Category Archives: Skin

Ayurvedic Facial Rejuvenation

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Whee! I just got back from a 3-day Ayurvedic Facial Rejuvenation class at the California College of Ayurveda! As a lifelong teacher and student of Ayurveda, I’ll never stop learning and this class was such a treat that I must share with you.

SKIN CARE HIGHLIGHTS!

Our skin eats. It’s also our largest organ, so anything we put on our skin, we should be able to put in our mouth (if not, reassess your skincare line. No judging! Just awareness) because it gets absorbed and digested by our body.

Vatas have dry, thin skin, so their skin care should be nourishing, moisturizing and fairly oily! They tan easy. When balanced vatas have a delicate radiance. When imbalanced, they might experience dry or flaky skin, rough patches, rough bumps and blackheads (due to small pores).

Pittas have sensitive, hot skin so their skin care should be nourishing as well as cooling, but not too oily. They burn easy. When balanced, pittas simply glow! When imbalanced, they might experience pimples/acne, rashes, rosacea and sunburn.

Kaphas have cool, thick, oily, porcelain skin and they will look young forever (maybe not quite forever)! They should avoid thick, clogging creams and instead use light, oil-free skin care. When balanced, they look like porcelain goddesses. When imbalanced, they might experience congested skin including cysts and acne or excessively oily skin.

FACIALS/MASSAGE HIGHLIGHTS!
When we practiced (and received!) our facials, we used products made of all natural ingredients and Ayurvedic herbs that promote a variety of tri-dosha balancing effects to the skin including, rejuvenation, circulation, cooling, moisture and nourishment. The whole thing took about 1 1/2 hours to do — can you imagine?! We got to practice 3x and receive 3x (yesss!).

OK here’s how it went:

  1. We gently exfoliated the face and neck using upward motions while wearing silk gloves (they were not silky smooth, more like linen), which stimulated circulation.
  2. Then, we did a gentle oil and massage on the neck and face (upward motions!) to bring nourishment after the friction of the gloves.
  3. Next, we zoned in on the marma points, which are the little “activation points” along the body’s channels that run from head to toe (just like acupuncture points). We touched on these points through each stage of the massage to release stagnation, increase circulation and promote emotional balance. During this marma massage stage of the massage we gave them extra special attention.
  4. Then we took hot towels that we had previously soaked in chamomile and lavender tea and steamed the face for 10 minutes (protect eyes with cucumber!).
  5. After that we applied the cleanser and massaged again — it got super sudsy and was quite fun!
  6. Then we did a lymph massage to the face and neck with body butter
  7. We repeated the 10 minute facial steam with chamomile and lavender soaked towels
  8. Then we painted the facial mask on and while it was sitting, gave our client hand and foot massages.
  9. We removed the mask and applied facial moisturizer and dabbed on wrinkle serum.

TA-DAH!!! One and one half HOURS of awesome. And we each got to receive it 3x in 3 days!! My face looks more balanced, toned and nourished — and I look less tired. Score!

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Making the tea of chamomile and lavender flowers. We soaked them in boiled water for 10 minutes, strain. Then we dunked our facial towels in the tea and kept them in a hotcabi til steaming time!

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We used Dr. John Douillard’s (he’s awesome!) LifeSpa line of skin care products.

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Facial steam with the warm towels that were soaked in the tea. Cucumbers keep the eyes cool.

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The facial mask I “painted” on my client which tones and nourishes after we exfoliated, massaged and steamed the face.

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Time for dessert — A tower of creams and goops we made ourselves! Various ingredients include avocado, greek yogurt, glive oil, mango, aloe vera and red sandalwood. Stack o’ goodness!! And yes, we were eating the mango one like it was candy.

Super Itchy Skin Season

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Hoooo. Welcome to “Super itchy skin Season” I mean, well, that’s probably not the official name of the season. Most would call it vata season or, fall. Anywho, if we have not already started practicing daily oil massage by now, our skin is probably letting us know it. We know it’s dry when our skin starts to show it’s texture and we can write the word “Dry” on the back of our hand with our fingernail (who remembers that commercial?). We know it’s dry when lotion buurrrns our skin (Why? Cause alcohol is one of the first ingredients in most skin lotion which dries it out further and makes it sting!). We might also wake up in the middle of the night with itchy-itchy dry scratchy legs like I did couple years ago and almost went nuts!

