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What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that in simple English means the “Science of Life”. Ayurveda began in India about 4,000 years ago during the Bronze Age and is a holistic wellbeing programme that connects body, mind and spirit.
Ayurvedic medical students were taught from the ancient Vedas. Their training covered 8 disciplines: general medicine, paediatrics, psychiatry, eyes, ears, nose, and throat, surgery, toxicology, geriatrics, fertility. Today each of those areas, are taught separately. Ayurveda truly is whole-istic. On top of this, Ayurvedic looks at food and nutrition. Modern medical students only get about an hour on nutrition in their studies so you can understand why they have no idea about the energetic and healing possibilities of food, movement, yoga, massage, essential oils and meditation.
Typically, Ayurvedic treatment revolves around your diet – and because you have a dominant dosha, your food list is for life, not a few weeks. When you eat according to your type, you’ll feel more balanced in mood, weight and energy.
In this article I’ll give you some ideas of which essential oils to use in your life, according to your dosha.
As in TCM, there are five categories of energy – in other words, five elements – air, water, earth, fire, and ether. These energies connect what is outside (our physical body) to what is inside (our mind and spirit). And depending on how much of each element is present, you obtain an internal force called a dosha. These doshas govern your constitution and determine how to restore any imbalances. The whole aim is to return you to balance.
The three internal forces (doshas) are vata, pitta, and kapha.
I am a Vata. I’ve done numerous quizzes/tests over the years and I am still a Vata. Vata types tend to be creative, enthusiastic, and generous. Vata represents motion, so the circulation of blood, breath and food. Vatas tend to be thin and slender. The vata’s dominant element is wind, supported by ether. Of course as you move to menopause, Vata can become unbalanced.
An article I read said of Vata characters: ‘Vata type people love music and dance. They can relax well when listening to classical music, enjoy warm and gentle oil massages and can forget themselves and the world in the process. A cozy ambience and soft fabrics such as silk, silk-wool blend, and cotton on the skin provide for basic inner balance. The rooms they live in should radiate warmth and comfort. An easy chair or sofa with a soft fleece blanket helps them to relax quickly.’ Mmm yes I can identify with those tips. Massage with essential oils should be done frequently. The comfort of the treatment plus the nourihin oils plus the essential oils all help me feel awesome and cared for. (Ask your aromatherapist or me, Wendy at Glow Skincare to make you a blend, so that you can do some self massage at home. If you have a partner s/he will usually be delighted to do swapsie massage. I have yet to meet somebody who did not like a massage, even of their feet, scalp or tense shoulders. And as a massage therapist, I have yet to meet a person whose shoulders were not tense and tight. )
However too much talking will bring about an imbalance of vata. Bad news as don’t we like to yak about our favourite topics?? Vata sadly becomes dried out and cold when irritated, causing fear, stress, anxiety, digestive troubles like constipation, dry skin and sore throat, short attention span, insomnia and difficulty falling and staying asleep. Oh boy, read that list and you’ll see that it’s your Vata out of whack…
Rice cakes and crisps are too hard and dry for Vata types, so avoid them! (I know, we thought these would be good for us, but no) . Cook with butter or ghee. Add hemp, sesame, olive, sunflower and flax to your menu. Try not to get distracted while you are eating and instead create a calm, relaxed atmosphere for meal times so you can concentrate on your meal . I am taking some aloe vera juice on the advice of my acupuncturist (April 2021), and I’ve seen that this is helpful for Vata. There is already aloe in my night cream ( Heart of Eternity) and facial tonic (Drench) but I’m going to try some aloe juice before breakfast for the internal juicy goodness it brings to moistening Yin (That’s the Chinese theory.)
To re balance Vata, use foods and essential oils that are warm and sweet such as cinnamon, geranium, turmeric, fennel, dill, cumin, ashwagandha, clove and patchouli. Recommended skincare products for dry Vata skin are Jardin de Fleurs cleanser and Heart of Eternity or Ultra Radiance night cream. (btw Argan oil is Morocco’s version of olive oil, it’ uber indulgent and nourishing to parched Vata skin). The essential oils will help you restore calm and balance to your day.
Tip – Vatas are normally hectic, scurrying around, busy. Why not make your skincare ritual a time to slow down, do some mindful breathing, and say a prayer of gratitude or thankfulness for the beauty in your life. Deeply inhale the healing essential oils – let them work on your spirit.
One of my aromatherapy teachers, Jan Kusmerik says that: ‘How we feel reflects on our skin and we should be in no doubt about this. So if a smell makes us feel good we actually look more radiant. A depressed person has a sallow skin lacking radiance. So even at a supposedly superficial level the skin is affected by fragrance. That means too that even an artificial fragrance can do us good even though a molecule is too big to enter the body.’
So using real essential oils means that the tiny molecules actually enter your bloodstream, be it through your nose, or your skin – they work on body, mind and spirit. So make your skin care time a moment of precious self-care.
Pitta types are of average build and feel warmer, and tend to be ambitious, focused, and confident.
Pitta dosha represents transformation, including regulating body heat and transforming food into energy.
The main element is fire, however when imbalanced, they become overly critical & irritable with a low tolerance for annoyance. They fly off the handle and feel hot and thirsty. Acne, sunburn and eczema are common.
To rebalance they need cool and calming foods, exercises and essential oils like ylang ylang(especially from angry outbursts), clary sage(especially during menopause), and the white florals of jasmine and neroli. Lavender is a cool and dry, and works to calm down angry impulses. Recommended products are Harmony facial polish, Samba facial balm and Proposal in Paris. Be sure to add cucumber, coconut, coriander and fennel to your menu.
Kapha are typically solid in frame, either tall and strong or small and sturdy and tend to be patient, loyal, and affectionate. The kapha dosha represents our physical structure (cells, tissues, and organs) and works to keep them moistened. As you’d expect the main element then is Water.
When out of balance, kaphas become tired and lethargic, gaining weight by simply looking at food, feeling cold and finding it difficult to change. To rebalance they need warmth and lightening so here the citrus oils like orange and mandarin are excellent combined with ginger, clove and cinnamon. Sweet orange and mandarin restore joy as well as Calendula and cardamom. Recommended facial products are Drench facial tonic and Empress Elixir. Oh, the frankincense in Drench is known to balance Kapha.
When you use essential oils that restore harmony to your dosha, you may find your sleep improved, your digestion improved and your mood more even keeled. The oils work on all levels, your body, mind and spirit. Follow my dilution guide so that you don’t waste money or irritate burn your skin.
There’s an online quiz at ayurvedadosha.org if you would like to find out more about your dosha.
And to see food lists visit https://www.ayurveda.com/resources/food-and-nutrition/food-guidelines
Use the oils on this page in your shower, bath, skincare and as a room mist to help you cope. The products recommended contain full spectrum essential oils that work to restore harmony to your skin and mind.
Hope this has been helpful to you. I used to suffer from dreadful acne, and since switching to natural options my skin has been brilliant. I share more wellness tips for hair, skin, nails and body in my FREE newsletter . While you don’t have to buy anything, though if you live in the UK, Northern America , Australia or Europe, I would be delighted to welcome you into the Glow family and help you feel more confident and comfortable in your own skin.