Ruth Griffin: The beauty of Ayurveda
The ancient mind and body health system that you can apply to your modern life...
Garshana? Dosha? Prana? You may think these are all 'new age' wellness descriptions. However, these are anything but 'new age'. They are, in fact, part of the world's most ancient holistic, natural healing system. If you've ever read a beauty column about breathing exercises, yoga, drinking herbal teas, tongue scraping or oil massage, these all originate in the ancient Indian philosophy of Ayurveda. The Ayurveda path to beauty is based on India's 5,000-year-old system of natural healing, which takes into account not only your body's health but also your character (or dosha) in order to keep your whole life in balance.
According to your dosha, Ayurveda advises which foods, herbs, skin and hair products, and lifestyle activities will enhance the quality of your life, and which ones won't. It's rooted in the belief that our health and wellness depend on a balance between the mind, body and spirit.
Try incorporating even small aspects of the Ayurveda into your everyday life.
* Ever wondered how supermodel Christy Turlington hasn’t aged since her ’90s heyday? After retiring from the runway, the 49-year-old mum-of-two studied Eastern philosophy and yoga and is a huge fan of Ayurveda. She explains: “Ayurveda is a sister philosophy to yoga. It is the science of life and longevity. It teaches about the power and cycles of nature as well as the elements.”
What's your dosha?
VATA (Space and Air)
● Slim, gain weight around their stomachs
● Dry, fine skin ● Feels the cold severely
● Irregular/erratic appetites ● Prone to feeling ‘wired’ and anxious
● Generally creative, active, restless and alert ● Need sleep more than other doshas ● Happiest when in nature ● Can be fatigued easily, feel frazzled and poor circulation ● Vata types should use beauty products with rose, life everlasting, macadamia and foraha oils
KAPHA (Earth and Water)
● Fuller figured ● Oily, soft skin ● Thick hair
● Prone to skin breakouts ● Deep sleepers/difficulty in waking ● Patient, grounded, stable caring characters ● Loving and fair-minded ● Dislike the cold ● Gains weight easily ● Slow digestion ● Prone to sinus and respiratory issues ● Can experience food cravings ● Kapha types should use beauty products with bergamot, geranium, green tea, and bitter orange
● Moderate, athletic body shape ● Gain weight on their bottom halves ● Strong metabolism, good appetite and digestion
● Deep sleepers/prone to vivid dreams/nightmares ● Very focused characters ● Prone to skin rashes ● Prone to acne ● Can suffer from headaches, acid reflux ● Pitta types should use beauty products with blue chamomile, sandalwood, almond, and borage in them
Some simple self-care Ayurvedic rituals inspired by the ancient art of living wisely, that you can do yourself at home
Garshana (body brushing)
Garshana literally means 'to rub' or 'rubbing'. It is also called the 'dry massage'. It is a rigorous massage, which increases vitality and energy, and its exfoliating effect smooths the skin. It's done by wearing gloves made of raw silk, wool, terry towel or a soft bristle skin brush. Do before showering for increased circulation, smoother skin and lymphatic drainage (great for swollen bloatedness).
Jihwa prakshalana (tongue scraping)
This is an ancient Ayurvedic technique that's becoming mainstream now in the West, used to banish ama (toxins) from collecting in the mouth. Available from health food shops nationwide.
Ashwagandha tea rituals
Sip on a delicious and health- and mind-boosting herbal tea. Ashwagandha and turmeric are fast becoming two of the most popular Ayurvedic herbs in the West, due to their proven health benefits. Pukka has a brilliant tea range, available from health food shops nationwide.
Daily self-massage with warm oil. See Backstage Beauty, below.
5 of the best Ayurveda products
● Urban Veda
This is a multi-award-winning natural skincare range based on the principles of Ayurveda, that's budget-friendly and readily available. These facial and body skincare products are made with natural organic ingredients, with unique formulations for different doshas. Try the Purifying Body Ritual Set, €44.95, from pharmacies and health food shops nationwide.
● Sundara Holistic Ayurvedic Skincare Vata Face Serum
The Vata skin type generally tends to be dry, so a serum is a must for this dosha. Try this avocado oil-based option - Vata Face Serum, €36 plus shipping (use An Post's Address Pal service for shipping), from sundaraholistic.com.
● Jiva Aphoha Atman (Spirit) Body Oil
Using tulsi (holy basil) palo santo, neroli and sesame oil, this body oil blend is created to calm and ground. Also look out for her Sukhin (Happy) Oil, €48 plus shipping from newlondonpharmacy.com.
● Desert Essence Natural Neem Toothpaste
It's recommended in Ayurveda that we chew twigs from the neem tree to ward off dental disease and flush toxins. To get a modern take on this, and all the benefits without the splinters, try Desert Essence Natural Neem Toothpaste, €8.30. From health food stores nationwide.
● Rasasara Skinfood
Set up your new beauty ritual with this carefully crafted line. Organic ingredients are used to create products for Vata, Pitta, and Kapha doshas, as well as tridoshic blends. This line offers products for skin, hair, and even baby.
Pitta Starter Kit, €62 from rasasara.com.
Model-turned-yoga and meditation teacher Jenny-Lee Masterson is a passionate advocate for following the Aruyvedic principle to achieve wellness and balance in our lives. She gives us an insider's view on how this ancient wisdom can be applied in our modern lives.
How does Ayurvedic wellness work?
Ayurveda (translated as 'science of life') works to balance the energies within the body. Health exists when there is balance. We are all made up of earth, water, air, fire and ether, these elements are known as doshas and there are three doshas - Vata, Kapha and Pitta which are energies found throughout the body and mind. The presence of these doshas within our being is what makes us all different - in personality, in what foods we're able to digest, moods, behaviours, emotions and appearances. It's when our dosha is out of balance that we feel discomfort, disease, poor digestion, bad skin, no energy, etc.
What Ayurvedic beauty techniques do you love?
I practise a form of abhyanga which is a daily full-body massage using large amounts of oil. I wait about 10-15 minutes after applying the oil before taking a shower or a bath. Showering daily can dry the skin out but this technique keeps the skin supple and also stimulates the nerves, relaxes the muscles and lubricates the joints. It's a powerful recharger and rejuvenator of mind and great for overall health and wellbeing. I particularly love Meridian sesame seed oil because it doesn't have a strong smell and I like to add essential oils to it for a more fragrant smell. I also practise breathing techniques daily. When we practise pranayama (breathing techniques) we are clearing on a physical, mental and emotional level.
What beauty products do you love?
• Rose Serum from The Burren Perfumery. I always try to buy Irish and I love everything about this company.
• Dublin Herbalists Face Wash - everything is 100pc natural.
How has Ayurveda benefited your skin?
The breathing techniques clear the channels of circulation within the body. Our lungs and our blood cells are filled with a fresh supply of oxygen and all toxins are removed, all of this leads to great skin. Oil has a super effect on hair, nails and skin by absorbing into the skin straight away, clearing up any dryness within and on the surface.
What's the simplest technique to start with?
Buy extra oils at the supermarket. Be generous when applying to the body, massaging the whole body from feet to face. Then, sit and do some breathing techniques (see meditate.ie for demonstration) or simple breath awareness. Then shower as normal using natural soap, if possible.
For more, see meditate.ie and Instagram @jennyleemasterson