Most of you guys know by now that it’s time for OILS. Maybe we should rename it “Oil Season.” That sends a better message. Oils soak into our skin (especially warm oil – it’s heavenly) and also create a barrier to the outside cold, dry air. If we use oils daily, we won’t get super-itchy-skin or wake up in the middle of the night with itches. As a bonus, applying warm oil massage promotes sound sleep and can be used as a relaxation technique to unwind before bed.

Here are some ways to sneak in oils each day:
• Daily Oil Massage (yes, even for busy people), ideally in the morning before shower.
• Keep a small bottle of oil at your desk. Use like you would lotion and apply to forehead, cheeks, hands, arms, shins (if you start rubbing oil above your knees at work, people will think it’s just weird). Make sure it’s rubbed in really well.
• If you didn’t do massage in the morning then apply warm oil to your bod in the evening. Dump some oil in a pot on the stove and heat it (careful! It heats very fast and will continue to heat in the pan even when removed). Apply with strokes up and toward the heart.
• Rub warm sesame oil on hands and feet before heading outside in the cold.
• Eat oils too. Our skin is dry because our insides are dry. Favor vata-balancing diet with plenty of healthy oils this time of year.

And below are some of Monica B’s Favorite Oils (Confession…I have a lot of favorite oils, but these guys are tops).

It’s important to choose oils that benefit your dosha the best. Our friends at Banyan Botanicals have a nice variety of oils to choose from.

Vata-balancing oil. Warm, nourish and ground.

Pitta-balancing oil (will nourish but also cool). Calm, sooth and cool.

Kapha-balancing oil. Invigorate, warm, revitalize.

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Another one of my favorite luxurious brand of oils are from Boditonic. These would make awesome gifts or a nice bit of pampering for yourself. The baby scent is my favorite (it’s a calm, very light ylang ylang). The original scent is also good — it’s more lemongrassy. If you order from Boditonic, say hi to Adam and tell him Monica B sent you. It will make him smile.

 

 

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Made in small batches with care by Adam at Boditonic.com

 

Oil Massage for Busy People

 

Oil Massage for Busy People?! Yessssss. In Ayurveda we love the benefits of a good daily oil massage. Great. Now, raise your hands if you are thinking, “Yeah awesome for the people who who have time for luxury but pssshhht, there’s no WAY I can do that daily! I’m so busy — I can’t even remember to bring my lunch much less do a massage before work. Monica B, you are crazycakes with this suggestion!”

Um. Perfect! That’s why we are talking about oil massage, or abyhanga, for busy people! Because that’s you—and that’s me! In my busy world with my job-job and hideous 3 hour commute, I still do it and I’ll tell you how.

YOU’LL NEED

Sesame oil (for vata)
Coconut or Almond oil (for pitta)
Sunflower oil (for kapha)
{Psssst…if not from Banyan, you can get these oils from any grocery store in the oil section! Get the organic cold/expeller pressed kind.}
1 small plastic squeezy bottle. Like a travel size shampoo bottle or a mini ketchup bottle with a tiny cap
1 towel you don’t care about

HERE WE GO

1. Put your oil in the squeezy bottle
2. Keep the oil in the bathroom near your shower
3. Stand on the towel you don’t care about.
4. Apply the oil from toe to head. We want absorption, not an oil slick, but also no tugging on the skin. Should take 3-5 minutes. Start with your feet and legs. Use long strokes on the bones with some pressure up toward the heart, then go back down with less pressure, then back UP toward the heart. Clockwise circles around the joints. Clockwise circles around the belly and belly button with some pressure. Don’t forget your booty. Get your back the best you can, upward toward the shoulders. Long strokes on arms up and toward the heart/shoulders. Get hands starting from the base and Clockwise again around joints. Upwards on the neck. And don’t forget your face.
5. Get in a nice warm (not super hot*) shower.
Wash your hair (optional), pits, bits, and feet. Don’t scrub anything!

