Ayurveda Guide: 5 Easy Ways to Incorporate It for Perfect Balance
What is Ayurveda?
“Ayurveda is simply the science of life,” explains Michelle Ranavat, founder of Ranavat Botanics, an Ayurvedic skincare line powered by traditional Indian ingredients. “It takes a holistic view on well-being and encourages you to look at your complete lifestyle.” Ayurveda considers all aspects of life—from diet, exercise, and sleep, to emotions and stress levels—treating an individual as a whole, rather than separate parts.
Ultimately, Ayurveda is rooted in the belief that wellness depends upon an elegant balance between mind, body, and spirit, in addition to our relationship with the external world. When these elements are out of balance, it can manifest as skin issues, digestive problems, anxiety, fatigue, and insomnia, among many other indicators. Ayurveda holds that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The holistic healing modality remains one of India’s traditional healthcare systems. Like Western medicine in the United States, it’s utilized as a valid form of medical care—India requires practitioners to receive institutionalized, state-recognized training before they can become licensed. (Currently, in the United States, there is no set standard when it comes to training and certification for Ayurveda.)
How does Ayurveda translate to modern living?
Ayurveda’s recent resurgence comes as no surprise to Shrankhla Holecek, founder of Ayurvedic skincare line UMA Oils. Shrankhla comes from a long line of Ayurvedic experts—her ancestors served as Ayurvedic physicians for Indian royalty, and planted the specialty crops used in her range today.
She attributes Ayurveda’s recent re-emergence to the stress of modern life and growing interest in holistic pathways to health.“People are worried about dependence and longevity, and are turning to some of the highly effective, completely natural alternatives that have withstood thousands of years of safe use, such as those recommended in Ayurveda,” Shrankhla says. “We’re more anxious, sleep-deprived, and fragmented than ever. The upside is that we are realizing it’s happening and are trying to address it.”
“With our fast-paced lives and constant stimulation, Ayurveda is more relevant now than ever before,” affirms Michelle. “Instead of focusing on [symptoms] like acne or dark circles, Ayurveda treats the root cause with lifestyle changes like sleep, exercise, and healthy eating—allowing us to keep these issues at bay for the long-term.”
Sabrina Parr—founder of Keeko, an oral care line inspired by the Ayurvedic practice of oil pulling and tongue scraping—was first introduced to Ayurveda during a 2012 yoga teacher training in Bali. She met with an Ayurvedic doctor that she hoped would help alleviate the digestive issues, fatigue, and bleeding gums she had dealt with for years.
When his recommendations did just that, Sabrina knew he was onto something. “The analysis of my body and changes to diet and lifestyle prescribed to me were so unlike anything that I was getting in Australia,” she recalls.
The doctor’s advice included oil pulling to help detoxify the mouth and body, a common Ayurvedic practice. “Ayurveda believes that over 30 diseases can be linked to poor oral health, so a healthy mouth is considered vitally important,” Sabrina explains. “Oil pulling also naturally whitens the teeth and freshens your breath.”
She adds that in Ayurveda, perfect health is defined as a balance between body, mind, spirit, and well-being.“Viewing your health through these principles, you will see that beauty is not just about the products you use—it’s about diet, sleep, exercise, and your overall way of life,” Sabrina says. “In other words, beauty really is more than just skin deep.”
5 easy ways to incorporate Ayurveda
- Oil Pulling: Oil pulling involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. We love Keeko’s Morning Mint Oil Sachets, which contain refreshing essential oils (coconut or sesame oil works, too!). Best done on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning after brushing your teeth, oil pulling is believed to support oral hygiene, detoxify the body, freshen breath, and whiten teeth. As you swish, the oil doubles in size as it draws saliva and impurities (once you start making it a regular part of your routine, you may notice the oil doesn’t build up as much). Don’t swallow! When the time is up, simply spit it into the trash (so it doesn’t harden and clog your drains) and rinse your mouth with warm salt water.
- Tongue Scraping: According to the Chopra Center, daily tongue scraping is an often-overlooked Ayurvedic practice, but offers many potential benefits. An ancient Ayurvedic text Charaka Samhita considers it an effective way to freshen breath, enhance taste, and remove unwanted bacteria and build-up. Use a tongue scraper made out of copper, like this one from Keeko, or stainless steel. Hold each end and scrape the surface of your tongue in long, gentle strokes, back to front, seven to fourteen times. If it’s your first time, you’ll see a white coating—just rinse and continue until your tongue feels clean.
- Yoga + Meditation: “Ayurveda believes in connecting the body to the mind,” says Supadra Geronimo, founder of Siam Seas—a skincare line that harnesses the power of Ayurveda, Thai medicine, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. “The health of our mind is central to our lives; what you think will drive your actions and feelings. The practice of healing one’s mind can create a beautiful, happy life.” Yoga and meditation are two Ayurvedic practices that can help cultivate this connection while strengthening mindfulness and stress resilience. “Even spending one to two minutes each morning thinking about what you are grateful for can start your day on a positive note,” says Michelle. Take a yoga class or try a guided meditation.
