Holistic Ayurveda For a Healthy Life and Beautiful Body
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In a time when beauty is often equated, in many cultures, with a "fair" complexion or a fashionably thin figure or the shape of the nose, it is interesting to look back to a time when beauty was defined in holistic terms, and beauty was within every woman's reach.
Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old healing system from India, has a unique perspective on beauty.
Holistic, all-encompassing, the Ayurvedic definition of beauty reads thus - "Roopam, gunam, vayastyag, iti shubhanga karanam." Rama Kant Mishra, Ayurvedic dermatologist and formulator of several Ayurvedic skin care and beauty products, explains. "According to Ayurveda, there are three pillars of beauty. Roopam is outer beauty - personified by shining healthy hair and a clear radiant complexion. Gunam refers to inner beauty - the beauty that shines from within, characterized by a warm pleasing personality and innocence of mind and heart. And vayastyag means lasting beauty - looking, and feeling younger than your chronological age." Thus, says Mishra, Ayurveda does not focus only on cosmetics to achieve the state of true beauty.
Roopam does not specify a type of figure or the color of the skin or the length or style of the hair. Outer beauty, according to Ayurveda, is a reflection of good health - good digestion and healthy eating habits and lifestyle. The frame of the body is dependent on the type of structural components you were born with. Whether thin, medium or big, each type of body structure can be beautiful as long as good health exists.
"You are what you eat." Ayurveda takes this notion very seriously. In fact it goes a step further to say "You are what you digest." A radiant clear complexion begins with proper nutrition, efficient digestion and assimilation of nutrients by the body and regular elimination. "It's all about diet," says Mishra. "There are simple Ayurvedic principles you can follow, even if you are a newcomer to the system." Some of Mishra's tips on diet and digestion -
* Eat your largest meal at mid-day: your digestive fire is strongest at that time
* Eat to three-fourths of your capacity
* Focus on your food, don't divide your attention with TV or work
* Don't drink ice-cold beverages: they dampen your digestive fire
* Try and include several different tastes at each meal - sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent
* Don't skip meals!
* Include lots of sweet juicy fruits and green leafy vegetables in your diet
* Sip warm water through the day to help flush toxins from the body
"These suggestions sound simple," says Mishra. "But how many of us really follow them? In our time-constrained, deadline-oriented society, good eating habits are hard to maintain. But good diet and digestion are crucial for long-term beauty, because beauty begins with good health." Ayurveda also emphasizes herbal supplements as aids to beauty. A supplement to help keep the skin clear through the purification of the blood or one to internally balance the moisture and elasticity of the skin or one to pep up the functioning of the liver - an Ayurvedic dermatologist might recommend herbal combinations for any of these, or related purposes.
Sleep is second only to diet according to Ayurveda to achieve and maintain true beauty. "The body needs rest in order to rejuvenate itself," says Mishra. "Modern research is finding out that sleep deprivation has very adverse impact on health and well-being, but Ayurvedic practitioners knew it centuries ago." Quality of sleep is as important as quantity. Here are Mishra's tips for getting your beauty sleep -
* Go to bed before 10 p.m. - staying up much beyond that can impact the quality of rest you get
* Start your day with a full-body massage with an herbal or aroma massage oil
* Drink a soothing cup of herbal tea before bed
* Don't take your work into your bedroom
* Focus on calming activities as bedtime draws near
* Take a relaxing warm bath a couple of hours before bed
* Slip a sachet of dried lavender under your pillow
* Eat a light meal at dinner, at least 2-3 hours before bedtime
"If you go to bed right after watching a horror movie on TV, or have an argument with someone at bedtime, you're not likely to have a restful night," says Mishra. "Cutting down on stimulants such as caffeine is also helpful. Once you start following some of these tips, you'll notice a marked difference in the quality of your sleep. This will help you feel rested, alert and yes, beautifully fresh each morning."
While diet and sleep are the cornerstones, other factors are important too. "Stress management is critical," says Mishra. "Again, a daily massage can help. Practice meditation, listen to uplifting music - anything you can do to balance the mind and emotions will be reflected in your appearance." Gunam - inner beauty - reflects the beauty of the mind and the soul. Serenity, a positive attitude, and purity of thought, word and action - all of these contribute to making you beautiful.
According to Mishra, the Charak Samhita, the principal Ayurvedic text, recommends that you seek the company of the young at heart. "Don't always focus on your biological age," says Mishra. "Always talking or thinking about your age or those lines you're seeing on your face will make you feel old." Laughter, seeking new experiences, and the company of good friends can keep you looking, and feeling, beautiful, no matter what your biological age.
With the dawn of a new millennium, let us go beyond the color of the skin or the height of the cheekbones to find beauty in every woman.
Note - Information provided in this article is for education only, and is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure or mitigate any disease. If you have a medical condition, please consult a health professional.
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Vasu Nargundkar may be contacted at http://www.mapi.com email@example.com. Click here to view more of their articles. Vasu Nargundkar is the editor of several ayurveda newsletters published at http://www.mapi.com. Get practical advice on restoring harmony to body, mind and spirit with the 5,000 year old system of ayurveda. Subscribe to free newsletters at http://www.mapi.com.