Did you know PRATIMA Ayurvedic Spa was the 1st day spa in NYC to be built in accordance with the guidelines of the U.S. Green Building Council? So many hours of work went in to creating such a space and not taking shortcuts – so what can we say, we’re proud! Pratima tells us that when she walks through the spa doors every morning, she feels like her life’s work has paid off. When she arrives at work, she quietly whispers to herself, ‘thank you’, as she sets her eyes on the beautiful space reflected before her…
Do you smile at yourself when you look in the mirror? So often without realizing it, our personal thoughts can be so critical and harsh. We are indeed our #1 judge. The first yama (rule or code) of the yoga sutras is known as ahimsa, which means refraining from causing pain to any living creature. This refers not only to physical violence, but also to the violence of words or thoughts. What we think about ourselves or others can be as powerful as any attempt to physically harm. Any sort of mastery of ahimsa begins with you. This is really what true beauty is. So go on, be brave, be kind, let it go, and smile…
Every year contains a full dosha cycle, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which makes up the three Ayurvedic seasons. Likewise, all three doshas are within each individual (in unique proportion). Since we are currently in Pitta Season (approx. June – September), let’s take a closer look at the Pitta dosha…
Ruled by fire and water, Pitta is known as the force of transformation. Fire and water’s relationship is not based on similarity, but rather on the exchanging dominance of one over the other for the purpose of fueling important life processes.
For example, too much fire will result in the boiling away and evaporation of the water. Too much water will result in the fire being put out altogether. Therefore, this shifting energy needs to be kept in balance in order to achieve optimal transformation in the mind and body.
Pitta is responsible for digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition levels, metabolism, our body-temperature, skin coloration, the luster of our eyes, our intelligence, and all perception and understanding.
Every single one of us harbors the forces of all three doshas (because all three are needed in order to sustain life). So take a moment right now and allow your gaze to turn inward – try and sense the force of Pitta within you. Can you witness all the changes happening in your body? Can you feel digestion? The Pitta dosha absorbs and transforms everything we receive, all stimuli; it takes-in one thing and makes it into another, including the way we uniquely comprehend our own thoughts. If we literally digest every thought we think, ask yourself if your thoughts are nourishing you….
Someone who has a dominant Pitta dosha may take on some of these physical characteristics: Medium build, generally proportionate – Develops muscles easily – Sensitive, combination skin – Luminous glow with large pores in the T-zone – Eyes are bright and have a penetrating gaze – Lips and eyes are medium sized, nose is often sharp – Hair is silky and thin, often with red hues – Nails are soft, pink and well formed – Skin is soft and warm to the touch – Voracious appetite – Good digestive power – Speech is clear, sharp, and precise – Sleeps little, but sound – Sensitive to bright light
Common psychological characteristics of a dominant Pitta dosha: Intellectual with warm personality – Good leader – Fiery, chivalrous and passionate – Asks many questions – Metaphorical and interpretive thinkers – Mental energy is sharp and focused – Competitive drive, highly ambitious – Great delegates, pioneers – Adaptable – Sensitive and compassionate – Extremely Visual
When Pitta is imbalanced (meaning it is present in excess), some of the most common things it can physically lead to are: hypersensitivity of the skin, blotchy redness, rashes, hives and dry patches, inflammation, ulcers, acidity, excess heat, thinning/graying hair, high blood pressure, and insatiable hunger. Acne in the t-zone or eczema may also develop.
Psychologically imbalanced Pitta can lead to: frustration, anger, jealousy, aggression, arrogance, irritability, impatience, over-achievement, perfectionism, and the potential of becoming spiteful, critical and judgmental.
Take a look at our most recent Pitta Season Newsletter for great tips, exercises, suggestions, songs, delicious recipes & more! Our newsletter is offered only three times a year. It is a completely free resource to optimize your season and you can receive it personally!
For those of you who still don’t know your dosha, take this quiz and find out!
I think most would agree that an unhealthy diet is a huge factor in the cause of imbalance and disease, however, when it comes to skin care, there is a bit more debate on whether the foods we eat really have an effect.
What is your skin telling you?
