Simple, Sparkling Beauty

Ways to look your radiant best during the holidays and all-year-round with ayurveda!

Ayurveda believes that true beauty is composed of three vital elements: a well-nourished body, a balanced mind, and a peaceful spirit. Achieving all three might seem like a lot of hard work, but here's the good news. Ayurvedic beauty secrets are astonishingly simple. And you are about to discover them — right here, right now!

Nine simple steps that will launch you on a beautiful journey:

S-T-R-E-T-C-H: Ever seen a cat stretch its supple body? The way it lengthens every muscle — lazily, luxuriously, deeply? What is it doing in that moment? It is being fully present in its body, practicing awakened relaxation. At the same time, it is giving you a lesson in physical fitness. Every morning, give yourself some time out for exercise. Yoga not only nourishes the body, but strengthens the mind and nurtures the spirit. Don't work yourself to the limit, however. Using up just about half of your total energy reserve will give your circulation a boost, while also loosening ama or accumulated toxins, urging it toward exit points. Could there be an easier, more pleasurable beauty tip?!

BREEEATHE: Right from the minute we're born, we know the "breathe in, breathe out" routine. But right now, as you read this article, ask yourself — am I breathing right? Stop for an instant, and observe your rhythm of "inhale-exhale." Chances are, you're breathing too shallow — just in and out of your upper chest. Ayurveda recommends breathing deep and slow. Inhale so that you can feel the air reach into your abdomen. Take care not to breathe too fast, because if your Vata vahi shrotas, or air circulating channels, are not clear, the oxygen will be distributed unequally in your body, and that can do more harm than good. Therefore, keep the pace easy and the rhythm steady. The use of a therapeutic essential oil or blend at this time — lavender, rose and jasmine are good choices — will support your deep-breathing activity. Do this at least twice a day for 10 minutes each, and your skin will radiate bliss. Deep breathing also brings instant calm, and serenity is one of the essential elements of beauty.

TURN DOWN THE NOISE: The rich and the famous make a conscious effort to get more silence into their lives. They build and buy retreats in remote islands and mountains. Fortunately, it's perfectly possible to invite that silence into your own life at absolutely no cost. All you have to do is, well, nothing. Just for a few hours, every now and then, say nothing. Hear nothing. Filter the noise out of your life, and tune in to your inner self. This means no phone calls, no pagers, no television, no conversation, not even the computer or books — just true, deep silence that connects you to yourself. Ayurvedic philosophy says this increases your spiritual density, making you a person of substance.

From your ultra-hectic schedule, steal 20 minutes in the morning and evening to give your mind the rest it craves. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation® technique does more than relax your tired body and mind. It puts you back in contact with yourself and provides numerous benefits to mind and body. And by helping your mind and body stay balanced, TM® contributes to your goal of looking and feeling truly beautiful.

TIGHTEN UP: Discipline is one of the most powerful beauty ingredients. And it need not be painful at all. Ayurveda has a very intelligent approach to cultivating beauteous habits: it asks you to weave little acts of discipline into the small routines of life. Look at them as small favors you are doing yourself. Like leaving just one-quarter of your stomach empty when you eat a big meal. Or spending 15 extra minutes in the bath to give your skin a pampering massage. Rising early in the morning. Paying closer attention to the way you brush your teeth and clean your tongue. To the hurried and the harried, these little favors might seem like punishments at first, but when the rewards start to come in — and that happens almost immediately — you learn to look at beauty with fresh eyes.

LIGHTEN UP: Ayurvedic philosophy, being so intimate with nature, believes less is more. And that applies to skin care, too. Don't work your skin too hard. Give it a vacation! Keep it free of lipstick, mascara, and concealers that contain chemicals your skin can do without. Remember, your skin absorbs everything it touches. Once you start thinking of your beauty products as food, you'll never buy synthetic ones again.

Just like the petals of a delicate blossom, your skin needs to breathe. Just keep it clean, and protect it from the glare of the sun, the friction of the wind and the chemicals in pollutants. Remember, most of your skin-care routine is geared toward purification and protection — all those other lotions and creams are only supplements to a good basic beauty routine.

