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Ayurvedic Self-Care Rituals for Natural Beauty

Each morning across India and beyond, people offer prayers to the resplendent, full-breasted goddess Lakshmi. Adorned in a rich red silk sari with copious golden ornaments and a full head of gleaming, long dark hair, Lakshmi Devi’s luminous skin, full face, and deep magnetic eyes signal her irresistible enchantment. She is beauty.

All of Lakshmi’s radiance arises from a dynamic relationship between the inner and outer Divine. She attracts positive energy, and she radiates it, too. Two of Lakshmi’s four soft, plump hands hold gorgeous, fleshy pink lotuses—those rare, sacred flowers that grow through mud and water toward the sun to offer their lush splendor and heavenly scent. Her other hands dispense an endless stream of gold coins and blessings. Confident in ever-present abundance, Lakshmi has plenty to share—and she reminds us that wealth, beauty, and fertility are always available to us through life’s energetic bounty.

It’s only natural that we would wish to be as beautiful and blessed as Lakshmi. Such desire-far from being simple vanity-shows a positive self-regard, a knowledge that on some level, we too are creations of the Divine. And isn’t presenting our best self to the day-feeling healthy, spiritually full, and gorgeous-a lovely offering we can make to the world?

Of course, you needn’t actually look like Lakshmi. According to the wisdom of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of health and longevity and the sister science to yoga, true beauty is what naturally arises from simple acts of reverent self-care. When you undertake your daily health and hygiene routines with the knowledge that you are a precious, unique manifestation of life’s energy, you embody Lakshmi’s spirit.

These Ayurvedic self-care practices designed to support the healthy functioning of your skin, hair, eyes, and feet will kindle your radiance from head to toe. Moreover, each is an opportunity for you to care for your body as a sacred manifestation of life itself. When you honor yourself and your body in this way—no matter your age or genetic attributes or personal style-the vitality, grace, and generous luminosity of the goddess will shine forth through you.

Feet: Give Some Good Vibration to Your Foundation

We all know how good it feels to get our tootsies rubbed. But foot massage as a facial? Yes, says Melanie Sachs, an Ayurvedic lifestyle counselor and the author of Ayurvedic Beauty Care.

“Foot massage can relieve eye strain, relaxing and opening the face and allowing our beauty to shine through easily,” she says. Her words are backed up by the classical Ayurvedic text, the Ashtanga Hridaya, which identifies four major nerves in the feet that connect to the eyes.

Holding and massaging your feet with your own hands can help reintegrate the subtle energy pathways flowing between the upper and lower body. And well-massaged feet connect more completely with the earth when you stand or sit with your feet on the ground, giving your whole being a more stable and relaxed foundation. Plus, says Sachs, “Well-oiled feet are also more protected from cracking and peeling, reducing chances for fungal and bacterial infections.”

How to: First, create a foot soak that meets your current needs, using one of the following recipes:

To Cool Down: Fill a foot tub with cool water and mix in a tablespoon of honey and a handful each of dried lavender and fresh rose petals. You can also use lavender or rose essential oil. This will soothe the mind.

To Warm Up: Fill a foot tub with lukewarm water and add 1 teaspoon of ginger powder. This will invigorate the body and increase circulation.

To Relax and Rejuvenate: Fill a foot tub with very warm water and add 3 tablespoons per gallon of Epsom salt. This will reduce any swelling and alleviate fatigue.

First Soak: Submerge your feet, relax for 10 minutes, then remove your feet and pat them dry. Next, give yourself a foot massage, using sesame, olive, or coconut oil. Apply the oil generously throughout your massage.

Then Touch: Starting with your right foot, massage in circles around the ankle. With your left hand, squeeze down from the base of the calf muscle all the way to the heel bone, 3 times. Holding the heel, pull back on the ball of the foot, flexing and stretching several times. With small circular movements, massage the spaces between all the toes, pinching the webbing between finger and thumb. Glide your thumbs up and down the grooves between the tendons on top of the foot.

Now turn your foot over so the sole is facing you and hold it in both hands, with your thumbs just under the ball of the foot. Press your fingers into the top side of the foot, stretching the base of the toes apart. Then use your thumbs to “milk” each toe, sliding from the base over the tip of each toe several times.

Next, massage vigorously from heel to toe using the heel of your hand. Walk your thumbs along the outer edges of the foot, along the arch, and deeply into the edge of the heel. Use your knuckles to massage the arch to relieve back tension.

Hold your ankle with your right hand and the top of your foot with the left, rotating the foot clockwise, then counterclockwise. (“It’s a spinal twist for the foot!” says Sachs.)

Grasp your big toe and rotate it fully, as if you were drawing a large circle with the tip of the toe. Then rub the toe between the palms of your hands to ease neck pain and tension, and the base of your little toe to ease shoulder tension. Finally, using the flat palm of your left hand, massage the entire sole of your foot in a figure-8 pattern.

To finish, slap the sole of your foot a few times. Then press the palm of your hand to the center of the sole of your foot. Feeling the subtle energy at this marma (pressure point) encourages a healthy flow of apana vayu, the grounding, downward movement of vata, the Ayurvedic air principle. Repeat the entire sequence on the left foot.

Almost Done: Finally, rinse your feet with warm water, dry thoroughly, and slip them into clean cotton socks, which will allow your feet to feel protected, soft, comfortable, and responsive. Let a smile drift upward to your face.


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