- Dry Brushing: Ayurvedic dry brushing, or garshana, is a traditional Ayurvedic massage practice that revitalizes the body and buffs away dull cells to reveal smooth skin. Believed to enhance detoxification through stimulating the lymphatic system, the ideal time to dry brush is in the morning prior to showering. Use a dry brush—we love goop’s—start at your feet, brushing upward toward the heart in gentle, short strokes. Use a clockwise direction on the stomach. Post-shower, apply your favorite body oil or moisturizer for maximum softness.
- Turmeric: Supadra and Shrankhla both suggest regularly incorporating turmeric into your diet. “The principle of Ayurveda is to prevent illness,” says Supadra. “Turmeric is a comforting and potent anti-inflammatory herb.” She uses it in soups, but the options are endless—try sprinkling the herb in veggie recipes and stir-frys, blending it into smoothies, or making your own golden milk lattes! If you’re pressed for time (or just crave convenience), try it in a premade blend: WelleCo’s Super Elixir Greens and The Beauty Chef’s Glow Inner Beauty Powder are both delicious options.
What’s the deal with doshas?
The foundation of Ayurveda revolves around five elements that form the building blocks of nature: earth, water, fire, air, and ether (space). These elements combine to form the three doshas—mind-body types, or energies—that define our unique individual constitutions as seen through our physical, mental, and emotional characteristics. The three doshas are vata (ether and air), pitta (fire and water), and kapha (earth and water). While everyone has all three, most people are typically dominant in one.
In Ayurveda it is believed that everyone has a unique proportion of all three doshas established at birth, though one is usually stronger than the others. This individual constitution, or prakruti, provides a guiding framework for optimizing health.
“Knowing your dosha can give you valuable cues into how to manage diet and lifestyle to thrive, as well as what to steer clear of to avoid imbalances that can lead to discomfort or disease,” says Shrankhla, noting that health and beauty are inextricably linked. “The three principles—vata, pitta, and kapha—govern all the functions of body and mind. Disease and bodily discomfort is considered a result of an imbalance in these principles.”
Supadra likens our dosha to a “footprint” of who we are. “Each one of us is born a unique individual. Knowing [your dosha] will help you create guidelines on how you can best take care of yourself. When your mind and body are in sync, your intuition will guide you towards healthier living.”
Knowing your dosha is a great place to start incorporating Ayurveda into your life, as it provides guidance regarding the best foods, activities, and habits that support balance—as well as what to look out for and avoid.
Says Sabrina: “Find your dosha, and you will find your personal Ayurvedic beauty treatment.”
While there are many free online quizzes that can help steer you in the right direction and provide helpful advice—the Chopra Center has one—only an Ayurvedic practitioner can expertly assess your dosha and individual needs. Ayurveda is nuanced, and even if you know your dominant dosha, you’ll get the most constructive insights from a professional. There’s not one diet or lifestyle that works perfectly for anyone, as we each contain a unique balance of doshas.
That said, many people find online quizzes useful to pinpoint their dosha and get general information. Just remember to take your results with a grain of salt.
Skincare advice by dosha
Shrankhla says that customizing your skincare routine to your dosha can be powerful in helping to magnify its impact. See her advice below:
“Vata skin tends to be dry, with a tendency for roughness. Cool to the touch, and often thin, this type of skin is especially likely to look flaky or excessively dry in times of stress. This skin type needs nurturing and protecting on account of its delicate nature. Cleanse carefully, while being mindful of over-drying or over-exfoliating. Rice or nut powders mixed with hydrating rose water, or even milk, can provide great natural alternatives to chemical-based exfoliants that can particularly aggravate vata skin.”
“Pitta skin is typically soft and oily with medium thickness. This type of skin is more prone to rashes, blemishes, and sores when experiencing an imbalance. Pitta skin tends to be sensitive and prone to redness, aggravation, and sun sensitivity. Applying aloe vera gel directly to the skin for five minutes two to three times a week, and washing it off with cold water, can help with the much-needed cooling pitta skin often requires.”
“Kapha skin is thick, oily, and cool to the touch. This skin type tends to show enlarged pores, blackheads, and water retention in times of imbalance. Cleansing and exfoliation are key to maintaining skin health. Try gently scrubbing the face with a mixture of sea salt and honey followed by an herbal steam therapy with mint leaves two to three times a week. This helps keep pores clear and balance excess oil.”
Shop our favorite Ayurvedic picks—from Ranavat, UMA Oils, Siam Seas, Keeko Oil, and more—to experience the power of this ancient wisdom for yourself.
“Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice used to detoxify the mouth and body,” explains Keeko founder Sabrina Parr. Swish these minty oil sachets for fresh breath and pearly whites.
Ayurveda recommends daily tongue scraping as an effective way to enhance taste and remove bacteria and build-up from the mouth. This copper one, made in India, gets the job done.
“We want to inspire people to connect their minds and bodies,” says founder Supadra Geronimo. Transform skincare into self-care with this indulgent cleanser, infused with Ayurvedic pulling oil.
Founder Shrankhla Holecek’s ancestors were Ayurvedic physicians for Indian royalty, and planted the specialty crops used in her range today. Case in point: this potent, do-it-all eye oil.
Michelle Ranavat emphasizes quality sourcing for her Ayurvedic skincare line. This mist is crafted entirely from organic jasmine grown in India—you can feel (and smell) the difference.