First, let's see why our skin tends to become rough, dry, and irritated during certain seasons and with age. According to Ayurveda, it happens due to the accumulation of Vata in the body. Vata predominates in the Fall and early Winter, and in people over the age of 50. When there is excess Vata, we are prone to dry skin, cracking joints, thinning dry hair, and brittle nails. Vata can also show up in the body earlier if you're really stressed, have a Vata disturbing diet or live in a Vata inducing climate (cold and dry). The secret to staying young is keeping Vata at bay.
Here are some Ayurvedic tips that will slow down Vata accumulation in the body and will help you stay young and keep your skin beautiful.
1. Don't Skip the Veggies - Stick to high-water content vegetables that are easier to digest, such as lettuce, carrot, cucumber, daikon radish (which is revered by Ayurvedic healers for its purifying properties), fennel, and tender asparagus tips. These vegetables are tridoshic: they are good for all types of skin. Combine at least 3 and enjoy with a simple olive oil-lemon juice dressing.
2. Eat Like a Bird - Both traditional and Ayurvedic medicine agree that adding seeds and nuts into your diet will improve the condition of your skin. Vata is drying by nature so all foods that have natural healthy fats in them will prevent this imbalance. Nuts and seeds are a perfect food -- they contain Omega-3s, healthy fats, and fiber to help a weakened Vata digestion. My favorite snack is GoRaw Sunflower Flax Snax. You can also try adding almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and other nuts to your oatmeal (or having them as your afternoon snack, when Vata naturally predominates).
3. Sip Some Tea - Vata is dry and cold by nature so your skin will stay younger looking longer, if your keep these two qualities at bay. Stay hydrated throughout the day and give preference to warm liquids, such as herbal tea. Making some spicy tea with fresh ginger and lemon will wake you up in the afternoon and keep your digestion healthy, which is important for glowing skin.
4. Pump It Up - Exercising is necessary in preventing cold Vata from accumulating. Modern doctors advise exercising to keep your muscles and joints healthy and toned, while helping you sweat out toxins. Exercise will also improve blood circulation, digestion, and give you a healthy blush! Choose the type of exercise that makes you feel good and gives you energy without exhausting you. Whether it is walking, jogging, dancing, yoga, or boxing -- you should enjoy it and have fun moving your body.
5. Breathe In and Release - High levels of emotional and mental stress is one of the major reasons why Vata gets aggravated (Not good!). It literally sucks out all the vital juices from your skin making it dehydrated. Meditation and breathing can be very effective stress busters that you might want to consider. To get started with yogic breathing, lie on your back or seat comfortably, place one palm on your belly, and another one on your chest. Start inhaling into your belly, letting it slightly rise, then keep inhaling into your ribs, expanding the ribcage up and out, letting the air completely fill up your lungs by inhaling all the way up into your chest. Mentally keep track of your breathing -- your belly, ribs, and chest. On your exhales, let the air move in the opposite order -- chest, ribs,and belly sinking in. Do this simple yet very effective breathing technique for 5-10 minutes when you need to calm down whether it is before an important meeting or right before you fall asleep.
6. Doze off with Sunset - Aggravated Vata often causes restlessness which can lead to insomnia (Not good for your skin!). Any skin care professional or Ayurvedie doctor will agree on the fact that getting at least seven hours of sleep is a good thing when it comes to having a healthy and glowing complexion. If you have trouble falling asleep, try a full yogic breathing described above or use this one before going to bed.
7. Take Skin Moisturizer to a New Level - Staying hydrated on the inside is important but you shouldn't forget about taking care of your skin from the outside, as well. Cleansing and moisturizing are the most crucial to keeping your skin healthy and young. An oil massage is the best remedy for dry skin. For the best absorption, anti-aging oil massages should be done at night. Apricot oil applied 2-3 times a week at night makes my skin feel very smooth and healthy. Once a week give yourself (or ask your partner to give you) a full body massage with oil. It stimulates healthy blood circulation, lymph drainage, reduces water retention, and keeps your romantic relationship exciting! Abhyanga, a full body oil massage, calms the mind, leaving you feeling grounded yet focused and alert, and balances emotions. Using natural organic oils is also a lot cheaper than chemical-loaded lotions found at a pharmacy. Try these Ayurvedic oils for your specific dosha: Kapha, Pitta, or Vata.
To find out which dosha type you are, you can check out my Ayurveda & Dosha Types for Beginners Guide.