6. Get out and DAB yourself off. The oil will be absorbed into your skin, leaving it super soft!
7. Finish getting ready with your busy self :)

Your bod will feel really smooth, warm, and you’ll be calm in the mind! It will set the tone for your whole day, I promise! Even if you are super busy, you will really benefit from this simple practice as it tells our entire being that we CARE enough to nourish it, daily. Try it for a week and I bet you’ll LOVE it! Let me know how it goes. XOXO!

*Super hot water is very drying to the skin.

If you want MORE about Ayurveda for a busy life, I wrote an awesome book! Check it out In Your Elements: A Blooming Ayurvedic Guide to Creating Your Best Life.

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Tip: Natural SPF

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Tip: Using a bit of sesame oil (not the toasted kind!) on your face in the morning will moisturize, smooth fine lines, and is also a natural SPF!
We love you, Ayurveda!

Think Tropics

Hoh-kay! Since vata season brings on the big chill, most people focus on staying warm. We pile on the clothes and crank up the heat in our homes and in our cars, overlooking that the heated air is extremely dry. So not only does vata season bring on the big chill but it also brings on the big dry! Ayurvedically speaking, using warmth to balance vata is logical and correct, but we can’t forget about moisture. I recently mentioned that we need oils in our bodies so we don’t dry out, and along the same lines our atmosphere also needs more moisture. I always think about a vata balancing atmosphere as the tropics, where the surrounding nature is warm and humid. In the tropics, plants are dewy, green, and lush. The air is thick, moist and heavy. The nature there has a little bounce, sponginess and flexibility. Nothing is brown, dry, brittle or cracked.

Ah ha! So more than warmth, there is a dense, wet, heaviness that many of us forget about when trying to balance our vata dosha. *ding! ding!* Welcome to balancing vata! Since most of us can’t just fly to Thailand to get our fix, there are some simple things you can do to make your home feel like a tropical paradise.

• Humidifier. Stick one in your bedroom and you’ll sleep like a baby. This is also great to calm a dry cough. If I could have it my way, I would live in a room that’s 80 degrees with 80-90% humidity. Hellooooooo vata zen!
• Boil a pot of water on your stove. It will humidify the air nicely. And especially if you live in a small apartment, the air will get nice and thick fairly quickly.
• Steam bath or shower. Steam it up in the bathroom (tip: if you are a sloppy vata and don’t fold your clothes, hang them in the bathroom on a hanger and the steam will get out the wrinkles) and take some deep inhales. Bring in your favorite aromatherapy oil and drip on the floor. Leave the door open when you’re done for instant humidifying.
Oil up! To keep the moisture “sealed” on your bod, use a little almond or sesame oil in the shower to keep moisture in.
• Ocean white noise. Okay so it’s not real moisture, but if you have a white noise machine or a smart phone with a white noise app, use the ocean setting! Turn it up! Visualizing a tropical place will help our vata mind settle and become instantly peaceful.

If you have other creative ideas to bring on the tropics, please do share! Once you increase heat AND moisture, your vata will sink into it’s virtual hammock to enjoy the get away.

Quick Massage

Hey! Tip! If doing the full body oil massage in the morning takes too much time, I have a little short cut for a quick massage. Keep a little container of sesame (vata) or almond (pitta) oil in the shower. After you soap up and rinse off, apply the oil like you would a lotion! Your skin will stay soft, circulation will improve, your mind will be easy, and your vata will be balanced. On the weekends, do the longer massage :)

Oil is Thicker Than Water

Friendlies! Vata season is quickly approaching! Here again we find ourselves in ritusandhi or, the joints between seasons. Right now, we are ending summer and quickly moving into fall so it’s important to start incorporating vata habits now so that when the end of September arrives, our body-minds are conditioned for it.

One of the things you can do is start incorporating more oils into your diet. Vata is very dry and so is fall and winter. Since like increases like in Ayurveda, that means we have to balance the dryness with wetness. And not even wetness, but unctuousness (oily!). Don’t get me wrong, drinking lots of water is great, but it doesn’t really “lubricate.” It helps to cleanse and nourish our bodies, but it doesn’t plump anything up or provide elastic cushion like oil does.

