Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Seven Steps to Beautiful Skin

| Discovering Myself in My Dosha |

1.      Know your basic skin type and choose every treatment accordingly.
2.      Cleanse, nourish and moisturize daily.
3.      Balance yourself internally, as well as externally.
4.      Introduce additional therapies gradually.
5.      Avoid the elements and attributes you have in abundance and favor the ones you lack.
6.      Keep a regular routine suited to your makeup and natural cycles.
7.      Enjoy the present moment.

A Summary of the Dosha Qualities

| Discovering Myself in My Dosha |

You’ve seen how the doshas interact with our bodies, mimicking nature’s forces and creating disparate imbalances between our physical expressions and optimal health. The dosha is, essentially, an imbalance, and stays with a person for their entire life. This is not a bad thing! This is simply how we were created with the unique tendencies and traits that make us who we are. It’s important to put into perspective when we feel we have an imbalance that needs adjusted and allowing ourselves the freedom to enjoy our differences.
Below are links to a website that provides one of the most in-depth listings of each dosha’s key characteristics. You can visit each link to see how each dosha really functions and the different traits that are most prevalently attached to each one.

Kapha Key Characteristics

Pitta Key Characteristics

Vata Key Characteristics

Balancing the Dosha Properties

| Discovering Myself in My Dosha |

We’ve discussed the different properties that make up each dosha, as well as the principle of “like increases” like where the more you consume or expose your body to properties that make up your dosha constitution, the more you will suffer from increasing imbalance symptoms, as your body already naturally produces an excess of your dosha’s properties.
As a kapha, I naturally want to steer away from extra oily, heavy and dense foods, habits and products. I will want to make an extra effort to surround myself with the properties that balance the oiliness, heaviness and sluggishness of kapha, as you will see below in the tables that show how each dosha property is balanced by its opposite. You will want to observe your own body processes and tendencies to see where you may be imbalanced so that you can gravitate towards the elements that will help re-center you.

Balancing Constituency and Dominant Senses
Kapha is: water and earth, which translates to taste and smell.
To balance, kapha needs: space, air and fire, which translates to touch, hearing and sight.
Pitta is: fire and water, which translates to sight and taste.
To balance, pitta needs: space, air and earth, which translates to touch, hearing and smell.
Vata is: space and air, which translates to touch and hearing.
To balance, vata needs: earth, fire and water, which translates to smell, sight and taste.

Balancing Feelings, Textures and Environments
Kapha is: heavy, cold, oily, slow, dense, and static.
To balance, kapha needs: light, hot, dry, sharp, dispersing, and mobile.
Pitta is: hot, light, sharp, acidic, fluid, and slightly oily
To balance, pitta needs: cold, heavy, slow, bitter, static, and astringent
Vata is: dry, cold, light, rough, dispersing, quick, and astringent
To balance, vata needs: oily, hot, heavy, lubricating, dense, and stable

Balancing Tastes
Kapha is: sweet (desserts, fruits and grains), salty (vegetables, seaweeds and chips) and sour (berries)
To balance, kapha needs: pungent (spices), bitter (greens), astringent (mint, crisp vegetables)
Pitta is: acidic (tomatoes and citrus fruits), spicy (hot spices), and pungent (spices)
To balance, pitta needs: bitter (greens), astringent (mint, crisp and cooling vegetables) and sweet (desserts, fruits and grains)
Vata is: crisp (light vegetables, crackers) and astringent (mint, crisp vegetables)
To balance, vata needs: oily (avocados and some fried foods) and salty (vegetables, seaweeds and chips)

Doshas and the Daily, Seasonal and Life Cycles

| Discovering Myself in My Dosha |

Doshas also have great influence over cycles of time, meaning each cycle in life, season of the year, and hour of the day is dominated by the forces of each dosha. This is reflected in how nature changes with the temperature, how our bodies react to age and in how our physical imbalances persist at certain times. The doshas’ interaction and influence with time is something that has been observed by the ancient Ayurvedic sages for thousands of years. Even though we individually have a preexisting tendency towards one dominant dosha, all succumb to the influence of the dosha reigning over the present life cycle, season and time of day you are experiencing. Here is how each dosha interacts with the cycle of life, season and time of day.