Ayurveda believes that everything we put into and onto the body (this includes the foods we eat, the thoughts we think, and the skin care products we use) is ingested as food and transformed into our physical body, which is also known as annamaya kosha or quite literally, the food sheath.
Every thought we think, emotion we feel, food we eat, and environmental atmosphere we exist within, shows up on the skin. And this relationship is also reciprocal. Food not only builds, fuels, and repairs every cell in the body, but it also fuels and effects our thoughts and emotions. As you probably have experienced or witnessed, different types of food, or the lack of it, can make or break a mood. Indeed, what you eat is important to both your physical condition and your mental/emotional health.
Ayurveda is not a one-size-fits-all approach
Ayurveda does not believe there is one perfect menu suitable for everyone. Orange juice, cold cereal and skim milk, the staples of an all-American breakfast, may give energy and a “Special K” figure to some types of people, but Ayurveda predicts that the same meal will leave others with an upset stomach or late morning fatigue. No food is intrinsically good or bad according to Ayurveda, but each person depending on his or her constitution reacts differently to it.
Ok, so if no food is intrinsically bad, why do some people claim to breakout just by looking at french fries or chocolate? Ayurveda classifies all foods (and herbs) according to six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. Like all of nature, the animals, vegetables and minerals we eat each contain their own unique proportion of space, air, fire, water, and earth and this is where the taste of each food is derived from, the balance of its elements. Foods with more earth and water, like grains, naturally taste more sweet; those with more air and space, like green leafy vegetables, naturally taste more bitter. Each taste affects the mind and body according to the attributes of the elements within it. Sweet tastes soothe, lubricate, ground, and nourish the psychophysiology, just as you would expect the dense, viscous earth to do. Bitter tastes lighten, stimulate and dehydrate, just as you would expect a burst of cold air to do.
So what should I eat?
According to the law of “like increases like,” the best diet for you is one that compensates for your particular dominating elements. Pitta types, for example, are better off to reduce the consumption of sour, salty, and pungent foods, all of which contain fire and aggravate sensitive, reactive skin types that are prone to allergies, rashes, and breakouts in the t-zone. The Kapha person, with a sweet, heavy earth constitution and oily skin type tends to get breakouts from anything chocolate or greasy, but can delight in hot, spicy salsa with pretzels (with relative abandon). Dry-skinned Vata types can indulge in oily foods without breaking out, although too much spice or dry, cold dishes can cause a great deal of imbalance. Keep in mind, that if the skin is in relative balance, a little bit of anything is ok – the need to eliminate something entirely from your diet comes when there is already a health or skin condition present. We can use food to regain balance and then enjoy just about anything in moderation.
Unsure of your dosha? Take our What’s your dosha? quiz to find out.
You are both flower and gardener
To look at our health and skin conditions without careful regard to diet is, in Ayurvedic terms, equivalent to tending a garden without checking soil quality or the amount of moisture and sunshine it receives. Even in the West, we would instantly fire a gardener who failed to attend such a basic principle of life. Yet for many years, we have continued to support a medical system that regularly ignores it. Thanks to the work of many people, one of them being Dr. Dean Ornish, the cardiologist who reversed the symptoms of advanced heart disease in 40 patients through non-pharmaceutical treatment, including meditation and diet, the broader medical community is beginning to recognize the therapeutic potential contained in ‘ordinary’ foods. Nevertheless, modern science still seems to be wiser about how to grow perfect flowers, than how to grow healthy, happy beautiful people.
…or the lack of! It seems to be the #1 hot topic these days. When we spoke with Dr. Raichur about it, she had a lot to say, including the story of when the King got sick…
When the King got sick, Ayurvedic doctors from far and wide came to find out why the King was ailing and to help bring him back into health. Each doctor had a different theory and after this medicine and that, one remedy right after the next, none proved to be the proper antidote.
One day an old wise doctor came to see the King and after their visit together, he said that the King only needed one thing… He needs the shirt of the man who is truly happy. All the King’s servants found delight in this seemingly simple solution and went off to find just what the doctor ordered.