Think of it this way, if your skin is dry would you put water on it as a moisturizer? Or, if your wagon has a squeaky wheel, will you put water on it to lubricate it? No way Jose! You would use some sort of oil! (please note: most moisturizers and lotions have water + alcohol as the first ingredients, which just makes the skin drier!).

In Ayurveda, oils are used a lot to keep the outer AND inner bodies supple. Our tissues really like it when they become more lubricated around the joints as well as nice and stretchy so that we can extend into our yoga poses. Oils help aid digestion, pooping, massage, it keeps us mentally grounded, and keeps our skin soft and wrinkle-free. Now, I don’t mean just put oil on the outside and rub-a-dub as a massage. That’s good too but vatas (and during vata season where vata balances rise in all of us) really need to start eating more healthy oils and fats in their diet. **Kaphas don’t need as much oil because they are naturally oily and too much oil will imbalance them.

Types of oils
Ghee
– internal and external for vata and pitta. Use it as a cooking oil (has a high smoke point) to fry veggies in, as a spread on bread, melt in oatmeal, melt in soup, be creative! The sky is the limit. And if you’re bored, try some ghee-licious flavors!
Sesame Oil
(cold, expeller pressed) – massage on vata skin
Almond Oil
(cold, expeller pressed) – massage on pitta skin
Safflower Oil
good in case kapha skin gets dry during vata season
Olive Oil
vata and pitta can have plenty! Cook and drizzle with it
Flax Seed Oil – you can’t cook with this stuff but you can drink it or drizzle it on warm foods like a veggie & rice bowl

Also, if you have a problem with constipation and water isn’t helping, try oil! You can take 1 tbsp of ghee and melt it in a small amount of warm water or warm milk. Drink! Do this in the morning on an empty stomach and soon you’ll be pooping happy :D I’ve heard that Italians also do this with olive oil, although I don’t think they use a chaser. You can also try flax seed oil (liquid or gel caps) to lubricate and butter up the insides!

Itchy Dry Itchy Dry

OMG is anyone else out there itchy!? Fortunately in the San Francisco Bay Area, we don’t have sub zero temperatures, snow storms or terribly gusty winds, but it’s still vata season. It’s been kinda chilly and it’s very dry here. Both are vata increasing and my legs are so itchy I think I might die. I’ve woken up in the night because of them and when I scratch it leaves red, dry marks. It’s just downright painfully itchy and I can take no more.

To make things worse, I have a space heater on at work most of the day, which is just adding dry, hot air to my skin. I bet it’s making it worse. SO! I have been on a mission to end the itchies and wanted to share some ideas with you, not only for itchies but for dry skin in general.

For Body! Oatmeal, milk & aromatherapy bath. Take instant oatmeal (when it comes to itch, I am impatient) flakes and put 1 cup into bathtub with warm water, 1 cup milk, and drops of calming aromatherapy (lavender, rose, geranium) and sit for at least 10 minutes. Hot water increases dryness AND you will end up with biggest bowl of oatmeal in the world!
If you don’t have a tub, you can use a bucket and just drizzle the oatey water on your legs. Also an option, when the oats get pastey, apply the paste to your legs and gently massage. Empty the oats into the toilet or garbage disposal cause if you dump them down the drain, you might clog it.
Epsom salts.
Listen to Grandma! Salts have wonderful healing properties (swimming in the ocean will cure almost any skin problem!). Using epsom salts in a bath also calm down the itch.
Lavender Salt Scrub. Speaking of salts, I have this in my shower constantly (I realize I ran out over the past 3 weeks…could be why the “legs”) and it’s the bomb!
Soothing Skin Balm
from Banyan Botanicals. This I could not live without! This balm has saved me many days at work and nights when I woke up from itchies. I’ve used almost the whole jar. It’s thick so it’s best used in a small area, but I’ve been putting all over my lower legs. The nice thing is that the herbs in here will begin to correct the root problem. I use it all the time!
Oils. You knew I was going to mention oil massage, didn’t you? Yippee if you did! Precede your shower by using oils Sesame oil is great in the winter for dry skin, but pittas beware. Sesame oil is warming and it might make your sensitive skin itch (mine does, at least on my legs). Almond oil is nourishing and lovely and so is safflower oil. Sesame (vata) is thickest, then almond (pitta), then safflower (kapha) is thinnest. Please buy these oils in the cooking section of your grocery store (they should be $4-$7) and make sure it says “cold-pressed” or “expeller-pressed.” You get a lot of good oils for little money and remember the rule, if you can’t eat it, it should not go on your skin.
Humidifier.
We bought one today so that we get some moisture in the air! Even my husband is going around the corners of the room and itching his back on the walls like a desperate cat. :(

