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A Unique Paradigm of Beauty

June, 2017

Beauty is often equated, in many cultures, with a "fair" complexion or a fashionably thin figure or the shape of the nose, .Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old healing system from India, has a unique perspective on beauty.

Holistic and all-encompassing, the ayurvedic definition of beauty reads thus — "Roopam, gunam, vayastyag, iti shubhanga karanam." According to ayurveda, there are three pillars of beauty. Roopam is outer beauty — personified by shining, healthy hair and a clear, radiant complexion. Gunam refers to inner beauty — the beauty that shines from within, characterized by a warm, pleasing personality and innocence of mind and heart. And vayastyag means lasting beauty — looking, and feeling, younger than your chronological age. Thus, ayurveda does not focus only on cosmetics to achieve the state of true beauty.

Roopam does not specify a type of figure or the color of the skin or the length or style of the hair. Outer beauty, according to ayurveda, is a reflection of good health — good digestion and healthy eating habits and lifestyle. The frame of the body is dependent on the type of structural components you were born with. Whether thin, medium or big, each type of body structure can be beautiful as long as good health exists.

You are what you eat. Ayurveda takes this notion very seriously. In fact, it goes a step further to say "You are what you digest." A radiant, clear complexion begins with proper nutrition, efficient digestion and assimilation of nutrients by the body, and regular elimination. It's all about diet. There are simple ayurvedic principles you can follow, even if you are a newcomer to the system.

  • Go to bed before 10 p.m. Staying up much beyond that can impact the quality of rest you get.
  • Start your day with a full-body massage with an herbal or aroma massage oil.
  • Drink a soothing cup of herbal tea before bed.  Don't take your work into your bedroom.
  • Focus on calming activities as bedtime draws near.
  • Take a relaxing warm bath a couple of hours before bed.
  • Slip a sachet of dried lavender under your pillow.
  • Eat a light meal at dinner, at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.

Stress management is critical. Again, a daily massage can help. Practice meditation, listen to uplifting music — anything you can do to balance the mind and emotions will be reflected in your appearance. Gunam — inner beauty — reflects the beauty of the mind and the soul. Serenity, a positive attitude, and purity of thought, word and action — all of these contribute to making you beautiful.

The Charaka Samhita, the principal ayurvedic text, recommends that you seek the company of the young at heart. Don't always focus on your biological age. Laughter, seeking new experiences, and the company of good friends can keep you looking, and feeling, beautiful, no matter what your biological age. With the dawn of a new millennium, let us go beyond the color of the skin or the height of the cheekbones to find beauty in every woman.

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