed to keep your doshas, vata, pitta, and kapha, in balance.
Ayurvedic beauty care is highly individualized. “Ayurveda shows us that the formula to achieve balance is different for each person, depending upon his or her innate body type and temperament,” Dr Raichur, an ayurvedic consultant in Manhattan writes in Absolute Beauty. “As a result, there is no single type of treatment that can work for everyone, because not everyone is born with the same type of constitution or the same type of skin.” Ayurvedic medicine recognizes that each individual is unique and should follow dietary routines, physical exercises (Yoga), detoxification and rejuvenating treatments that are specific to their body and lifestyle to bring out the natural beauty. Ayurveda inspires us to cultivate long-lasting results with personalized lifestyle regimens and natural, food-based products that gently nourish, detox, and tone the skin from the inside out.
One of the first things to be done when it comes to skincare or general health in ayurveda is to change your diet. For instance, if you are the pita type, then all the pitta-aggravating foods should be constricted. That’s a no to pastas, cheese, tomatoes, garlic, onions and few other foods. And substitute your morning cup of joe for cooling drinks like aloe vera juice and coconut water. You need to tone down heating spices like garlic, oregano, and salt, and turn up cooling ones like parsley, dill, and mint. And eat more vegetables and fruits, while avoiding pitta aggravating nightshades and citrus.
Ayurveda outlines three steps to beautiful skin: cleanse, nourish, and moisturize. That sounds like standard operating procedure in the West, but not really. While we generally use soap to cleanse the skin, soap can dry the skin and alter its pH balance, causing it to become more alkaline. The skin is the body’s largest organ of absorption and it eats whatever you put on it. Raichur says “Think of your beauty products not as cosmetics but as food. If you cannot eat it, do not use it on your skin.” Ayurveda suggests using ubtans that is pastes made from herbs, flours, and legumes to cleanse and exfoliate the skin, and then nourishing and moisturizing with organic unrefined oils. Ancient ayurvedic texts like the Ashtanga Hridayam celebrate the benefits of body baths, including improved sleep and spiritual purification. Indian royalty once bathed in milk and honey to give their skin a celestial glow.
Ayurvedic experts suggest exercising at least five times a week until sweat forms along the spine. Exercise promotes sweating which aids the body of in getting rid of toxins, increases circulation, and calms the mind. Sleep is also an integral part of ayurvedic health, and I think we must have all heard the ‘8 hours of sleep a day’, and know it is important anyway, I don’t think we need to expound any further.
Yoga is the “latest fad” everywhere. If possible, one might want to consider joining the “fad”, since Ayurvedic wellness suggests incorporating a yoga practice into your day. Yoga helps circulate the lymph and blood, tones the muscles, and helps you connect with your breath—three actions that improve your beauty on subtle but important levels. Practice pranayama yogic breathing exercises as respiratory changes affect the skin and body as well as our moods and affects skin’s vitality and glow.
And really the ayurvedic scripts recommend you to stop worrying about aging. Make the best of what you have, and the best will come to you.
What’s the advice? Slow down and stick to a routine. Eat healthy, nourishing food in a mindful manner. Drink plenty of fluids, practice good sleep hygiene, and give yourself a full-body oil massage every day, it’s one of the best vata-pacifying, anti-aging practices in the world. Together, these activities can pave the way to lasting beauty.
Ironically, many of us think that being beautiful will make us happy, but Ayurveda teaches us that the truth is the other way around. Without happiness, lasting beauty is an unattainable goal. Happy, positive, loving, caring individuals have a special beauty that is far more than skin deep. Inner beauty is authentic beauty, not the kind that shows on a made-up face, but the kind that shines through from your soul, your consciousness or inner state of being. Inner beauty comes from a mind and heart that are in harmony. Inner peace is the foundation of outer beauty. And if you want to be beautiful, you must first create a whole and happy inner life.All ayurvedic practice is designed to help us reach this elevated state through a healthy balanced life-style infused with spiritual practice. Perhaps the most compelling argument for ayurvedic beauty care lies within its ancient philosophy: authentic lasting beauty radiates from the inside out. “We can learn a lot about inner beauty from Eastern systems,” says Kim Inglis, author of Ayurveda: Asian Secrets of Wellness, Beauty, and Balance. “Their tenets not only help in self-esteem and spiritual matters, they result in external beauty as well.”
Ayurveda upholds that the ultimate secret to radiant beauty is ojas, translated as “that which invigorates,” it is one of the three subtle vital essences that promote health, well-being, and vitality. By creating a lifestyle that is in harmony on all three levels, physical, mental, and spiritual, we can replenish ojas. That means eating properly, breathing properly, thinking properly, and using the right oils and herbs for your constitution. Harmony creates health, health creates peace of mind, and peace of mind gives you a healthy glow. Ayurveda recommends a two pronged approach to beauty, an external routine and an internal routine.
As said by Dr. Rama Kant Mishra, renowned Ayurvedic physician and dermatologist, “Every person is born perfect. Inferiority is a mistake of the mind, a cloud covering the light. Dissolve the clouds by observing a balanced life with healthy habits. Nourish your mind and body. Connect with your own inner self. Celebrate your own magnificence and your beauty will always shine through.”
Ideally, you should consult with an ayurvedic professional to custom-tailor a program for your specific needs or, at the very least, try finding your dosha type through tests and refer to ayurvedic books with body-mind beauty practices suited to you. They’re safe for men, women, and children of all ages.