By Prashanti de Jager
Ayurveda was first "seen" by saints and sages who radiated beauty from the core of their being. These elders shared Ayurveda with their students to give them the health and strength to maximize their chances of attaining true happiness, the true beauty that we know but which is beyond words to describe. From these beginnings Ayurveda has been a servant of beauty.
Intrinsic to the universe, mathematics is the tool of the physicist. In the same way, Ayurveda was originally a tool of the sages in their work of helping people to be beautiful, inside and out, and making the body/mind as clear and balanced as possible. As people made lifestyle choices to support this goal of living in clarity and balance many side effects arose, physical beauty being one of them.
So Ayurveda has many gifts for those who want to shine. It gives us specific herbs, like Turmeric, Tulsi and Neem, that have been treasured by Indian women for centuries because they give them such good skin. Ayurveda gives us specific techniques, from masks that actually look more like meals to deep cleansing protocols like Panch Karma. But most of all it informs us that beauty can result from a whole lifestyle dedicated to simply living in balance.
In Western culture the health practitioners are very distinct from the beauticians, but in Ayurveda, the 4,000 year old science of life, the two are the same. Ayurveda knows that beauty is the result of balanced vibrant health of the body/mind. Its beauty treatment programs use the same principles to restore vibrant health to skin and hair as it uses to heal the whole person. The Charaka Samhita, a 3,000 year old text, prescribes herbs like Turmeric, Neem, Tulsi and Triphala to both cleanse and balance the inner organs and also to be used topically to balance the body’s largest organ, the skin. For instance, a Gotu Kola tea that is taken internally to calm mental agitation or digestive inflammation can also be made into an ubtan (an herbal face mask) and used to calm break-outs in the T-zone.
A life in balance with its environment is the main theme of Ayurveda. Since the environment is always changing due to seasons, travels and even mental attitudes, Ayurveda recognizes that the treatments required to keep our skin healthy will also change. Watching the sap move from the branches of a tree into its roots during early winter tells us that we also are experiencing a time of drying out, and so our treatments in the winter focus more on warm nurturing emollients to minimize cold dry vata skin. The midsummer’s heat is a great time to focus more on light cooling cleansers to balance the hot pitta of the long days and also to help our body detoxify itself from the heavy kapha inertia of the cold winter.
Ayurveda has many gifts for those who want to shine. It gives us specific herbs that have been treasured by Indian women for centuries for their beauty enhancing abilities. Ayurveda gives us specific techniques, from masks that actually look more like meals to deep cleansing protocols like Panch Karma. But most of all it informs us that beauty can blossom from a whole lifestyle of True Wellness dedicated to simply living in and as balance.