Recently, Ayurveda has been having a profound impact upon the world of health care with the help of amazing and knowledgeable advocates of Ayurveda such as Vasant Lad, David Frawley, Deepak Chopra, Marc Halpern and others.
Our skin is one of the largest organs of the body. It reflects what is going on inside us. To achieve perfect skin, it is not enough to find good moisturizers and have facial treatments. We have to understand our body constitution, our tendencies and the causes of the imbalances we have.
Ayurveda views health and disease as the result of how we interact with our environment. Harmonious interactions lead to health while disharmonious (or discordant) interactions lead to disease. Ayurveda is the science of developing greater harmony with our environment through all our senses. Ayurveda focuses on living in harmony with the rhythms of nature, which include age, climate, season, and rhythm of a particular day. Each one expresses its own qualities.
Understanding the five fundamental elements and their qualities and principles gives us the opportunity to work on the problems that we have, and it is more powerful from a long-term perspective than taking pills or getting injections.
Fundamentals of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is built around the five elements (ether, air, fire, water, and earth); the unique combinations of the elements come together to make up the doshas – the biological energies of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. When in balance, the doshas maintain the proper functioning of systems of the body; when one or two of the doshas dominate or are increased due to certain diet and lifestyle habits, they create imbalance, which might lead to a disease.
Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, these three biological energies (doshas), are in every human body. -. However, everyone has his or her own unique combination of these three doshas, and this makes us what we are – physically, mentally, and emotionally. At a very young age, about 4-5 years old, I constantly asked my mother “why am I made the way I am? Why am I different from my sister and my friends? Where do my thoughts come from?” Now Ayurveda gives me the answers.
The combination of the doshas gives us our specific body and skin type. Knowing how these energies work, what causes them to be out of balance, and how we can bring them back into harmony can provide us with beautiful skin and good/better health.
Let me shed light on the doshas now.
Composed of ether and air. Means “that which moves things”.
Qualities: dry, cold, light, rough, subtle, hard, clear, and mobile
Primary site is the colon. In addition, Vata sits in bones, skin, thighs, hips, and ears.
Physical Attributes: Long, thin, small body
Emotions when in balance: Enthusiastic, energetic, adaptable, artistic, good communicator, strong sense of human unity, strong healing energy, positive spirit, good capacity for positive change and movement
Emotions when out of balance: Anxious, overwhelmed, indecisive, unreliable, hyperactive, overly talkative, superficial, disruptive, fearful, and dishonest
Common Physical Challenges: Dry skin, constipation, insomnia, anxiety, underweight
Balanced by: Heavy, Moist, Warm, and Stable qualities
Composed of fire and water. Means “that which digests things”.
Qualities: oily, hot, light, sharp, clear, and slightly moist
Primary site is the small intestine. In addition, Pitta sits in blood, liver, organ of vision [Do you mean in the eyes? Organ of vision is confusing otherwise.], and skin.
Physical Attributes: Medium build and features, muscular, deep set eyes, angular face, rosy or red complexion
Emotions when in balance: Perceptive, clear, intelligent, independent, warm, friendly, courageous, discriminating, good guide and leader
Emotions when out of balance: Aggressive, selfish, controlling, angry, critical, reckless, manipulative, sharp, jealous, hateful
Common Physical Challenges: Burning indigestion, diarrhea, acne, fever.
Balanced by: Heavy, Cold, Stable, Slightly Dry qualities
Composed of earth and water. Means “that which holds things together”.
Qualities: heavy, cold, moist, soft, dull, steady, solid
Primary site is the stomach. In addition, Kapha sits in chest, throat, lymph, fat, and pancreas.
Physical Attributes: Large bones, stocky built, good musculature, soft skin, and luxurious hair
Emotions when in balance: Compassionate, calm, peaceful, content, devoted, nurturing, supportive, stable, loving, receptive, forgiving, consistent, strong faith
Emotions when out of balance: Attached, controlling, sentimental, materialistic, greedy, apathetic, slow comprehension, insensitive, needing security, seeking comfort and luxury
Common Physical Challenges: Respiratory challenges, increased mucous, overweight, lethargy
Balanced by: Light, Warm, Mobile, Dry qualities
There are 10 types of the skin from Ayurvedic perspective:
Dry ( Vata-type)
Dry & Slightly sensitive (Vata-Pitta type)
Dry with thicker texture (Vata-Kapha type)
Sensitive & prone to redness (Pittta type)
Sensitive & Slightly dehydrated (Pitta-Vata type)
Sensitive& slightly oily & thick (Pitta-Kapha type)
Oily (Kapha type)
Oily & Slightly sensitive (Kapha-Pitta)
Oily T-zone with dry forehead & cheeks (Kapha-Vata type)
Absolutely perfect skin (Tridoshic skin type – a very rare combination)
Basic advice on how to reduce excess Vata: • Warm, slightly spicy food and warm liquids to fight the coldness of Vata. • Heavy food to interact with Vata's inherent lightness. • Oily and salty food and a lot of water to bring to and keep moisture in all tissues. • Slow yourself down to reduce the mobile quality of Vata. • Apply oily creams to reduce the rough and dry qualities that show in the Vata skin.
Basic advice on how to reduce excess Pitta: • Food and liquids should not be too hot, to cool down hot Pitta attributes. • Heavy food to interact the Pitta's inherent lightness. • Less spicy and sour foods to counteract the hotness (or heat?) of Pitta energy. • Warm (not hot) showers to cool down the body and mind. • Slow yourself down to prevent experiencing the burnout that is intrinsic for Pitta people. • Moisturizers should not be very oily. • Use rose water as a toner, as it has a cooling nature, helps with sensitivity and cools down the skin. • Special herbal supplements, which help clean the liver and blood, the main origin sites for skin problems.
Basic advice on how to reduce excess Kapha: • Warm food and liquids to reduce Katha’s inherent coldness of tissues. • Light and astringent food to reduce the heaviness of Kapha and detoxify tissues. • Less salty foods to reduce the water component in Kapha bodies. • Get up from your coach, exercise vigorously, and be more active to reduce Kapha's sluggishness. • Reduce oils in your food and on your face.
These are very basic advice. All of us have all three energies (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) in our bodies, and they are moving constantly, following the change of seasons, age, climate, level of stress, etc. Most of us have two dominant energies, and because these energies often have opposite properties, it is not easy to achieve/maintain the balance. For example, a person has 50% of Vata, 35% of Pitta, 15% of Kapha. Her body then has Vata-Pitta type, and her skin is dry and slightly sensitive. Vata and Pitta have opposite qualities of coldness and heat, and because of that, it is a little bit tricky to work with those energies.
By understanding which of the energies are out of balance and what properties can bring the balance back to the body, mind, and skin, we can help ourselves to be healthy and have beautiful skin.
In my next post, I will talk in more detail about Vata, Pitta, and Kapha skin imbalances and foods that are helpful for bringing balance back to the skin and body.