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The Maharishi Ayurveda Approach to Beauty and Skin Care with Nancy Lonsdorf M.D.


"Every person is born perfect. Inferiority is a mistake of the mind, a cloud covering the light. Dissolve the clouds by observing a balanced life with healthy habits. Nourish your mind and body. Connect with your own inner self. Celebrate your own magnificence and your beauty will always shine through." -Dr. Rama Kant Mishra, renowned Ayurvedic physician and dermatologist

The Three Pillars of Beauty

Maharishi Ayurveda (MAV), the modern, consciousness-based revival of the ancient Ayurvedic medicine tradition, considers true beauty to be supported by three pillars; Outer Beauty, Inner Beauty and Lasting Beauty. Only by enhancing all three can we attain the balanced state of radiant health that makes each of us the most fulfilled and beautiful person we can be.

Outer Beauty: Roopam

The outer signs of beauty - your skin, hair and nails - are more than just superficial measures of beauty. They are direct reflections of your overall health. These outer tissues are created by the inner physiological processes involved in digestion, metabolism and proper tissue development. Outer beauty depends more on the strength of your digestion and metabolism, the quality of your diet, and the purity of your blood, than on external cleansers and conditioners you may apply.

General Recommendations for Outer Beauty

As we will discuss, the key to skin care is matching your diet and skin care routine to the specific skin type you have. Meanwhile, there are some valuable recommendations for lustrous skin, hair and nails that will be helpful to everyone, regardless of skin type.

1. Diet: Without adequate nourishment, your collagen layer thins and a kind of wasting takes place. Over time, your skin can shrivel up like a plant without water from lack of nourishment. To keep your skin plump and glowing:

A. Eat fresh, whole organic foods that are freshly prepared.

Avoid packaged, canned, frozen, processed foods and leftovers. These foods have little nutritional value and also they are often poorly digested which creates impurities that localize in the skin. The resulting buildup of toxins causes irritation and blocks circulation depriving the skin of further nourishment and natural cleansing processes.

B. Favor skin nourishing foods.

  • Leafy green vegetables contain vitamins, minerals (especially iron and calcium) and are high in antioxidant properties. They nourish the skin and protect it from premature aging.

  • Sweet juicy fruits like grapes, melons, pears, plums and stewed apples at breakfast are excellent for the skin in almost everyone.

  • Eat a wide variety of grains over different meals and try mixed grain servings at breakfast and lunch. Add amaranth, quinoa, cous cous, millet and barley to the wheat and rice you already eat.

  • Favor light, easy to digest proteins like legume soups (especially yellow split mung dhal), whole milk, paneer (cheese made from boiling milk, adding lemon and straining solids) and lassi (diluted yogurt and spice drinks).

  • Oils like ghee (clarified butter) and organic, extra virgin olive oil should be included in the diet as they lubricate, nourish and create lustre in the skin.

  • Use spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, and black pepper to improve digestion, nourish the skin and cleanse it of impurities.

  • Avoid microwaving and boiling your vegetables. They lose as much as 85% of their antioxidant content when cooked in this way. Steaming and sautéing are best.

    Caring for outer beauty through knowledge of skin type

    Besides these general recommendations the key to Outer Beauty is to understand the difference in skin types so you can gain the maximum benefit from your individualized skin care regimen. MAV identifies three different skin types based on which of the three main metabolic principles (doshas)- present in everyone, but to different degrees- is most dominant in your body.

    Vata Skin

    * Description: Vata is composed of the elements of air and space. If you have a vata skin type, your skin will be dry, thin, fine pored, delicate and cool to the touch. When balanced, it glows with a delicate lightness and refinement that is elegant and attractive. When vata skin is imbalanced, it will be prone to excessive dryness and may even be rough and flaky.

    * Potential problems: The greatest beauty challenge for vata skin is its predisposition to symptoms of early aging. Your skin may tend to develop wrinkles earlier than most due to its tendency to dryness and thinness. If your digestion is not in balance, your skin can begin to look dull and grayish, even in your 20's and 30's. In addition, your skin may have a tendency for disorders such as dry eczema and skin fungus. Mental stress, such as worry, fear and lack of sleep, has a powerful debilitating effect on vata skin leaving it looking tired and lifeless.

