Three pillars of Beauty According to AyurvedaDr. Surya Bhagwati
To a great extent, we are all obsessed with beauty. Unfortunately, modern beauty standards are so unrealistic and unattainable that most of us spend our lives feeling unattractive and disappointed with our appearances. Beauty in this conventional sense isn’t just superficial, but it’s also equated with specific racial and body types – light skin and a skinny or pear shaped figure. To those familiar with Ayurveda, these ideas are obviously ridiculous as every individual is unique. Your balance of doshas or prakriti determines your skin color and tone, as well as your body shape. Ayurveda has therefore always defined beauty in holistic terms, not creating beauty standards, but shining a light on clearly achievable goals. The essentials of beauty are best defined in some traditional Ayurvedic concepts that are described as the three pillars of beauty.
The Three Pillars of Beauty in Ayurveda
Although beauty is not the central theme of Ayurvedic literature, ancient Ayurvedic sources do help shed light on the subject. Beauty in Ayurveda is not viewed as an external trait and is instead a component of physical, mental, and spiritual health. These ideas are exemplified by the three pillars of beauty:
- Roopam – This refers to visible or external beauty, which manifests in healthy hair, skin, and a youthful radiant glow. This pillar of beauty, although concerned with external features, does not concern itself with skin color or body shape and so on.
- Gunam – This refers to one’s inner beauty, which can seem idealistic to most of us today. However, it’s not just inner beauty in a philosophical sense. Gunam is concerned with mental health and personality traits that define one’s character and shape other’s perceptions of who you are. It includes ideas or qualities such as grace, charm, wit, warmth, and innocence.
- Vayastyag – This pillar refers specifically to lasting or enduring beauty, irrespective of one’s age. While aging is natural and irreversible, vayastyag stresses the value of health and vitality that allows one to look and feel younger than they might actually be. This ability to live life to its fullest with a youthful passion and energy even at a ripe old age is regarded as the very definition of beauty.
So, how do you achieve or strive towards these three pillars of beauty? After all, external beauty, internal beauty, and lasting beauty are sought after by all of us and are not exactly unique concepts. However, they are reminders of what beauty really is and what it should not be. It helps to refocus on true beauty, rather than on superficial and shallow beauty ideals that are propagated through marketing and media companies today. In addition to reorienting our perception of beauty, the three pillars of beauty also highlight the importance of other Ayurvedic health concepts that have a direct bearing on the subject.
Ayurvedic Beauty Wisdom – Putting it into Practice
There’s no denying the strong philosophical and moral undertones of these pillars of beauty in Ayurveda. The implications of these concepts can seem vague to most of us however, especially if you are unfamiliar with various Ayurvedic concepts like prana, tejas, and ojas. To try and explain every Ayurvedic concept pertaining to beauty in a single article would simply confound most individuals however, and lead to information overload. To keep things simple, let’s move on to the practical applications of Ayurvedic beauty instead. While keeping your mind focused on the three pillars of beauty, try to make changes in your lifestyle based on the following recommendations.
Nourish Your Body
While your diet should be fine-tuned based on your individual prakriti and seasonal changes, as a general rule it is advisable to avoid or limit any intake of processed foods, instead sticking to whole food sources. Just make sure to keep your food palate varied to ensure that you get a mix of various essential nutrients including carbs, fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Adequate hydration is also important. Poor nutrition adversely impacts all three pillars of beauty.
Physical activity, whether through exercise or other activities, is essential for good health and wellbeing. Like nutrition, it affects every pillar beauty, since exercise offers both physical and mental health benefits. While yoga is most recommended, you can also take up light to moderate intensity exercise and other physical activities like walking and swimming.
Nourish Your Mind
Mental health is often overlooked, but is a fundamental requirement as described in the three pillars of beauty. To achieve this, you need adequate rest and relaxation through sleep, as well as meditation. So, in addition to maintaining a disciplined sleep schedule, you should take up practices like mindfulness meditation, pursue hobbies, and spend more time socializing with loved ones. Cut back on stress levels and other distractions that clutter your mind.
In addition to poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and high stress levels, there are other lifestyle choices that contribute heavily to the buildup of ama and impaired flow of prana as well as vitiated ojas and tejas. To reduce this toxicity, you should quit smoking and avoid excessive intake of alcohol. Cosmetic and personal care products that contain harsh chemical ingredients should also be avoided. Instead, use natural remedies and Ayurvedic skin care products that are free of toxins.
Despite our best efforts, skin and hair problems can still surface from time to time. In such situations, refrain from using cosmetic or pharmaceutical products unless absolutely necessary. Instead, try to rely on natural products and Ayurvedic medicines for skin conditions. Ayurveda has an underlying theme of harmony with nature, which also holds true in the context of beauty. So, in addition to following the recommendations above, it is important that you also adopt Ayurvedic seasonal and dinacharya guidelines to ensure that your optimal dosha balance is preserved and to strengthen ojas and the flow of prana in your body.
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