For Face!
Almond & Milk Scrub. I LOVE this combo! 1 tsp almond meal to 1/2 tsp milk powder and a pinch of sugar (I made a batch big enough to fit in a jelly jar). I got the recipe from Absolute Beauty by Pratima Raichur and about three times a week instead of using cleanser or soap in the morning. Mix with a little warm water to make a paste and massage on the face. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry.

Only Wash at Night. If you have dry skin on your face, only wash your face at night to remove make-up, sweat, and dirt. In the morning clean the crud out of your eyes, give a nice lukewarm rinse and then moisturize. Over-cleansing will lead to drier skin.

Banana or Avocado Mask. I heart using fruits on my face! This is a great exfoliant for winter because it also moisturizes. Use a ripe banana or avocado. Mash up and put on your face. Kick your feet up above your heart and chill for 15 minutes. Rinse off.

***Confession*** Today I broke down and bought some Aveeno Baby fragrance free lotion (with oatmeal!) for my wee legs. It’s totally not Ayurvedic. I didn’t see any sinful ingredients because there was no listing of ingredients at all – um, is that legal? However, I kinda just needed some reprieve. It seemed to work – for the time being. I picked the “baby” version because I figure their skin is also sensitive. Anyway, I had to let you know that while I try my darndest to live Ayurvedically, despite baths, soaks, balms, and bucketsfull of natural remedies, I broke down at Target. And no, I don’t think I can eat it, so I’m breaking my own rule. It was either that or Monica goes seriously mental. If anyone knows of a good natural lotion (that I can eat! hah), I’m all ears!!! XOXOXO

Wrinkle-Guard

Ah, wrinkles. We try so hard to avoid them, don’t we. In Ayurveda we can read the entire body on the face! Depending on where the wrinkles are, we can see where imbalances lie in the body. A face that has lived a life of laughter, love, and nourishment is quite different from a face that is stressed, worries, and angry. Right? You’ve seen them – think of faces. Some are bright, some are dull. Some you want to stare at and some scare the bejeezes out of you. Emotions manifest in our body and our face reflects our body. Therefore it is true that our faces reflect our emotions.

Vata skin will be the first to wrinkle because their skin is dry and thin. Think about the earth when it’s dry…it cracks. Same with our skin. Vatas have are like an emotional rollercoaster and they tend to race ahead and worry a LOT. They will get the lines across their forehead first and next in line would be crows feet.

Pitta skin will not wrinkle as fast because they have oilier skin. They will likely have crows feet first because they are constantly thinking and squinting. Pitta rules the eyes and if the eyes get “burnt out” (from pitta fire) this person will need glasses or contacts. So, they squint, analyze, criticize and disect what’s in front of them. Pittas are the folks who see sun damage first.

Kapha skin has sort of everlasting youth and doesn’t wrinkle very easily. Their skin is thick, oily, and resistant to most crud in the atmosphere. Kaphas are very mentally sound and they don’t get stressed or shaken by negative emotions as often as vata and pitta. Because their mind stays steady, so does their body, and therefore so does their skin. Lucky are the kaphas!

I have some light crows feet although I think they were worse like two years ago. I don’t know if they are from squinting at a computer screen or from laughing a lot. Probably both. I also have light horizontal lines on my forehead from worry (I like to worry. It’s annoying). Other signals are the two vertical lines between the eyebrows, which reflect deep seated anger or frustration. For more information on goodies like this, Absolute Beauty by Pratima Raichur has all you could ever want to know about skin care. I am completely in love with that book.