Life Cycle
Birth to 25 years old is kapha period
Role of a student: The kapha period is the learning stage of life where we discover pleasure and enjoyment, as well as the discipline that goes with it. At this point we are experiencing new things and discovering the world around us. Children are growing, producing more tissue, and as a result, more mucus. This is why children experience more cold-related diseases than adults. Traditionally kapha traits, children need a lot of sleep, have a high capacity for learning, and exhibit contentment, possessiveness and dependence.
25 to 50 years old is pitta period
Role of a householder: The pitta period is the most driven period of an individual’s life, clearly a trait of pitta. It is the period of making a livelihood and raising a family. This is a period of responsibility and obligation to meet material needs. It is in this life stage that individuals are seeking wealth and security and are sacrificing enjoyment for it. Young adults, because their bodies are exposed to high stress, develop “fiery” diseases such as heartburn, acidic stomachs, ulcers and hypertension. Traditionally pitta traits, early adults strive to be independent, ambitious, confident and social.
50 to 75 years old is pitta transforming into vata period
Role of a hermitage: This transformative period is of adulthood and all the responsibilities associated with it, winding down to a more peaceful period of elder-hood. It is during this time that the drive and ambition of accumulating wealth subsides into a more thoughtful need for truth and honor. Simplicity and peace are pursued after the fires of ambition burn us out. An individual in this transformative period will exhibit imbalances of both pitta and vata, as a struggle to phase one out and guide another in occurs.
75 to 100 years old is vata period
Role of a renouncer: The vata period is one of preparation and seeking. As death nears, the individual in the vata period will seek to be liberated from this life and look to the next life. It’s during this period that one will lose interest in on-goings of this life and will instead have an extreme focus on the “future.” These older individuals, because their kapha traits have dried up and pitta traits have burned out, move into the vata stage of dryness, dehydration, brittle bones and pains and aches. Traditionally vata traits, older people will succumb to forgetfulness, anxiety and fear.

Seasonal Cycle
Spring: March-May is kapha season
The earth thawing: As temperatures warm and snow turns to mist and rain, the kapha season will bring a great “thaw” of the earth. Dampness, heaviness and liquids will abound. The lubricated earth and air will free trapped allergens, pathogens and air born viruses, which cause many of the spring colds and illnesses people contract. The kapha presence during spring will provoke kapha qualities in individuals, such as feeling heavy, congested, lazy and slow. Like the earth slowly thawing while holding huge deposits of liquid in the ground, humans (especially kaphas), will mimic their environment by holding water weight and slowly passing mucus out of the body.
Summer: June-September is pitta season
The earth heating: Once temperatures have peaked and the afternoon sun blaze is full-force, it’s clear that pitta season has arrived. And aside from high temperatures, pitta season brings its own set of seasonal symptoms. It’s clear we are amidst pitta season not only when we experience the heat flush and increase in internal temperatures that are in-sync with the climate, but also when we feel slightly more irritable and argumentative, driven to accomplish, and passionate in circumstances. Physically, we may succumb to skin rashes or inflamed acne. Like the blazing sun, humans will blaze away in heated conversations, passionate emotion and heat overexertion when active.
Fall/Winter: October-February is vata season
The earth freezing: The earth will begin cooling in the fall with lower temperatures and higher atmospheric winds. Vata is all about movement, drying of the earth, clearance and stimulation. We can see vata beginning to move with the fast autumn winds, shedding of the leaves and drying of the earth. It’s essentially the earth’s cleansing process. Likewise, human bodies also begin to feel the drying and shedding process as our bodies exfoliate from excess water and oils stored from the previous two seasons. As winter moves in, a certain mood of uncertainty and unknown follows it. This vata mood chills humans to the bone and provokes feelings of fear, worry and enclosement. However, vata season is also a breeding ground for creativity and stimulated mental activity, hence the idea of “cabin fever.” Retreating indoors, literally and metaphorically, allows for prolonged time to look inwards, evaluate our lives and learn more about ourselves.

