Ayurvedic Massage: The Power of Touch for Radiant Skin

Although the Western concept of beauty is not the goal of Ayurveda, natural beauty cannot help but manifest itself through glowing skin when the body is in balance. Massage and the use of oils, essential oils, herbs, and pastes detoxify and rejuvenate the skin and are practiced at high end Ayurvedic spas. Treatments vary depending on the client’s dosha.

What is the Dosha?

According to Ayurvedic philosophy, people take form as a result of the three life-giving forces called doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each dosha is a combination of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether.

  • Vata: Air and ether. It manifests in the body and mind as dry, cold, and rough.
  • Pitta: Fire and water. It manifests as oily, hot, and acidic.
  • Kapha: Earth and water. It manifests as oily, cold, and heavy.

Most people have attributes of two doshas, with one being dominant. An Ayurvedic practitioner would give a thorough evaluation, but knowing the general characteristics of your dosha is the first step to creating internal and external harmony.

Nurturing the Skin According to Your Dosha

People with Vata energy are prone to dry skin, lips, hair, and feet. Their skin is sensitive to touch. Sesame, almond, or olive oils are good for this type. The essential oils wintergreen and cypress have a warming affect. Pittas tend to have inflammations and excess heat which can lead to itchiness and rash. Coconut and sunflower are good cooling oils, as are essential oils sandalwood, jasmine, rose, lavender, and lemongrass. Kaphas carry excess weight and retain water. They need less oil, but ones that are stimulating. Jojoba and essential oils sage, cedar, pine, myrrh, musk, and patchouli work well for this type. Essential oils are highly concentrated and powerful. Always consult your physician and use them with caution.

Pratima Raichur, author of Absolute Beauty and founding director of Tej Ayurvedic Skin Care Clinic in Manhattan offers a three step facial care routine:

First, cleanse the face with an organic cleanser. Next, massage a nourishing oil into damp skin. The following ingredients can be found at most health food stores. After mixing, store them in an amber glass bottle with a dropper. Massage with upwards and outwards strokes for one minute.

  • Vata: For dry skin, mix 1 oz sesame oil + 10 drops geranium essential oil + 5 drops each neroli and lemon oil. To use, mix 3 drops of oil and 6 drops of water in the palm of the hand.
  • Pitta: For sensitive skin, mix 1 oz almond oil + 10 drops each rose and sandalwood. Mix 2 to 3 drops of oil with 4 to 6 drops of water.
  • Kapha: For oily skin, mix 1 oz sunflower oil + 10 drops lavender oil + 5 drops each bergamot and clary sage. Mix 2 drops of oil + 4 drops water.

After the oil has been absorbed, apply an organic moisturizer to face and neck, but do not massage.

A Natural Facelift

To complete the facial care routine, or anytime you wish, massage these points on the face in a clockwise direction for 20 to 30 seconds. Use the middle fingers, unless indicated.

  • Center of chin
  • Both corners of mouth
  • Area between nose and upper lip
  • Outside corners of nose where nostrils flare
  • Cheekbones. Push up on underside of bone to massage.
  • Lower lids just above cheekbone. Press with ring finger.
  • Brows. Use thumbs to press upward on inside corner of eyebrow. Pinch each eyebrow from inside to outside corner. Repeat.
  • Temples
  • Between eyebrows
  • Crown. Use both hands to vibrate the scalp back and forth.
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