    * Recommendations for care

    With a little knowledge, you can preserve and protect the delicate beauty of your vata type skin. Since your skin does not contain much moisture, preventing it from drying is the major consideration. Eat a warm, unctuous diet (ghee and olive oil are best) and favor sour, salty and sweet tastes (naturally sweet like fruits, not refined sugar) as they balance vata. Avoid drying foods like crackers. Drink 6-8 glasses of warm (not cold for vata types!) water throughout the day and eat plenty of sweet, juicy fruits. Going to bed early (before 10 PM) is very soothing to vata and will have a tremendously positive influence on your skin. Avoid cleansing products that dry the skin (like alcohol-based cleansers) and perform Ayurvedic oil massage to your whole body (abhyanga) in the morning before you shower.

    Pitta Skin.

    * Description: Pitta dosha is composed of the elements of fire and water. If you have a pitta skin type your skin is fair, soft, warm and of medium thickness. When balanced, your skin has a beautiful, slightly rosy or golden glow, as if illuminated from within. Your hair typically is fine and straight, and is usually red, sandy or blonde in color. Your complexion tends toward the pink or reddish, and there is often a copious amount of freckles or moles.

    * Potential problems: Among the many beauty challenges of pitta skin types is your tendency to develop rashes, rosacea, acne, liver spots or pigment disorders. Because of the large proportion of the fire element in your constitution, your skin does not tolerate heat or sun very well. Of all the three skin types, pitta skin has the least tolerance for the sun, is photosensitive, and most likely to accumulate sun damage over the years. Pitta skin is aggravated by emotional stress, especially suppressed anger, frustration, or resentment.

    * Recommendations for care

    Avoid excessive sunlight, tanning treatments and highly heating therapies like facial or whole body steams. Avoid hot, spicy foods and favor astringent, bitter and sweet foods which balance pitta. (Again, naturally sweet, not chocolate and refined sugar!) Sweet juicy fruits (especially melons and pears), cooked greens and rose petal preserves are especially good. Drinking plenty of water helps wash impurities from sensitive pitta skin. Reduce external or internal contact with synthetic chemicals, to which your skin is especially prone to react, even in a delayed fashion after years of seemingly uneventful use. Avoid skin products that are abrasive, heating or contain artificial colors or preservatives. Most commercial make-up brands should be avoided in favor of strictly 100% natural ingredient cosmetics. And be sure to get your emotional stress under control through plenty of outdoor exercise, yoga and meditation.

    Kapha Skin.

    * Description: Kapha dosha is composed of the elements of earth and water. If you have a kapha skin type your skin is thick, oily, soft and cool to the touch. Your complexion is a glowing porcelain whitish color, like the moon, and hair characteristically thick, wavy, oily and dark. Kapha skin types, with their more generous collagen and connective tissue, are fortunate to develop wrinkles much later in life than vata or pitta types.

    *Potential problems If your skin becomes imbalanced, it can show up as enlarged pores, excessively oily skin, moist types of eczema, blackheads, acne or pimples, and water retention. Kapha skin is also more prone to fungal infections.

    * Recommendations for care

    Kapha skin is more prone to clogging and needs more cleansing than other skin types. Be careful to avoid greasy, clogging creams. Likewise, avoid heavy, hard to digest foods like fried foods, fatty meats, cheeses and rich desserts. Eat more light, easy to digest, astringent, bitter and pungent (well-spiced) foods as they balance kapha. Olive oil is the best cooking oil and a little ginger and lime juice can be taken before meals to increase your characteristically sluggish digestive fire. Take warm baths often and use gentle cleansers to open the skin pores. Avoid getting constipated and try to get some exercise every day to increase circulation and help purify the skin through the sweating process.

    Inner Beauty: Gunam.

    Happy, positive, loving, caring individuals have a special beauty that is far more than skin deep. Conversely we all experience the quick and deleterious effect on our skin from fatigue and stress.

    Inner beauty is authentic beauty, not the kind that shows on a made-up face, but the kind that shines through from your soul, your consciousness or inner state of being. Inner beauty comes from a mind and heart that are in harmony, not at odds with each other, causing emotional confusion, loss of confidence, stress and worry. Inner peace is the foundation of outer beauty.

    Maintain your self-confidence and a warm, loving personality by paying attention to your lifestyle and daily routine and effective management of stress (I highly recommend the TM technique for its scientifically-verified benefits on mental and physical health and reduced aging.) You will also be healthier and feel better through the day if you eat your main meal at midday and make a habit of going to bed early (by 10 PM is ideal.)

    Remember, kindness, friendliness and sincerity naturally attract people to you. On the other hand, being uptight or tense makes people want to walk the other way, regardless of your facial structure, body weight, or other outer signs we associate with attractiveness.

