I visited a spa where they practice Ayurveda. The esthetician told me I had “Vata” or dry skin, and her treatment was based on this. I was quite pleased with the result. Have you heard of this, and is it organic?
I’m pleased to take this question, as I’ve been practicing and teaching Ayurveda since becoming a mind-body health educator for the Chopra Center for Well-Being in 1997.
Ayurveda (Sanskrit for “science of life”) is recognized by the World Health Organization as an effective medical science and has undergone extensive research at the National Institutes of Health. Many studies suggest that Ayurvedic therapies may reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors, as well as prevent or treat certain cancers, infectious diseases, immune system deficiencies, neurological disorders, and hormonal problems.
Practiced in India for over 5,000 years, this natural system of healing draws on elements of meditation, yoga, pranayama, nutrition/herbalism, along with sensory modulation techniques, including massage, aroma, color, and sound/music therapies.
Ayurveda focuses on the mind-body connection and teaches that our experiences—including perceptions and lifestyle choices—are metabolized into molecules in our bodies.
At its heart and soul, Ayurveda guides us in determining our unique mind-body type (called “doshas”). We can then strive for a harmonious balance between these three doshas, or mind-body energies—Vata (air), Pitta (fire), and Kapha (earth)—that make up our constitution. This mind-body network influences our physical appearance—body frame, eyes, complexion, hair—along with the way we typically think, act, move, eat, and sleep. All three energies are in us—with one generally predominant, while another often sub-dominant.
With its spiritual underpinnings, Ayurveda recognizes there is this magnificent life force energy that flows through us and around us—creating wholeness in mind, body, spirit, and environment. When we disrupt this energy (read: uncontrolled stress!), patterns of dis-ease may set in, and can manifest both externally and internally. Naturally, the items we use as we engage in Ayurvedic practices require our discernment in making the organic choice.
Following is a brief snapshot of the doshas.
Vata represents movement—that of the body, thoughts, food, blood, and more. Vata energy is light, cold, dry, irregular, and highly active. Predominant Vata types are naturally creative, lively, and stimulating. Imbalance or excessive “airiness” may come through as anxiety or restlessness, loss of skin tone, dry skin and hair, irregular digestion, constipation, insomnia, aching joints, and more. To balance, these individuals should reduce overstimulation and integrate more routine into their daily lives making certain to get ample sleep, gentle exercise, a regular, healthful, and warming diet (including fluids), and avoid becoming anxious. Nourishing plant and essential oils nurture the skin.