So they began by asking each person in the kingdom, Are you happy?… Are you happy?… Knowing that the King’s health was dire, the people of the kingdom helped in this quest by asking one another, Are you happy?… Are you happy?… Soon enough, everyone was asking one another if they were happy, but to all’s surprise, there was not a single person in the kingdom who could say ‘yes, I am truly happy’.
In dismay, the King’s closest servant found himself sulking under a tree about to relinquish his quest, when a stranger to the kingdom passed by. The servant was desperate to help the King, he went up to the man and explained what he was in search of and what the King needed in order to get better… When the servant finally asked the man, So, are you happy?, the man said, Yes, I AM happy! But unfortunately I do not own a shirt for which to give.
The servant had an idea; he took the man to the King’s house and gave him a beautiful shirt to wear and some other clothes to call his own. A week later, the servant asked the man if he would give his shirt to the King… And somewhat jokingly, the man said, Yes I can give my shirt to the King, but unfortunately, this makes me a little unhappy.
Why do we need money?
Certainly we need to provide ourselves with the daily essentials, but nowadays it seems like the more we have, the more we need, like a “keeping up with the Jones” epidemic. For example, we need transportation, to be able to go from point A to point B. Perhaps we need a car. We always have choices, we could buy the simplest and most efficient car or we could buy a really expensive, souped-up car. Now we’re not trying to say that life isn’t to be enjoyed or that life isn’t full of desires! Cars may be one of life’s true joys for you. Well, life is for the living and should be lived to the fullest! But to have a preference or desire for something does not mean that you have to be unhappy with what it is you already have or that you’re happiness is dependent on attaining your desires. And confusing the expensive, souped-up car as something that you need is the first step in the unhappiness rabbit-hole. It is not something you need, it is a preference.
Learn to say I prefer… There is a big difference between need and preference. The “I prefer” mentality will keep you having a healthy intention behind your money and lifestyle goals and will attract more of what you want in the long run. In the car example, try to get in tune with this mentality… I am truly grateful for the car I have, a lot of work went into this car and it takes me from one place to another, but I would prefer to have that one! Preferences and desires are healthy and natural and good! Money desires should always be backed with good, healthy intentions or it will otherwise bring happiness. Think less about the money and more about what you want to do with the money and it will come. Good intentions are always met and fulfilled. Spend more of your time thinking about your good intentions and desires that comes from the ‘I prefer’ place and the money will come.
It’s not the amount that we have, but the way we think about it, that makes us rich or poor. We think if we buy something, that it belongs to me; I own it; I am rich. This new thing somehow says something about me — I am successful; I am fun; I am this or that. This type of desire fulfills for as long as a child’s attention span — a few minutes until the void comes back and new, malnourished desires arise. When you accept the fact that you really do not own anything except your intentions and your actions, you’ll realize that fulfillment, happiness and richness cannot be bought. Peace has to come from inside — if you are peaceful from within, your life will feel fulfilling and truly abundant.
Every year contains a full dosha cycle, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which makes up the Ayurvedic seasons. Likewise, all three doshas are within each individual (in unique proportion). Since we are currently in Kapha Season, let’s take a closer look at the Kapha dosha…
Ruled by Water and Earth, Kapha is known as the fluid force of cohesion. It is responsible for all structure and lubrication in the body.
For example, if we take a jar, fill it halfway with water and then add sand, the sand will gradually sink to the bottom of the jar, separating from the water. The only way to keep the sand in equilibrium with the water is by stirring the mixture continuously. Kapha is the steady stirring energy that keeps the water and earth together.
Kapha is responsible for our physical structure; it maintains the body’s resistance, lubricates the joints, provides moisture to the skin, helps to heal wounds, fills the spaces within the body, gives biological strength, vigor and stability, supports memory retention, gives energy to the heart and lungs, and maintains immunity.
Every single one of us harbors the forces of all three doshas because all three are needed in order to sustain life. So take a moment right now and allow your gaze to turn inward – try and sense the force of Kapha within you. Focus in on your flesh, joints and bones and all the anatomical structures that are contained and connected inside your body. Kapha has healed your wounds, has enabled your physical growth, and is the energy behind your strength, stamina and stability. Kapha also enables memory retention and sustains it over time. Try and recall your earliest memory and see this memory in relationship to where you are in this moment.