    Lasting Beauty: Yayastyag

    In order to slow the aging process and gain lasting beauty there are two additional key considerations beyond those already discussed,

    1. Eliminate toxins and free radicals in the body: The main deteriorating effects of aging come as toxins and impurities (called ama in Ayurveda) accumulate throughout the body. These toxins may begin as free radicals in the body, or over time may become oxidized into free radicals, all of which contribute to premature aging in the body. For lasting health and beauty it is essential to avoid and neutralize free radicals, to prevent impurities of all kinds from accumulating and to remove those that have already become lodged in the body.

    The most powerful cleansing therapy in Maharishi Ayurveda is "panchakarma" therapy, a series of natural treatments ideally performed twice yearly, that involves 5-7 days in a row of massage, heat treatments and mild herbal enemas. Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of undergoing this cleansing program once or twice a year to prevent impurities from accumulating, localizing and hardening in the tissues. Just as we change the oil in our cars regularly for optimal performance and lifespan, Ayurveda recommends that we cleanse the "sludge" from our tissues on a regular basis through panchakarma treatments.

    Best of all, panchakarma treatments are luxurious, blissful, and make you feel (and look) completely rejuvenated in just a few days time. I have had many a patient who told me that friends asked them afterwards if they had gotten a facelift, they looked so fresh and youthful!

    Other free radical busters include: reducing mental stress, eating antioxidant foods like leafy green vegetables, sweet, juicy fruits and cooking on a daily basis with antioxidant, detoxifying spices like turmeric and coriander.

    2. Add rejuvenative techniques to daily living:

    The daily activities of life in the modern world systematically wear us down and speed up the aging process. Ayurveda maintains it is crucial to practice daily rejuvenative regimens to counteract the stressful wear and tear of everyday life. According to Ayurveda the most important rejuvenative routines for your life are:

  • Going to bed by 10:00 PM. This simple habit is one of the most powerful techniques for health and longevity, according to MAV.

  • Meditate daily. Any meditation that does not involve concentration (which has been shown to increase anxiety) can be very helpful. I highly recommend the twice-daily deep rest and enlivenment of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique, whose benefits have been verified by over 700 published research studies.

  • Eat organic, whole fresh food that is freshly prepared. There is an Ayurvedic saying: "Without proper diet. medicine is of no use. With proper diet, medicine is of no need." Be sure to avoid those leftovers, processed and microwaved foods for better nutrition and vitality.

  • Perform Ayurvedic oil massage in the morning (abhyanga). Morning oil massage purifies the entire body, reduces anxiety and stress, helps prevent and heal injuries and supports circulation. It is especially helpful in creating a radiant complexion and keeping your skin youthful. Research shows it may also help prevent skin cancers.

  • Practice yoga asanas. Maintaining flexibility and circulation is key to health.

  • Practice pranayama (yoga breathing) techniques. Pranayama enlivens the mind and body. Ideally practice the following sequence twice a day. Asanas, pranayama and meditation.

    Summary

    Everyone's unique beauty shines forth when they have radiant health and personal happiness. Beauty is a side effect of a balanced, fulfilled life. Supreme personal beauty is accessible to everyone who is willing to take more control of their health in their day-to-day life through time-tested principles of natural living.

    For most of us, beauty is not a gift but a choice. Every woman can be radiantly beautiful simply by beginning to lead a healthier life. You will be rewarded by the glowing effects you will see in your mirror each day and the powerful, bliss-producing effect your special beauty has on everyone in your life.

    About The Author

    Nancy Lonsdorf M.D. received her M.D. from Johns Hopkins and did her postgraduate training at Stanford. She has studied Ayurveda with some of the world's most renowned Ayurvedic physicians in India, Europe and the U.S. Dr. Lonsdorf has 17 years of clinical experience with Ayurveda and is currently the Medical Director of The Raj Ayurveda Health Center in Vedic City Iowa.

    Dr. Lonsdorf has authored two books on Ayurveda and women's health:

    A Woman's Best Medicine (Penguin/Putnam 1995 ; ISBN 0-87477-785-2) describing the Ayurvedic approach to the major issues in women's health

    A Woman's Best Medicine for Menopause (Contemporary/McGraw Hill 2002; ISBN 0-8092-9335-8) describing the Ayurvedic approach to menopause

    Doctor Lonsdorf's contact information is:
    Nancy Lonsdorf M.D.
    1734 Jasmine Avenue
    Vedic City, IA 52556
    641-472-8246
    web site url: http://www.ayurveda-ayurvedic.com/

    info@ayurveda-ayurvedic.com


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    Homemade red sauce, paired with dried pasta (store-bought or otherwise) makes a wonderful holiday gift. Add olive oil, a wedge or Parmesan, and a crusty loaf ...


