The ancient art of healing

Writer Anjan Sachar explores how one of the oldest healing systems can holistically reduce stress

By Anjan Sachar  Image courtesy of Tom Craig (Trunk Archive)  Friday 17 April, 2020  Short read

A woman with her fingers pressed together.
MUMBAI — Uncertainty is the mood of the hour and, let’s be honest, it’s looking like it might stay that way for a few more weeks. There are many ways to tackle feelings of anxiety, but the Indian holistic healing system of Ayurveda has always emphasised your mind, body and spirit coming together, so that you feel positive on the whole. We spoke to two Ayurvedic experts about the best ways to keep your spirits high, inside and out, during lockdown. 

Stick to your beauty regime
‘We are creatures of habit, and routines help in keeping a sense of familiarity in challenging and uncertain times,’ says Kavita Khosa, an Ayurveda expert, founder of skincare and wellness brand Purearth and a member of Soho House Hong Kong. ‘Ayurveda lays great importance on Dinacharya, a consistent daily lifestyle.’ So, keep that morning and evening skincare routine going – it’ll give you something to look forward to every single day. ‘Taking time out for yourself is also imperative to feel good and stay positive,’ says Dr Sharad Kulkarni, Ayurvedic doctor and resident expert at Kama Ayurveda, one of India’s best homegrown beauty labels. ‘Self-care plays a very important role in dealing with negative emotions.’ To instantly brighten your skin and give it some TLC, ‘mix turmeric and gram flour [similar to chickpea flour] with lemon juice and apply it all over the face. When the mask has dried, wash it off.’ 

Get into yoga
Yoga needs you to be mindful and maintain complete focus on the routine while you’re doing it. This naturally helps you to take your mind off the external world and simply be in the moment. ‘Ayurveda and yoga are sister sciences and always go hand in hand,’ says Dr Kulkarni. ‘You can practise Vajrasana [the diamond pose], Sarvangasana [the shoulder stand] and Bhujangasana [the cobra pose] asanas each morning to alleviate stress, and Pranayama [breathing] exercises to reduce anxiety.’ Khosa recommends trying the Bhramari Pranayama [the Humming Bee breath] technique to effectively relieve anxiety, emotional suffering and stress. 

Tweak your diet
‘Ayurveda prescribes eating in accordance with Ritucharya or a seasonal diet,’ says Khosa. ‘Eat local, eat fresh and eat clean. Imported produce from countries on the other side of the globe isn’t seasonal or local, and fad diets aggravate or throw the balance of our body, mind and spirit out of whack. Consume immunity-building, antioxidant-rich foods – look for dark, deep and bright coloured foods that’ll help fight inflammation and reduce stress.’ Dr Kulkarni suggests adding black pepper, ginger, turmeric and cumin seeds wherever possible in your recipes, all of which have multiple benefits including aiding digestion and being anti-inflammatory. ‘Mix a pinch of turmeric powder with two to three crushed tulsi leaves [holy basil] and honey for respiratory wellness,’ he says.

Anjan Sachar is a beauty editor, founder of The Red Lipstick Club and writes for VOGUE India, VOGUE Arabia and VOGUE Australia

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