Here are some tips to help avoid wrinkles, hooray!
• Yoga inversions. Plough pose, shoulder stand, handstand, headstand, feet up the wall. All great for blood circulation and reducing wrinkles. It works! I’ve seen it on my own face!
Eat well. What you eat turns into your physical body. Garbage in, garbage out.
• Put good stuff on your skin. Your skin eats too so spend some money on it. I love these products from Simply Divine Botanicals – my skincare line of choice!
• Almond oil for crows feet. I do this nightly when it’s really dry outside. Apply a little bit with your ring finger and stroke from the outside of the eye and trace right along the cheek bone. Do these strokes (one direction only) for about 30 seconds and then hit the sack.
• Almond oil over the eyebrows. Start from the inner eyebrows, trace the brow bone (press firm & go slow) to the corner. Releases tension!
Give yourself a natural face-lift. It’s a really simple technique but works wonders to liven skin!
• Breathe. For goodness sakes, please breathe away that tension.
• Stop smoking and drinking too much booze. Enuf said.
• Call me and let me practice facial massage on you :D

Let us also remember that while we can do everything in our power to avoid it, we will eventually get wrinkles. It’s just gonna happen at some point, but it’s kind of a beautiful think because in a way, it’s a map of your life. Make sure to fill it with laughter, enjoyment, serenity, good rest, healthy breath, a career you love, good food, and most of all GREAT LOVE because everyone will see it on your face. mmwwaaaah! xo

Fruitful Skin

Every month I get a really wonderful fruit box in the mail, but this month I got papayas that were past their ripened stage and a little funky lookin’. I called the company and because they are awesome, they are sending me new fruit. But it left me thinking, “What should I do with these papayas?” My first instinct with over ripe fruit is to put it on my face. Hah! I love taking ingredients from the fridge or over ripe fruit and mixing some sort of facial goo.

So, I ran and grabbed a newly favorite natural skin care book, Return To Beauty written by Narine Nikogosian. AND, I’m super excited because I’m going to get a facial from her this week for the first time! *squeal!*

Anywho, her book has over 200 recipes ALL with foods, oils, fruits and things you can eat. Our skin is our largest organ and anything you put on it, gets absorbed into the body. A good rule of thumb is, if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.

The handy part about the book is that you can look up the fruit in the back and it takes you to the recipes in the book. The one I used for papaya is a moisturizer and it’s SO pretty! It looks like orange sherbet and it made my skin super smooth.

I HIGHLY recommend getting your hands on the book! Now I just need a tiny refrigerator for my bathroom so I can keep my sour cream facial cleaner and papaya-nut-yogurt moisturizer in there without having to run up and down the stairs to the kitchen ;) xo

Thyroid Challenge | Breakin out

Hey! Since starting my thyroid challenge, I’ve notice a change. There are a ton of zits near my throat! I’m totally breaking out! Rats. I’ve never gotten zits there in my life. I wonder if it’s the thyroid toxins oozing out? Seems kinda odd that it’s all around that area doesn’t it? Look! And it’s sooo gross and I’m kinda sad :(

But it’s also kind of interesting. My body seems like it’s doin’ it’s thang with the help of the yoga poses. I’ve actually received suggestions about herbs and other things to try for the hypothyroidism, but I really want to try JUST yoga to see if it works. To me, that would just be so awesome. So I’m goin’ bare bones with this. Plus! The yoga teacher in India said that if you do the poses for one month, your thyroid will be fixed. I’m testing the theory to a tee.

Ok, that’s all for now! Next step will be reducing the meds in a few more weeks…keep you posted! xo

Tip: Safflower oil great for skin

Hey!! Safflower is a GREAT oil to use in place of body lotion (a la chemicals) for spring and summer. It’s natural, lightweight, non-heating and makes skin sooooo smooth. I LOVE it! Also apply at night around the eyes to reduce crows feet. xo!

