Skin and Three Ayurvedic Energies
Skin and Three Ayurvedic Energies
Ayurveda, the traditional healing system of India, views the skin as an important organ in the body that reflects the overall health and balance of the individual. According to Ayurveda, healthy skin is a result of a balanced internal environment and proper care.
Our inner nature is known as our constitution or Prakruti. This unique balance of energy is determined at the moment of conception and is with us for the rest of our life. It determines what is in harmony with our nature and what will cause us to become out of balance, sick, and diseased.
Following the moment of conception, the human embryo and then the body is exposed to and altered by its environment, including food choices, lifestyle, the climate the person lives in, etc. This current state, and often an imbalance, is called Vikruti, the Sanskrit word meaning “after creation.”
Knowledge of our constitution is essential to developing optimal health. Our constitution determines how we react to various foods, colors, aromas, and general life habits. When we have an imbalance (Vikruti), our goal is to return to our unique natural balance (Prakruti).
The Three Doshas
In Ayurveda, the body is believed to be composed of five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether. These elements combine to form three fundamental energies or doshas called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, which govern all physical and mental processes in the body. A balance of these doshas leads to good health, while an imbalance can lead to disease.
The balance in each individual is different; hence, each individual has his or her own special set of challenges and gifts. For this reason, no two programs are identical, and each person’s path toward optimal health and beautiful skin is unique.
The Vata dosha is said to be made up of air and ether elements. This means that it has qualities that are similar to these elements. Vata is like the wind – it is light, cool, dry, and mobile. In the body, those people with a Vata nature experience more of these qualities. Their bodies tend to be light, their bones thin, and their skin and hair dry. They often move and speak quickly. When out of balance, they may lose weight, become constipated, and have weakness in their immune and nervous systems. Those with a Vata nature tend to be talkative, enthusiastic, creative, flexible, and energetic. Yet, when out of balance, they may also become easily confused and overwhelmed, have difficulty focusing or making decisions, and have trouble sleeping. This becomes more apparent when they are under stress. Emotions like worry, fear, and anxiety challenge them.
The typical Vata skin imbalances are very dry skin, very thin skin; many wrinkles, especially on the forehead; dry eczema, dry psoriasis; dull and even gray complexion; sagging eyelids due to thin skin, non-inflamed pimples, cracked lips, lack of skin tone, black circles under eyes.
In order to bring balance to Vata, treatment plans are designed to emphasize the opposing qualities of warmth, heaviness (nourishment), moistness, and stability.
The Pitta dosha is said to be made up of fire and water elements. Fire is more predominant; thus, Pitta tends to be hot, sharp and penetrating. The oily nature of Pitta is related to the secondary component of water. People with a Pitta nature reflect these qualities. They tend to feel warm and have somewhat oily skin, penetrating eyes, and sharp features. They tend to have moderate weight and good musculature. When out of balance, they tend toward diarrhea, infections, and weakness in the liver, spleen, and blood. These qualities are also reflected in the personality. Pitta people tend to be highly focused, competitive, capable, courageous, energetic, and clear communicators who get right to the point. They like to solve problems, and when under stress, they dig in their heels. However, they can also become overly intense and speak with a sharp tongue. They make great friends but frightened enemies. Emotionally, they are challenged by the heated emotions of anger, resentment, and jealousy.
The typical Pitta skin imbalances are acne, rashes, rosacea, burning eczema or psoriasis, milia, pigmentation, discoloration, broken capillaries, extreme sensitivity, and very allergic skin.
In order to bring balance to Pitta, programs are designed to emphasize the opposing qualities of coolness, heaviness (nourishment), and light dryness.
Within the Kapha dosha the water and earth elements are predominant. Like these elements, Kapha tends to be cool, moist, stable, and heavy. In the body, these qualities manifest as dense, heavy bones; lustrous, supple skin; low metabolism; and large, stocky frames. In addition, those with a Kapha nature tend to feel cool. When out of balance, Kapha individuals are prone to gaining weight and tend to have weaknesses in the lungs and sinuses, where there is an accumulation of mucous. The elements of water and earth are also manifested in the personality. The heavy, stable nature of Kapha is reflected in a steady personality that is not prone to quick fluctuations. Those with a Kapha nature handle stress very well, often not even noticing it exists. They don’t like change, are generally conservative, and would prefer to keep things as they are. Those with a Kapha nature are also comfort seekers. This relates to the soft, watery nature of Kapha. Too much comfort, however, can lead to a lack of motivation and a feeling of becoming stuck. When Kapha is out of balance, the heavy emotions of depression and lethargy result.
The typical Kapha skin imbalances are puffiness, large pores, pale skin color, a few though deep wrinkles, and undereye bags.
To bring balance to a Kapha nature, the opposing qualities of lightness, dryness, and warmth are recommended.
To maintain healthy skin, Ayurveda recommends a holistic approach that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, changing lifestyle habits according to the unique condition, and an appropriate skincare routine. In terms of skincare, Ayurveda recommends using natural and herbal products that are gentle and non-toxic.