New Year, New You
Ayurvedic Tips to Welcome the Fresh, Healthy New Year
A new year symbolizes a fresh start, so we are often inspired to make improvements in our lives. While I have yet to hear anyone say directly “I will become more beautiful” as their goal for the new year, the most popular resolutions are targeted to do exactly that. Every year the most popular resolutions are about increasing health and fitness - habits that create the foundations of beauty. The top five health-related resolutions are: Exercise regularly; Eat healthier; Stop smoking; Reduce daily stress; Create better work/life balance
Sticking to any one of these resolutions will show improvements in our overall health and, in turn, our complexions. If we combine all five together, they make a powerful transformation. With knowledge of Ayurveda, our face is not merely a benefactor of all this effort but can act as a monitor of our progress as well, giving us more incentive to keep our resolutions.
Ayurveda in a nutshell is the 3 energies (Doshas): Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Those of us with abundant Vata Dosha are spiritual types that tend to be slim and fast- paced. Pittas are rational types who tend to be competitive and commanding. Kaphas are conservative types that love routine and tradition. Therefore, each of the above resolutions means different choices with different outcomes for each Dosha type.
Exercise: Exercising regularly will improve circulation and muscle tone, evidenced in a brighter complexion. Better circulation is the best kept secret to a beautiful complexion. To ensure success in keeping this resolution means understanding what type of exercise is best for you. Exercise which promotes harmony while engaging the spirit like Yoga and Tai chi will be more welcomed by a Vata, while a competitive game of golf would suit a Pitta more. Morning aerobics is a great way to energize a Kapha’s day.
Diet: Diet makes a big difference in our skin’s appearance. But “eating healthier” has different meanings for each Dosha. For Vatas, a diet high in meat will challenge the kidneys indicated by dry skin and puffiness. Best foods for Vatas are moist and warm and focusing on nourishment rather than calories. For Pittas, a fatty diet that challenges the liver results in inflamed cheeks. Therefore, a raw food diet and vegetarianism is ideal. For Kaphas, sugar and dairy can cause constipation leading to cystic acne along the jaw line. With a tendency to gain weight, Kaphas should eat light, warm foods and avoid sweet and oily foods. Calorie counting is encouraged.
Stop Smoking: For each person, regardless of their primary Dosha, smoking will have negative consequences on health. Vata’s delicate physical nature means they are the first to show the effects of smoking on the skin. Kapha, due to their strength in the physical, will show the detrimental effects later. Smoking aggravates Pitta and causes/worsens symptoms such as hyperacidity, inflammations, and skin irritations.
Reducing Stress: Stress dehydrates skin. But like smoking, stress can affect Vatas faster and more significantly.
Creating better work/life balance: The foundation to a happy healthy life is balance. Work and personal relations challenge us to grow and change. The most profound beauty is based on our personal growth, and if we stick to our resolution to balance our work and personal lives, the above resolutions will be easier to achieve.
Jean Eng is a skincare specialist, Ayurvedic practitioner, and founder of Pure + simple, a Canadian spa chain and retailer of natural beauty products.