According to ayurveda, all the activities of mind and body are governed by three psychophysiological energies known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. When these three principles within us are in perfect balance, we enjoy good health. If one or more of these energies within us is aggravated or out of balance, disorders result.
Each of these principles is also associated with a season. Winter is the season when Vata rides higher than usual in most people”s physiologies. During these months, generally from mid-October to mid- February, the qualities associated with Vata-dry, rough, cool-are
increased in the physiology. Increased Vata can thus result in dry
flaky skin, chapped lips and dry, brittle hair. If you are already
prone to these imbalances, winter will generally see an aggravation
of the conditions.
Here are some ways to keep Vata dosha in balance and prevent Vata-
associated skin problems:
1. Avoid exposing skin to harsh winter elements such as
freezing temperatures and drying cold winds. Dress warmly, in
layers, and wear a hat, scarf and gloves when you go out in cold
weather. Wear a natural lip balm to protect your lips. A light layer
of ghee (clarified butter) can also work as natural lip protection.
2. Protect facial skin from both cold winds and drying air from
heaters with a rich natural moisturizer. Apply the moisturizer at
least twice a day, once after your cleansing routine in the morning
and again before you go to bed. Always apply moisturizer on clean
skin. Your hands can also benefit from the application of the
3. Three or four times a week, offer dry facial and body skin
additional lipid support with a replenishing oil. Choose a
nourishing base oil such as almond. Add six-eight drops of a Vata-
pacifying pure essential oil such as lavender or neroli to two
ounces of the base oil, and mix well. Apply to skin damp from the
bath or shower to seal in hydration. Test first to make sure you are
not sensitive to the essential oil you choose before you apply it on
a regular basis.
4. The pre-bath warm oil self-massage, called abhyanga, is a
must-do in winter. The massage not only keeps your skin silky-
smooth, it also tones the muscles, calms the nerves and aids
circulation. Pat excess oil off with a paper towel before you step
into the bath or shower. Use a nourishing oil such as almond or
sesame oil for the massage.
5. The skin on your feet tends to dry and crack more in winter.
Treat your feet to a relaxing soak at night, three times a week. A
quick foot bath can be made in a large, wide-mouthed bowl with warm
water, sea salts, Epsom salt and two or three drops of your favorite
aroma oil. After the soak, rub in an herbal lotion, some shea butter
or some almond oil on your feet. This ritual will not only keep your
feet looking good, it will also help you ease into sleep.
6. Do not bathe or shower in very hot water. Warm water is much
gentler on your skin. Do not bathe more than once a day if your skin
is very dry.
7. Do not use harsh soaps to cleanse, as they will strip your
skin of precious lipids. Use a non-soap cleanser or very mild soap
8. Give your skin lipid support from within by including soaked
and blanched almonds, soaked walnuts, whole milk, fresh cheese, and
ghee (clarified butter) in your diet. Drink a cup of warm milk laced
with 1/4 teaspoon ghee at bedtime for a daily boost of lipid support.
9. Eat fruits and vegetables high in water content at every
meal. Zucchini, lauki squash, tender asparagus, tender greens, and
carrots make excellent vegetable choices. Sweet juicy berries,
cooked apples and sweet grapes are good fruit choices. Drink lots of
warm water through the day.
10. Herbs such as Amla provide concentrated nourishment to the
deeper layers of the skin. Take Amla, widely available as a dietary
supplement, on a regular basis to replenish skin from within.
Remember that a holistic approach will yield the best results. Try
and incorporate as many of the above suggestions as you can to keep
Vata dosha in balance and your skin looking smooth, soft and
beautiful through the dry winter months.
Note: This material is educational, and is not intended to diagnose,
treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a medical concern,
please consult your physician.
Copyright AyurBalance, Inc. 2003
About the Author:
Shreelata Suresh is a yoga instructor and writer from the Bay Area.
She writes for various publications on yoga and ayurveda. For more
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