Kapha is the cohesion in all that exists: the earth, the massive planet we walk on, the cool soil that bears the crops, the sturdy slope of an old mountain; and the deep cradle of the ocean.
Someone who has a dominant Kapha dosha may take on some of these physical characteristics: Larger, well-built frame – Evenly proportionate – Skin is clear with larger pores – Eyes are moist and prominent – Lips are full and pale – Large, strong teeth – Hair is thick, lustrous and usually wavy – Nails are clear and pale – Cool and moist to the touch – Constant and strong appetite – Great endurance – Good immunity – Slow, steady pace – Sleep is long and deep – Senses of taste and smell are sensitive
Common psychological characteristics of a dominant Kapha dosha: Caring, steady, and calm – Not easily irritated, strong and stable – Loving – Self-sufficient – Great long- term memory – Mental and physical energy is steady and enduring – Loves routine – Make good providers, dependable – Serene, warm, nurturing – Romantic and loyal
When Kapha is imbalanced (present in excess), some of the most common symptoms it can physically lead to are: Lethargy – Weight gain – Congestion – Asthma – Prolonged sleep – Excessive oiliness – Blackheads – Cystic acne – Cysts – Edema – Water retention and swelling.
Psychologically imbalanced Kapha can lead to emotions of: Depression – Attachment – Greed, and long-standing grudges or envy – Possessiveness and becoming withdrawn.
You can take a sneak peek at our most recent Kapha Season Newsletter for great tips, exercises, suggestions, songs, delicious recipes & more! Our newsletter is offered only three times a year and is a completely free resource to optimize your season! Click on the link and make sure to sign-up at the top!
For those of you who don’t know your dosha, take this quiz and find out!
Finding “The One”…
Is it possible? Does “the one” even exist?
I truly believe each person has several soul mates, but the choices we make in life, determine the roads we walk upon. So crossing paths with “the one” or with “one of the ones” becomes a matter of karma. I’ll explain…
Karma has two different dimensions to it. One aspect of karma is the conditions in your life that are yet to be fulfilled – this is the larger picture, “karmic blueprint” that you may have heard of. The second dimension of karma is your thoughts, choices and actions – these ultimately create future karma because every thought, choice and action leads to something else that requires more thought, choice and action. Thus every relationship you have in life, especially important ones such as your romantic partnerships, significantly affect and likewise, are significantly affected, by your karma (the conditions that have yet to be fulfilled as well as every thought, choice and action you take.)
So, are you spinning in circles yet? You can stop because what does this all come down to? YOU. YOU are “the one” !
Bottom line, no other person can fulfill your own karma. We often look for someone to make us happy or expect our partners to do so. Certainly people can inspire wonderful feelings, but your life is yours to live, to commit to, to seek joy and fulfillment and then to SHARE this joy and fulfillment with the ones you love. No one person can constantly remedy the shifting whims of someone else’s discontentment. True happiness cannot be out-sourced.
Ingredient for happiness? Respect. Every relationship, including the one with yourself, is about respect. And respect can only come from the awareness that each individual has his/her own individual karma to fulfill.
Loving with whole heart is to love someone separate from his/her relationship to you. Loving yourself whole-heartedly is to respect yourself, no matter what others may do to you or what they may think of you.
There are many tried & true ayurvedic methods on how to achieve happiness. They are as vast as they are diverse and if you find the appropriate one for your current mindset and lifestyle, it can be profoundly effective. Despite the diversity, all these techniques have the same aim, to cultivate awareness. That is Ayurveda, awareness.
Some examples of these techniques include: meditation (in all its varied forms), breathing techniques (pranayama), detoxifications (periodic cleansing), sense therapies (lifestyle choices of sound, color, nutrition, massage, and aroma therapies), exercise (yoga asanas or any other mind/body practice), mantra work (japa meditation, bakti yoga chanting etc.) and many more…
I would love to talk about each one of these techniques in the hopes that it can bring a useful tool to at least one of my readers.
