Ayurveda: How an Ancient Healing System and Modern Esthetics Come Together at Total Glow
Published: October 28, 2020
One thing that makes the experience at Total Glow so unique, is the blend of multiple Wellness practices and clinical methods to create the most effective treatments possible. The Total Glow approach is taken from my own cultural heritage, decades of clinical experience, and appreciation of education which integrates Eastern and Western medicine and cultures. I provide each staff member with continual, in depth training including Ayurvedic traditions and Eastern practices from the point of view that effective treatments include the Provider as well as the patient or client.
Ayurveda brings a conscious approach to all interactions whether inadvertent or deliberate. First contact whether virtually or in person is part of the treatment we provide. Rather than only utilizing my own research and lifestyle, I became certified in Ayurvedic health so I could bring more education which helps guide our holistic approach to wellness at Total Glow.
Being a licensed esthetician with extensive medical certification and licensed Ayurvedic Health specialist is not a common combination, but the two practices compliment each other so well. Approaching skincare through these two lenses is extremely beneficial to clients and patients. When I was in my Ayurvedic program, I was surprised I was the only esthetician given the need for a holistic approach to skin health and overall wellness. True skin health goes further than the surface.
In recent years Ayurveda is capturing the attention of medical providers as well as the general population proving to be more than a trend. Since it is still a practice unfamiliar to many, I’ll start with the basics. Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems and predates Chinese medicine which is greatly influenced by Ayurveda practices. It was founded in India more than 5,000 years ago. It focuses on promoting good health by preventative care and treatments which address not just the physical body, but the balance between the mind, body, and spirit.
One of Ayurveda’s countless benefits is that the practice helps promote a better understanding of ourselves and, to some extent, others. It focuses on overall wellness of a person that takes into consideration the uniqueness of the individual and a holistic approach to health, rather than approaching individual problems piecemeal on their own and without context.
In Ayurveda, this uniqueness begins with our body composition which is determined at birth. Body composition or the combination of earth’s five elements is an individual’s Dosha. There are three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha; and these doshas make up an individual in different combinations, with some elements being more dominant than others. Knowing one’s Dosha is necessary in order to determine the imbalance. Often online quizzes erroneously type an individual’s Dosha based upon their imbalance. In other words, a Vata can become overweight and think they are a Kapha imbalance, or a Kapha can become irritable and have inflammation issues because of a Pitta imbalance, etc. A real analysis done by a professional helps provide insight from why a new wellness plan isn’t working, why the skin is experiencing certain problems, to why a person is out of sorts in general.
Here’s a quick and very simplified breakdown of the Doshas, the elements that they are comprised of, and what they can mean for an individual’s health and skin:
Vata is the space and air dosha. These individuals are light and airy in their personality and in their appearance, being naturally more thin than other doshas. They can be petite or tall and tend to operate on a more erratic schedule compared to others and can be naturally creative. Vata dominant individuals might have difficulty building muscle because of their naturally thin and airy body composition. Space and air are also the driest elements, so lacking water in composition, Vata brings dryness of the skin and rarely have acne issues but may notice signs of aging sooner than their peers.
Pitta is made up of fire and water. Individuals with a dominant Pitta Dosha are often very ambitious, intense and focused with many athletes, scientists and attorneys falling into this category. When it comes to health and skincare, the fire of Pittas make them more prone to inflammation, acne, rosacea, and sensitive skin in general.
Kapha is the earth and water dosha. As these are the heaviest elements, a Kapha’s healthy body weight is often naturally higher than that of a Pitta or Vata. Individuals with this dominant Dosha are generally very grounded, calm, and nurturing. For the skin, being Kapha dominant can mean having thicker, more oily skin prone to congestion, but not necessarily breakouts or inflammation or aging concerns until much later in life when the damage has already surfaced.
It’s important to remember that individuals are usually a combination and no one Dosha is inherently better or worse than others, rather, Ayurveda helps us to embrace ourselves for who we are and work with our bodies. I, myself am a combination of Pitta and Kapha so I know that I have the tendency to be very intense but I am also a very nurturing person, which helps me to run my business and care for my clients. Ayurveda has helped me to better understand myself and notice any potential imbalances in my doshas to address.
I find that a lot of the ideas of Western diet culture, for example, can encourage people to fight their natural tendencies which can lead to imbalance and be really damaging to individuals of any dosha. If a Kapha dominant person wants to lose weight, a blanket calorie reduction or a very restrictive diet is easier for Kapha, but fighting their natural body weight is going to throw them off-balance. I’ve seen Kaphas become too thin in an attempt to fit an ideal which works for Vata, which results in their skin showing this imbalance and looking unhealthy and drawn. Alternatively, I’ve seen Vata dominant individuals go on weight loss diets, do extreme cleanses or decide to eat “healthy” and consume more raw foods or other trendy diets that exacerbate the dryness of their skin and more importantly, creates an imbalance that affects their overall wellness.
I always find that a person is their most beautiful and healthy looking when they work with their bodies rather than against them. When a new client comes into Total Glow, if there are significant concerns, I’ll be brought in to assess their dominant dosha and let that guide our approach to achieving their goals, whatever they may be. For a true Dosha analysis, I will do a one on one consultation specifically to determine the body constitution and the imbalance. It’s fun for our clients to learn more about themselves and it’s a very effective way to correct imbalances which impact our lives while assessing skincare solutions. It also helps put skincare concerns in the context of the whole body, which is our mission.
Understanding of one’s dominant doshas also helps when we’re discussing changing a skincare routine, a nutrition plan, or adjusting wellness plans for changing seasons. In Ayurveda, the change of seasons is a huge shift, and can help us understand how to better adjust to changes like drier and colder air, or warmer temperatures. Since it’s such a large topic with Ayurveda, I’ll discuss this in more detail in a future blog.
I often find, when we talk about the skin we forget that it’s a part of a larger system, and problems surfacing on the skin are often indicative of other issues. We can’t fix surface issues on the skin without thinking about overall wellbeing and factors like diet, stress, and lifestyle. Ayurveda helps with all of this, looking at an individual with a wide lens and providing insight into who a person is and what healing practices might work best for them.