The Difference between Traditional Medicine and Ayurveda

This might be my favorite thing to teach! When I was in the middle of my own healing, I used a blend of acupuncture, therapy, western nutrition, and exercise to find my balance. I found that western nutrition recommendations really failed me, which was a huge let down at the time! So, I went on a search for something more and something that worked better for me. I wanted a deeper healing and deeper answers, as I dug for the roots of, “But what about meeeee!? None of this shizz makes me feel good!”

On the quest to find answers and healing for myself, I found Ayurveda, randomly online. And boy howdy did I find it!! Like a *whomp* on the head and a *flourish* in the heart, there was no stopping me from learning, applying and teaching it — in an instant.

One of the first things we learned in school waaay back in 2007 (ha!), was the difference between traditional medicine and ayurveda. They are like black and white! I remember feeling so refreshed by that at the time. It was like, “Ahhhh…there you are, healing!’ Ayurveda just made so much more sense to me in realizing the mind, body, spirit are all involved and in connecting to nature. It was intuitive to me — I felt like I was home.

Ayurveda takes time and definitely requires a willingness to try something new. If our old habits (and prescriptions) had worked, we wouldn’t be on the search to try something else.

The philosophies of Traditional Medicine and Ayurveda are very different and therefore so is the approach, the practices, and the treatments. Without adding a layer of confusion as to how deep Ayurveda goes, I’ve created a simple chart on how they differ. I’m not saying one is good or bad because both have their place. However, as you are learning, definitely keep them in different buckets because they don’t overlap much.

If you are new to Ayurveda, start here.
And you can take the dosha test here.

In my ideal world, we will use both sciences where they excel — Ayurveda used for prevention and Traditional Medicine for emergencies. If we work on healthy diet & lifestyle habits as individuals, we can avoid most chronic problems that build up over time because of bad choices or bad habits. This would leave more room for the M.D.’s to respond to emergencies as they happen, rather than super-quick-fixing (pharmaceuticals!) health problems that we should be owning like proper diet, good sleep, exercise daily, and promoting habits for a healthy mind. Wouldn’t that blend would be amazing!?! Let’s get to work and begin to create that for ourselves. It starts with us!!

Warming Tip!

For cold hands and feet, apply sesame oil before heading out into the cold. The oil has a “warming” action on the body and will keep blood circulating to those tiny fingies and toes. Cold-pressed Sesame oil – not toasted – in your grocery store! Stay warm!

Massaging Holiday Tissues

Hey! We’re in it! In the thick of the holiday season with plenty of socializing, shopping, baking, traveling, rushing, maybe even stressing. While you’re in the mood to give to others, let’s not forget to give to ourselves too! We are only as good for others as we are for ourselves. Nourishing ourselves first will give us the energy, positivity and that hostess-of-the-mostess “holiday glow.” Your self-love will shine through to your guests and family members and in turn, they will feel more love too. It all starts with ourselves :)

Since it’s vata season, a warm oil massage is about the best gift we can receive for our bodies and minds. Maybe try to set aside some time and cash to give yourself a worthwhile break. Spas may have special holiday deals now or you could check with a massage school if your budget is tight. OR! Better yet, put massage on your holiday wish list! Suggest that a few family members to go in together to purchase a nice massage gift certificate for you. There is no better feeling than knowing you have a massage gift certificate waiting for you!

See the article Oil Massage for Busy People to fit in your massage daily. Even a little does wonders!

Obviously a massage feels good, but there are great health benefits too:
– Tones and strengthens all tissues in the body
– Improves digestion
– Improves circulation, therefore increasing longevity
Reduces stress
– Eases anxiety (the sense of touch soothes vata)
– Eases tension headaches
– Nourishes, softens and moisturizes the skin
– Anti-aging
– Releases toxins
– Relives muscle tension and stiffness, improving flexibility
– Strengthens the immune system

And if this list isn’t enough, then just go because it feels good!! You will be happier to give to others once you have given yourself some nourishment and peace of mind first. I promise!