Am I happy? Who is the right person for me? What choices should I make?
The answers to these questions are profoundly personal and lie deep within each individual. Sometimes it requires a bit of patience for “what’s right” to come out of hiding, but it is there and it will.
Remember…the purpose of every relationship, including the one with yourself, is to make life more beautiful, more healthy and more joyful within every passing day.
Cleansing with Herbs:
The most commonly found skin cleansers often contain chemical surfactants that not only cause irritation, but also degenerate skin proteins, which allow environmental toxins easier access to the deeper, more vulnerable layers of skin tissue. So then why would these irritants be used? For a number of different reasons, but a large one being that these chemicals are inexpensive and therefore, can be mass-produced.
Unfortunately, in ‘modern’ society, we have become used to cleansers that foam and suds when we wash and have formed an attachment to the notion of ‘squeaky-clean’. However, prolonged use of these types of cleansers, strip the skin of its natural oils that keep us looking young! They severely over dry the under tissues and consistently alter the pH of the skin, making us reliant on toners to rebalance again and again and again. A true roller coaster ride is what these types of cleansers offer and yet we wonder why our skin breaks out or looks dull or oily or is hard to keep balanced.
Why all of this when nature has given us the perfect cleansers already; pure, healing plants that are profoundly effective. Cleansing with herbs has so many benefits: they remove deep-seated dirt and toxins without causing irritation nor the degeneration of skin tissue; when massaged into the skin they promote healthy exfoliation, increase circulation, stimulate skin’s metabolic processes and even deliver protein-rich nutrients that visibly rejuvenate the complexion, all without altering the natural pH of the skin.
Pure, all natural herbs for cleansing are readily out there and available — just look and make sure to read ALL the ingredients. We offer dosha-specific herbal cleansers at pratimaskincare.com. But for the adventurer, here are two great face & body recipes for you to try at home!
Basic Herbal Face Cleanser:
(For daily use)
Mix ¼ teaspoon organic turmeric powder + 1 tablespoon organic chickpea flour.
To this mixture add:
For dry skin: 1 tsp sweet almond oil or sesame oil + 2 Tbsp. water
For sensitive skin: 2 Tbsp. of milk only
For oily skin: 2 Tbsp. water + 2 drops of lemon juice
Combine to make a liquidy paste. Massage all over the face in circular motions while cleansing and gently exfoliating. Rinse.
Luxurious Herbal Body Cleanser/Deep exfoliator:
(For monthly use)
Mix 2 Tbsp. red lentil powder into ½ cup organic whole milk. Soak overnight. The next day add to mixture: 1 tsp. almond butter + 1 tsp. cashew butter + 1 tsp. dried milk + ½ tsp wheat germ oil. Mix ingredients. Apply paste all over face and body and massage. If you have the time, place a towel in your bathtub or shower, and relax for 15-20 minutes, allowing herbal paste to dry and the nutrients time to soak in. Using your hands or a dry towel, gently rub off dry paste in a circular motion. Rinse. Your skin will be deeply nourished and silky soft! Follow with an herbal oil massage to relieve dryness and provide ultra nourishment & glowing radiance.
Note: If you would like to use this mixture to cleanse your body on a more current basis, add rosewater to further liquefy the mixture.
What is Ayurveda?
Can we use Ayurveda in today’s modern lifestyle?
For some, the notion of Ayurveda connotes a strange, intangible subject, an antiquated ideology completely irrelevant to the modern day lifestyle. Others have found an intimate connection with the insights offered through Ayurveda and have incorporated this science on a practical, daily basis. And of course, as is always true in life, there are many, many people in between those two perspectives — the vast grey area, if you will.
For those of you who don’t know about Ayurveda, I’ll briefly give explanation, but please know that this summation in no way does justice to the subject, which dates back over 5,000 years. So as I describe to you below, please know that I do so humbly.
The term Ayurveda derives from the Sanskrit words ayu and veda. Ayu translates as “life” and veda as “knowledge” or “science”, thus Ayurveda is known as the science of life. Ayurveda, originating from India, employs a holistic mind-body system of healing, that was originally established with 8 branches of medicine, including pediatrics, toxicology, surgery, and internal medicine, to name a few. It is both preventative and profoundly curative.