    Recipe: Raspberry Chocolate Bars  Houston Chronicle

    Layers of flavors make up this thin, candylike cookie that you can cut into squares, rectangles or diamonds.


    Easy December Recipes - What to Make for Dinner Tonight in December 2018  Delish

    From Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup to Keto Meatballs these insanely delicious recipes are the perfect dinners to make this December. Here's what you ...


    What Are Prince William and Harry's Favorite Desserts? Dessert Recipes The Princes Love  The Cheat Sheet

    Queen Elizabeth II might eat close to the same thing every day, but the rest of her family are a bunch of foodies. And while Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle ...


    Design Recipes: How to use Pantone's 2019 Color of the Year in your home  Bristol Herald Courier

    Pantone's new Color of the Year is Living Coral. Orange? Not really. Living Coral is updated and *fresh*, not orange, not peach, but instead, according to the ...


    Recipe: Frosty Winter Bars  Houston Chronicle

    From Dorothy L. Hohlt. This rich no-bake bar offers a sweet, cakey experience with a pleasant cookie base and fluffy, nut-strewn frosting. BARS. 1 box graham ...


    Recipe for walnut encrusted salmon, courtesy of Raindancer Steakhouse (12/10/18)  WPTV.com

    Recipe for walnut encrusted salmon with *fresh* seasonal vegetables and sweet mashed potatoes courtesy of Raindancer Steakhouse. For each person.


    Recipe: Mega Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies  Houston Chronicle

    A marvelous mouthful of chocolate with a pleasing crunch made this intensely minty cookie a crowd pleaser among our tasters — including Houston Chronicle ...


    Three easy holiday cocktail recipes from home mixologists  Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

    Holiday Lemonade was the winner of a cocktail throwdown, and will be on the menu at The Reserve Wine Bar at I-Square this month.


    Recipe: Snowy Ginger Crinkles  Houston Chronicle

    An honest crinkle cookie with pleasing gingerbread flavor.


    6 cookie recipes made for holiday gifting and shipping  The Washington Post

    Now that online shopping is an everyday occurrence, receiving a package in the mail has lost a lot of its novelty. Razor blades. Socks. Diapers. Yawn. If your gift ...


    Recipe: Snowballs  Houston Chronicle

    Classic cookie flavors are coated in a blizzard of powdered sugar.


    10 Melt-in-your-mouth Hot Chocolate Recipes You Need to Try  Tucson Foodie

    These hot chocolate recipes (and add ons) will keep you cozy — fireplace or not — regardless of your relationship status.


    19 Instant Pot Breakfast Recipes That Make Mornings Instantly Better  Greatist

    If you're looking for better mornings, it's time to check out the best Instant Pot breakfast recipes so breakfast is on the table in minutes with minimal effort from you.


    North Fork pastry chefs share their holiday baking recipes  Northforker

    Save these recipes; you'll want them for next year, too.


    Recipe: Homemade multi-grain pancake mix is a great gift for a family with children of all ages  The Boston Globe

    Four flours in this pancake mix give it lots of texture and flavor. Scoop it into cellophane bags and add your own label with instructions for using the mix.


    This Throwback Video of Oprah Trying a Woman’s $1 Million Chicken Recipe Is Priceless  Oprah Mag

    In 2006, Oprah welcomed Anna Ginsberg on her show to make the baked chicken and spinach stuffing that won her a million dollars. Here, Oprah's priceless ...


    31 Vegan Recipes for a Perfectly Plant-Based December  LIVEKINDLY

    These vegan winter recipes, including a Christmas nut roast, are perfect for plant-based dinners for all festive December holidays.


    Beer cheese soup, ham and cheese dumplings: These Pa. Dutch recipes fill food historian's books  LancasterOnline

    Here is a small sampling of recipes from William Woys Weaver's 2013 book, “As American as Shoofly Pie: The Foodlore and Fakelore of Pennsylvania Dutch ...


    12 Delicious Soba Noodle Recipes  Care2.com

    Do you love noodles? If you haven't tried soba noodles, they're a nutritious, gluten-free noodle well worth adding to your noodle repertoire. Soba is a type of ...


    25 Days of Cookies: Cookie Monster's Me Double Chocolate cookie recipe  ABC News

    Welcome to GMA 25 Days of Cookies! For 25 days, we are featuring cookie recipes that are perfect for your holiday party, cookie swap or next family gathering.


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