Inner, Outer and Lasting Beauty – A workshop by Dr. Manisha Kshirsagar
Dr. Manisha Kshirsagar, BAMS, spoke at the 3rd Annual Sivananda Ayurveda Conference on the topic of everyone’s birthright: beauty. We all are beautiful, each in our own individual way – for as Dr. Kshirsagar explains, there are three aspects to beauty: inner beauty, outer beauty, and lasting beauty.
“Who doesn’t want to be beautiful? Everyone!” says Dr. Kshirsagar. “Some are blessed with outer beauty, and some are not. But we all are blessed with inner beauty. If we learn to embrace our inner qualities, even if we are not externally beautiful, we will be able to overshadow our outer appearance with our radiant inner beauty.” Following are additional excerpts from her workshop:
What is inner beauty? Ayurveda believes that the secret to true beauty lies within yourself; beauty comes from transforming all aspects of body and mind to the most auspicious level.
Real beauty is the pure consciousness that reflects in your physiology through your skin, senses, organs and cells. It is a reflection of pure inner qualities that are expressed outwardly such as kindness, compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, patience. Speak with kindness, and you will be beautiful! Speak unkindly, and your outer beauty is diminished.
Outer beauty involves all aspects of your physicality (hair, skin, nails, eyes, etc.) along with grace in movement and posture. It’s a reflection of overall health.
Skin is the barometer of an individual’s health. Ideal skin is soft, moist, smooth and lustrous. Skin is the body’s first defense against external elements. Day to day emotional stress, anger, irritation, frustration and suppressed grief can show up on your skin. In order for your skin to be healthy, you must keep your liver healthy; excess toxins affects liver function, your blood, and ultimately your skin.
In caring for your skin, it is important to know that whatever you put ON your skin goes INTO your body. Thus, choose carefully what you apply to your skin, and only use substances that you would eat. Yes, eat! Many (if not most) cosmetics on the market contain many chemicals which are not healthful, and even toxic. Ideally, make your own skin care products. Dr. Kshirsagar provides many natural skin care recipes in her newly released book, “Enchanting Beauty.” Food grade oils have been utilized in Ayurveda for thousands of years, and are an excellent alternative to lotions and creams.
As with everything in Ayurveda, there are individual differences. The three doshas (vata, pitta and kapha) have different skin tendencies.
Vata skin (air and space elements) tends to be dry, thin, fine pored, delicate and cool to the touch. When balanced, vata skin glows with a healthy, attractive luster. When imbalanced, vata skin becomes dry, rough, flaky and is prone to early wrinkles. If you have vata in your nature or in your state of imbalance, engage in vata-pacifying activities to help prevent skin issues later in life. This includes eating a warm, unctuous diet (ghee and olive oil are best) and favor sour, salty and sweet tastes (naturally sweet fruit, not refined sugar). Avoid dry, cold, rough foods. Drink 6-8 glasses of warm water daily, and eat plenty of sweet, juicy fruits. Cultivate regular, healthy sleep habits. Perform daily Ayurvedic oil massage (abhyanga) to your whole body with quality oil. And avoid cleansing products that dry the skin, such as alcohol-based cleansers. Instead, choose soothing, hydrating, nourishing, protecting products – with all natural ingredients – to calm sensitive vata skin and aid the healing process.
Pitta skin (fire and water elements) is fair, soft, warm, and of medium thickness. When balanced, pitta skin has a beautiful slightly rosy or golden glow. Pittas often have freckles or moles along with a tendency towards rashes, rosacea, acne, liver spots or pigmentation disorders. Emotional stress, especially anger or resentment, can worsen skin issues for pitta. For optimal skin, pitta types should protect themselves from the sun, choose hypoallergenic, all natural, gentle skin care products, and avoid hot, spicy, oily and fried foods. Instead, pitta should favor cooling foods such as mint, cilantro, coconut and greens.
Kapha skin (water and earth elements) tends to be thick, oily, soft, and cool to the touch. The complexion is a glowing porcelain whitish color, like the moon. Kapha has a generous amount of collagen and connective tissue, and because of this, Kapha types are fortunate to develop wrinkles much later in life compared to vata and pitta types. If imbalanced, kapha skin can have enlarged pores, excessively oily skin, moist eczema, blackheads, acne, pimples, puffiness, water retention, and can be prone to fungal infections. For optimal kapha-type skin, exercise regularly, eliminate regularly, exfoliate daily (by skin brushing, loofah, silk gloves, or powder self-massage), eat food that is well spiced and well cooked, and avoid heavy foods such as cheese, sugar and fatty meats.
It is important to note that sweat is one of the primary ways that the body releases waste. The use of anti-perspirants, especially those made with chemicals, can interfere with this process. You need to sweat, or you block the body’s ability to rid impurities! The use of anti-perspirants is considered to be a possible cause of breast cancer.
As Dr. Kshirsagar says, “Live simply. Use simple things. Don’t make it complicated; simple things have great healing capacity!”
Dr. Manisha Kshirsagar is the author of “Enchanting Beauty: Inner, Outer, and Lasting Beauty” and “Ayurveda: A Quick Reference Handbook.” She specializes in women’s and children’s health care as well as skin care and natural beauty treatments. She currently practices in Santa Cruz, California.
By Marisa Laursen, C.A.S., P.K.S., A.Y.T., Faculty at the California College of Ayurveda