EAT FOR THE SPIRIT: Ayurveda urges you to spend time and attention on the preparation of your food. This not only ensures you choose the best ingredients and cook in the best way possible, but also that you make your food a visual feast. Keep the flavors simple, the portions austere. But make the presentation so stylish it feeds the senses and satisfies the soul. The very act of eating should be an exercise in grace. Let the mouthfuls be small and dainty. Savor each morsel. Put your fork down between mouthfuls. While eating, keep your posture perfect: straight spine, and a relaxed stillness to the body. All these habits promote automatic portion control — eating precisely what your physiology needs. Soon, eating right will become a habit.

Bonus: Most foods ayurveda recommends have tremendous healing value, too. Think ghee (clarified butter), whole grains, lightly-cooked fruit, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, legumes and herbal tea. Many of these foods are said to possess anti-aging, hair-nurturing and skin-strengthening properties.

PLAY WITH PACKS: Ayurveda doesn't believe in trying to outrun the time clock. It advises you to work towards graceful aging right from the beginning, when the skin is naturally young and beautiful. The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians recommends gentle, all-natural face packs for every kind of skin. Many of the ingredients used in these packs are like medicine for the skin. See below for skin-care packs and masks.

THE BEAUTY BATH: Ayurveda invites you to make your daily bath a pleasurable, healthful ritual. A 15- to 20-minute massage with warm sesame oil can work wonders for the way you feel. This self-massage nourishes the seven different layers of the skin, as well as the seven different types of body tissue. It is also considered ayushkar — conducive to longevity. Specifically, it is also considered twak-dardhya — helping to increase the firmness of the skin. Further, such a massage is considered jarahar — capable of "destroying" old age; shramhar — helping to reduce physical and mental fatigue; and mrijavard balapradha — something that purifies the skin, enhances the complexion and makes it more radiant and attractive.

SELF-IMAGE: Ayurveda urges you to remember a universal but often-forgotten truth: each one of us is beautiful in his or her own way. Sadly, few of us are ever truly secure about the way we look. Even if your physical features are less than perfect, you can be the picture of grace and beauty, say ayurvedic beauty experts. How? Simply by changing the viewing angle: starting to cultivate gunam, or inner, non-physical beauty attributes like elegance, grace, kindness, softness, and creative energy. Supplement these natural elements with consciously cultivated roopam, or physical assets like graceful movement, good posture, relaxed manner and calm voice — and you'll start feeling truly beautiful.

SKIN RECIPES

Here is a sampling of recipes to start you off on your skinsational adventure:

Cleansing Scrubs

For Dry Skin

  • 2 teaspoons quick-cooking oats
  • ¼ teaspoon almond powder
  • ¼ teaspoon orange peel powder
  • ¼ teaspoon lavender flower powder
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  1. Stir together all the ingredients and apply very gently on face with fingertips.
  2. Let the scrub set on skin, then using very slight pressure, flake the mask off into the basin.
  3. If the mask feels too sticky, use warm water to rinse. Dab face with a soft towel, and apply a good moisturizer.

Instant oatmeal is excellent for exfoliating the skin. Oats counter daily sun damage and replenish the skin with vitamins B & E. Orange peel balances the pH level of the skin and softens it. Almond powder is a protein-packed exfoliant. Yogurt contains friendly lactobacilli that pacify an aggravated Pitta. And the healing aroma of lavender powder makes this a soothing, pleasant mask.

For Oily Skin

  • 1 teaspoon toasted wheat bran
  • ¼ teaspoon almond powder
  • ½ teaspoon orange-peel powder
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  1. Wheat bran is a very efficient scrub, coaxing the grime out with ease.
  2. Combined with cooling yogurt, it helps gently exfoliate the skin.
  3. The vitamin C in lemon juice promotes scrubbing activity.

For Sensitive Skin

Make as for dry skin, but substitute whole raw milk for yogurt, and use rose petal instead of orange peel.

MOISTURIZERS

For Dry Skin

  • ½ teaspoon cocoa butter or coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon lemon or lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3 drops lavender oil
  1. This is a deep yet non-greasy moisturizer. Lavender oil keeps in the fridge for up to a week.
  2. Mix ingredients together and apply lightly to face twice a day.

For Oily Skin

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 drops of lemon-peel essential oil
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon cocoa butter

For Sensitive Skin

  • 1 teaspoon white sandalwood powder
  • 1 teaspoon marshmallow powder
  • ¼ teaspoon rose petals
  • 1 teaspoon Organic Rose Water
  • 1 teaspoon barley powder

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.