Food Influences Skin

Still on the kick with my favorite book, Absolute Beauty by Pratima Raichur. Our skin is a direct reflection about what’s happening on our insides. She talks about how we cannot hope to have nice skin if we don’t change our eating habits because on a cellular level, our bodies are composed of the food we eat. So, eating processed, stale, and life-less foods, will create aged and lifeless skin.

For example, what does your skin look like after having too much to drink the night before…NOT pretty!! Oh come on, you’ve seen it. Puffy eyes, extra dry skin…Now imagine what that does over time. And since the skin is a reflection of our insides, IMAGINE what it does to our internal bods! I will be blunt. If your diet consists of regular consumption of coffees, sodas, alcohol, fast foods, fried foods, refined sugars, you are not on the right track (I don’t mean to be rude), because these things are not “food!” These won’t affect you too terribly when taken on a very occasional basis, but there are many people who have these as staples in their diet. And I’m here to say that…it’s not really ok.

(if you are mad, you can write and yell at me…but I’m trying to heal people here)

On the other hand, foods that are high in prana (life energy) like veggies, fruits, grains, milk, ghee, and healthy fats will give your skin a glow! You will notice that fine lines go away, the nice fats keep your skin supple, and there will be a radiance about your skin. I bet a million dollars that you will FEEL better too – and your mind will be more clear.

When skin is happy, we know our insides are happy. Our skin is one of the BEST tools we have to use to see what’s happening inside. That and, poop.

Namasté!

Natural Face-Lift

Hooray!! I have more goodies from my favorite book, Absolute Beauty, by Dr. Pratima Raichur. This little ritual is super fun and I think all the ladies will especially enjoy it. The book discusses some simple techniques for a natural face-lift to raise droops and erase any lines. “Sign me UP,” you say? Right on, keep reading!

Let me fill you in about why it works first. We have marma points (mini energy centers) throughout our bodies. These marma points are found along srotas, or channels, that run from head to toe. Really similar to acupuncture! Stimulating these points release stored energy and stimulate flow. One reason why we get wrinkles is because we are making the same expression over and over – and our faces “get stuck that way” (your mom ever tell you that when you made a goofy face?). Ok not really stuck, but you know what I mean.

Dr. Raichur writes, “Massage not only helps skin to look younger, smoother, clearer more radiant, but also helps the body to overcome tension and fatigue, and the mind to feel peaceful and refreshed.” We hold a lot of tension in our face that we probably don’t even realize. Try pinching your eyebrows or pressing your temples – maybe a little tender? Yep, we hold a lot of stress in our face, so let’s remove some! Yeehaw!

Ok. Let’s get to the good stuff.

The Natural Face-Lift Massage by Pratima Raichur (all the words are hers, the drawing is mine)
Using your middle finger, massage each point below in clockwise direction for twenty to thirty seconds.

1. center of chin (relief for head colds)
2. both corners of the mouth
3. center bone between the nose and upper lip
4. outside corners of nose where nostrils flare (corresponds to small intestines and relieves sinuses)
5. center of cheek bones. Push up on underside of bone and massage
6. lower lids just above cheekbone. *Press gently with ring finger, do not massage
7. brows. Use bottom of thumbs to press upward on the inside corner of eyebrows at bridge of nose. Then with thumb and forefinger, pinch each brow across the whole arch from inside to outside corner. Repeat (When done correctly, this may cause mild soreness due to stored tension. Good for headaches and bladder problems)
8. temples. Use flat fingers to massage gently
9. third eye (between eye brows)
10. crown. Place both hands on top of the head and move them rapidly back and forth to vibrate the scalp.

TADAAAA! Do you love it?! You can do this whenever you think of it. Daily is great, but we don’t always have that time. Great to do before bed as it always zonks me out. Happy Lifting!!

Nourishing Oil Massage

Pineapple Mask

Dude! Pineapple makes a great face mask, especially for sensitive pitta skin. If you have other fruit hanging around, banana is good for dry vata skin, and strawberries are good for oily kapha. So fun!

Just mash up the fruit and put it on clean skin. Fling your feet up above your heart and rest for 10-15 minutes. Rinse! You can do this once a week. If you try it and love the effects, let me know.