Daily Cycle                                                     
6 a.m. to 10 a.m. is kapha time
6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Morning: Morning time is when kaphas thrive. Kaphas should channel their productivity during this time period. Kapha resonates with mornings because they are the slow parts of the day that gradually shape into the day’s activity. However, imbalanced kaphas will have a hard time using this time because the kapha nature is to sleep in. Sleeping in for kaphas will only promote sluggishness for the remainder of the day.
Evening: Early evening is when kaphas thrive for the second part of their day. Kaphas tire easily, so they naturally wind down earlier than the other two doshas. This is the “heavy” time of the day when biological clocks naturally prepare for sleep.

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is pitta time
10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Noontime: The middle of the day is when pittas thrive. Pittas should channel their productivity during this time period. Pitta resonates with afternoons because it is the high-digestive part of the day where body processes are stimulated and the body’s agni, or fire is in full motion. Pittas should be careful not to overwork or overheat their bodies, however, to prevent burn out during this time period.
Late night: Late night is when pittas thrive for the second part of their day. Their over-ambition and drive keeps them going in these extended hours. This is why pittas are not early risers.

2 p.m. to 6 p.m. is vata time
2 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Afternoon: Late afternoon/early evening is when vatas thrive. Vatas should channel their productivity during this time period. Vata resonates with the later hours of the day because it comes after a nourishing noontime meal, which provides the basis for effective and sustained brain function, a defining trait of vatas. Vatas should use this period of sustained brain function to pursue important projects or to seek creative ideas, however, should be careful to not over stimulate the brain towards anxiety or extreme excitability.
Early morning: Late night/early morning is when vatas thrive for the second part of their day, especially since they tend to start the productivity of their day later than the other doshas. This very early time slot is the prime time for brain functioning and vatas think, create and accomplish well during this time.

Dosha Constituents and Dominant Senses

| Discovering Myself in My Dosha |

Going a little deeper in learning what forces keep each dosha alive requires a closer look at the properties that make up each dosha, as well as how each one is reflected in the earth. Because doshas are not only expressed in the human body, but throughout all of creation, it’s important to see how they interact with our environmental surroundings to get a better idea of how they will interact with our bodies. Below details how each dosha is represented throughout the earth- sort of like their “elemental properties.”

Kapha (oily skin) represents earth and water, which mostly affects our ability to taste and smell.
Pitta (sensitive skin) represents fire and water, which mostly affects our ability to see and taste.
Vata (dry skin) represents air and space, which mostly affects our ability to touch and hear.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Treating Specific Skin Problems

| Discovering Myself in My Dosha |

These recipes were created by: Dr. Pratima Raichur

Acne Vulgaris
Description: very oily skin; large pores; blackheads; large, pussy pimples; deep scars
Imbalance of: pitta or kapha
Aggravated by: overconsumption of sweets, fats, oils, red meat, seafood, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, emotional stress and attachments (inability to let go), inactivity, feelings of possessiveness, depression and purposelessness

Exfoliate skin with Tej herbal powders.
Take steam baths using rosemary or eucalyptus essential oils.
Take weekly detoxifying bath using Epsom salts or ginger + rock salt.
Exercise vigorously for ½ hour, three times a week to achieve sweating.
Apply Tej soothing lotion on pimples and do a pimple mask once or twice a week. Mix ½ tsp. crushed cumin seed + 1 tsp. coriander + few drops water and apply paste over pimples. Leave on for 20-30 minutes, then rinse.
Do soothing weekly facial mask using red sandalwood + neem + lodhra powders.
For stubborn, large cysts, apply piece of warm onion 2-3 times a day to break it, but do not squeeze.

Supplements: Take daily 10,000 units beta carotene, 1,000 mg Vitamin C and 15-20 mg zinc. Increase dietary fiber, including bran, fresh fruit and produce. Drink fresh carrot, beet or apple juice. Drink detoxifying herbal teas of burdock, goldenseal, Echinacea, neem or turmeric. Drink ½ glass warm water every hour. In the morning, take 2 Tbsp. of aloe vera gel.