Ayurveda states that there are five fundamental elements that comprise all of nature; this includes each and every one of us. These elements, Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth, are uniquely distributed within every individual, like a fingerprint or a snowflake or a one-of-a-kind blueprint – no two are exactly the same. Your specific blueprint is known as your prakruti or constitution, which you have embedded in you from the moment of conception. However, when we are born and as we live our lives, outside factors can sway us away from our constitution; and this natural occurrence is known as our current condition or dosha.
Ayurveda provides the knowledge and awareness to use your dosha, as a ‘compass’ – through concrete holistic guidelines, helping you to navigate yourself back into what your original state of being was – a precious and phenomenal state free from imbalance and disease.
So Ayurveda today… is it possible? After all, it was established before the industrial and media ages, before today’s complex demands, dual-income necessities, and the modern lifestyle. Others may argue that amidst all life’s evolutions, Ayurveda is a science that has stood the test of time, which still has profound impact today and has proved it in curing ailments that have defied top western physicians.
My aim with this blog is to establish a place where people can discuss these issues and share insights. I hope that at the very least, Ayurveda can be taken out of the realm of the mystical and into the realm of accessible – a viable and profound path towards beauty, health and wellness.
Vata dosha is defined by the inherent interaction and exchange between the elements of space and air. The amount of space affects the ability of the air to gain momentum. However, if space is unrestricted and boundless, the air has freedom and become as forceful as a hurricane. This is why Vata is known as the force of mobility, responsible for all movement in the mind, body and emotions…
Some examples of the functions that Vata governs: breathing, blinking, movements in the muscles and tissues, pulsations in the heart, all expansion and contraction in the body, the movements of cytoplasm and cellular membranes, the movement of the single impulses in nerve cells, as well as hearing and speech functions.
Every single one of us harbors the forces of all three doshas because all three are needed to sustain life. So take a moment right now, close your eyes and try to sense all these functions mentioned above, all that is moving within you. Feel your heart beating, your breath, the widening and narrowing of your rib cage with each inhalation and exhalation, hear all the sounds around you and within you, can you sense the flow of your blood, the flow of your thoughts… Try and be with your Vata.
We all have the Vata dosha within, but someone who has a dominant Vata dosha may take on some of these physical characteristics:
- Lighter and thinner frame
- Either tall or short
- Prominent joints and bones
- Thin, dry skin, with fine pores
- Small and ‘active eyes’, usually dark brown or dark grey
- Lips are generally thin and dry
- Teeth tend to be small and crooked
- Hair is usually dark, thin, dry and frizzy
- Nails are dry and thin
- Nose, hands and feet are often cold to the touch
- Irregular eating, small appetites
- Shorter stamina
- Little perspiration
- Quick speech and pace
- Light, short, and often interrupted sleep
- Sensitive to both sound and touch
These are common psychological characteristics of a dominant Vata dosha:
- Creative, Imaginative and enthusiastic
- Makes friends easily
- Quick and lively
- Learns fast
- Stronger short – term memory, than long- term
- Mental and physical energy come in bursts
- Very active with continuously changing lifestyle
- Great speakers, flowing thought patterns
- Accommodating to the needs of others
- Very generous with their time, money, and anything else they can offer
When Vata becomes imbalanced (meaning it is present in excess), some of the most common things it can physically lead to are: joint pain, chills, gas, constipation, lower back pain, tremors, loss of appetite, insomnia, fainting and various other disturbing irregularities. The skin can also show signs of dehydration, flakiness, and excess or premature wrinkling.
Psychologically imbalanced Vata will be restless with anxiety, worry, and lack of focus, will be nervous, fearful, unable to sit still, be indecisive and have low tolerance.
Many different factors disturb Vata including the stress of excess activity, strenuous exercise, constant travel, improper diet, the season of autumn, and especially an overly irregular routine.
More blog entries to come for remedies and suggestions on how to balance Vata and live in harmony… with yourself!