My family traditions have deeply influenced my life, particularly those of my father’s family from India. My namesake grandmother was the daughter of a master of Ayurveda—the “science of balance.” Put in simple terms, Ayurveda is based on the belief that we are all a mix of three constitutions, categorized collectively as “doshas,” or “life energies.” When our doshas are out of balance, it manifests in the mind, body and overall well-being. And too often our skin is the first thing that gets noticeably affected! Below are three of my family’s secrets for creating a mind-body-skin balance.
1. Breathe Slowly
I know what you are thinking, that everyone is telling you to “breathe,” and you are! It’s even written on the walls of your local yoga studio. But here’s a nuance to help you maximize the benefit of breathing: With your lungs completely expanded, hold your breath on full for three seconds, and then exhale as slowly and comfortably as you can. The key is in the slow release, which is proven to stimulate the vagus nerve. Doing so releases a neurotransmitter that slows heart rate and blood pressure and can create “inner calm on demand.” The relaxation created by slowly exhaling can help you soften facial muscles and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. And I promise you will just simply feel more balanced.
2. Hydrate Adequately
Because our environments and food expose us to many toxins, it’s crucial to flush these toxins out of your body to stay in balance. An easy way to do this for glowing, healthy skin is to drink water. We all know that drinking 64 ounces of water a day is the standard recommendation, but some of us don’t necessarily hydrate from doing so. Ayurveda teaches adding lemon or lime to your water and drinking it slowly while seated first thing in the morning. The citrus helps the body absorb the water and hydrate cells. It also has an added benefit of loosening toxins in the body. The warmer the water, the better.
3. Find Your Happy Place
Easier said than done, I know. I’ve learned that when I am super stressed, being in nature is the easiest way for me to recalibrate, whether by taking a run on the beach or just a few deep breaths while I manicure the roses in my office garden between conference calls. It is crucial to come up with your own stress-buster techniques, because when we are frazzled our bodies produce stress hormones, including cortisol, which is responsible for our flight-or-fight response to threats. When our cortisol levels stay too high for too long, the effect creates an imbalance. Our survival instinct kicks in and our body starts pumping more blood to our hearts and muscles to help us run faster from the proverbial saber-toothed tiger chasing us. In turn, our skin (our largest organ) gets deprived of oxygen, which may lead to inflammation and premature aging. High cortisol levels have also been connected to significant loss of collagen, responsible for the connective tissue supporting healthy skin. And if that isn’t enough of a reason to find a happy place, a prolonged cortisol bump may also increase the skin’s production of sebum, increasing the chances of a breakout. Since life is inevitably going to have its stressors, create a technique that will defend your body once they do happen.
There you have it—three doable Ayurvedic tips to incorporate into your daily routine. Seek balance and you’ll be on your way to a happier, healthier mind and body and gorgeous, glowing skin!
READERS—How else do you apply Ayurveda in your skin care routine? Share it with us in the comments section below.