Acne Rosacea
Description: red rash on nose and cheeks that may be sensitive or burning; excessive oiliness on t-zone; broken capillaries and thickened skin on nose
Imbalance of: pitta
Aggravated by: anger, frustration, disappointment, anxiety, over-ambition, stress, weather, sun, hot spices, sour fruits, fermented foods, tomatoes, seafood, canned or preserved foods, soda, pastries, chocolate, pizza, French fries, sweets, antibiotics and harsh chemicals

Do not use astringents, toners or any harsh substances on the skin. Use only gentle, soothing treatments.
Wash with milk + white sandalwood, manjista and neem herbal powders.
Soak towel in cool herbal tea of comfrey or nettle and apply wet compress to face.
Grind fresh cilantro + mint. Add water to make a paste and apply to face as a mask. Lie down for 10-15 minutes, then rinse off. If condition is very dry, red, or burning, apply soothing lotion of ghee + juices from crushed dried neem leaves, or use neem herbal oil.

Supplements: Take daily 10,000 units beta carotene, 1,000 mg Vitamin C, 15-20 mg zinc, 400 units Vitamin E and daily recommended dosage of B-complex. Drink a glass of water every hour. In the morning, drink aloe vera juice.

Premature Wrinkles
Imbalance of: vata or pitta
Aggravated by: dryness, dehydration, stress, sun, wind, extreme temperatures, excessive exercise, travel, alcohol, coffee, tobacco, sweets, spicy foods, hot or cold water, sudden weight loss, water pills, horomone medications, diabetes, lack of purpose, lack of loving relationships, hereditary factors

Twice weekly, do a facial mask using paste of 1 Tbsp. sandalwood powder + 1 drop camphor oil + 3-4 drops lotus oil + 2 tsp. water. With ring finger, gently massage a few drops of face oil made with sandalwood + rose oil directly under eyes for protection then apply paste to the rest of the face. Cover eyes with wet cotton pads dipped in rosewater and lie down for 10-15 minutes. Cleanse, nourish and moisturize, as usual.
Make decoction of 1 Tbsp. dry geranium in ½ cup water then apply to face using a cotton ball. Do natural face-lift and face exercises.

Supplements: Take recommended daily dosage of Vitamin E and primrose oil capsules. Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily. 

Other Dosha Beauty Recipes and Practices

| Discovering Myself in My Dosha |

These recipes were created by: Dr. Pratima Raichur

Body Cleansing
Mix equal parts chick pea flour + dry milk powder in a plastic spice jar. Sprinkle 2 tsp. body cleanser into palm of hand, add some water to make a thin paste, and scrub lightly over wet skin in shower. Rinse off and pat dry.
Body Nourishing and Moisturizing
Mix 1 oz. almond oil + 10 drops essential oil appropriate for your constitution (lavender). Massage on wet skin following shower.
Hair Shampooing
Make strong herbal decoction using sage, bay leaf, or rosemary. Make shampoo using 8 parts herbal decoction + 1 part liquid olive soap. Shampoo as usual. Massage scalp with 2 drops lavender or rosemary essential oil before drying. For added shine, follow shampoo with hair rinse made of the juice of ½ lemon in 1 cup water.
Hair Conditioning
Make paste with 1 tsp. each triphala, neem, sandalwood and licorice powders + 10 tsp. water. Apply paste to dry scalp, leave on for ½ hour, rinse thoroughly with warm lemon water.
Eye Washing
Blink often, periodically roll eyes, shut eyes for awhile every hour, massage with almond or olive oil + few drops rose or sandalwood essential oil.
Sparkle and tone: Make eye wash of fennel or eye bright tea. When the tea has cooled, pour into shallow bowl and blink/bathe each eye for thirty seconds.
Bloodshot relief: dip cotton pads in rosewater, lie down and place pads on closed eyes for 10-15 minutes.
Thicker lashed and brows: put touch of olive oil on them nightly
Body Bathing
            Thirty Minute Home Spa Treatment and Bath
Make body mask using a thin paste of ground almonds + wheat flour + lentil powder + water. Rub paste all over body and let dry. Brush off with towel to exfoliate.
Massage body with sesame oil + 1 pinch turmeric powder to stimulate circulation, strengthen agni, improve ojas.
Take warm bath for 15-20 minutes, adding to the bath water: 5-6 drops lavender, rosemary or lemon oil (for oily skin).
After bath, pat dry and use body oil to nourish and moisturize skin.