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Walking the Streets of San Francisco

The best way to really get to know any city is to walk its main thoroughfares, ramble down its side alleys, and immerse yourself in the day-to-day activities taking place on the streets its locals frequent. San Francisco is no exception. Plus, as an added bonus, the city’s numerous hills will make you more fit in the process.

Do It Yourself with a Self-Guided Tour

If you want to do it yourself, the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau offers printable PDF files of five favorite walking tours in San Francisco including Union Square, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Wharf. You can download these illustrated guides directly from their website, but you’ll need Adobe Acrobat Reader software to view the files. Another option is the Diverse City Destinations website, which offers a series of ten self-guided walking itineraries for tours such as “Jazz & Blues,” “Art to Architecture,” and “Soul of the City.”

If you’d rather use a “real” book as your guide to walking San Francisco, there are several good options. Walking San Francisco by Liz Gans (Falcon) guides you through 18 popular walks, including several in the scenic Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Lunchtime Walks in Downtown San Francisco by Gail Todd (Wilderness Press) shows you 33 short walks that offer a great way to see popular San Francisco areas by foot, even when you’re short on time. Stairway Walks in San Francisco by Adah Bakalinsky (Wilderness Press) offers detailed itineraries for 27 walks through San Francisco’s little-known stairways. These walks are a great way to get to know the “hidden” San Francisco and get a great workout at the same time.

Let a Guide Show You the Way

If you’re looking for a guided walking tour, San Francisco City Guides offers the best deal in town on guided San Francisco tours—they’re free. With over 30 different offerings, City Guides takes you to all the usual destinations such as Chinatown, Haight Ashbury, and North Beach as well as to other lesser known but equally intriguing areas of the city. Tours such as “Ghost Walk at City Hall,” “Bawdy & Naughty,” and “Gold Rush City,” reflect the city’s colorful past. City Guides is a non-profit organization sponsored by the San Francisco Public Library.

Another option is the Victorian Home Walk, takes you on a 2-1/2 hour tour past more than 200 Victorians and includes a visit inside a Queen Anne Victorian as well as a scenic cable car ride. Tour price is $20 per person.

The Chinese Cultural Center of San Francisco offers two docent-led walks of Chinatown. The Chinese Heritage Walk offers a guided cultural tour of Chinatown for $17 per person. The Chinese Culinary Walk emphasizes culinary Chinatown and includes a dim sum lunch for $40 per person.

Coffee lovers should appreciate Javawalk, a two-hour guided tour of San Francisco’s best coffeehouse culture at $20 per person. If the thought of all that java is making you hungry, check out the Wok Wiz tours. This tour company offers several tours including the Wok Wiz Daily Tour, the I Can’t Believe I Ate My Way Through Chinatown Tour, and the Ciao Chow – Chinatown and North Beach Tour. Prices vary based on tour.

Unique, Unusual, and Out of This World

Interested in visiting some of San Francisco’s most notorious haunted homes? The San Francisco Ghost Hunt just might be the ticket. This tour takes you on a three-hour visit of Pacific Height’s haunted past and includes an inside tour of one of the most famous “haunted mansions.” The tour price is $20 per person.

If San Francisco’s vampire lore intrigues you, give the Vampire Tour of San Francisco a try. Led by 127-year vampress Mina Harker, as portrayed by a local actress/playwright, the tour provides a guided visit of Nob Hill mixed with vampire fantasy. As legend has it, Mina was embraced by Count Dracula himself in 1897 and has lived in the tunnels under Nob Hill ever since. Played for entertainment value and popular with both locals and tourists, the tour costs $20 per mortal.

The Great Outdoors

If you’re interested in getting out of the city, check out the Sierra Club’s offerings. It offers hundreds of hikes and walks per year for all fitness levels, plus provides the opportunity to meet and mingle with the locals. A few of the scheduled hikes are in the city itself, like the city stairways hikes, but most take you to scenic locations outside the city such as Mt. Tamalpais or Pt. Reyes.

City Hikes arranges hikes of scenic San Francisco locations for groups of eight or more. Locations include Golden Gate Park, Presidio-Crissy Field, Fort Mason-Marina, Fort Funston-Ocean Beach. Occasionally, they also schedule public hikes for which individuals can sign up.

San Francisco is a great walker’s city, offering an eclectic mix of walking tour options. Whether you’re an urban aficionado, a nature lover, or a seeker of the unique and unusual, San Francisco will entertain you and keep you in shape at the same time.

Get on the Ball

Have you heard the term focus on the core? No, we’re not talking about the inside of a golf ball; we’re talking about the inner muscles that make up the abdominal region, hips, and lower back. Most people focus their attention on the muscles that are more visible and easy to train, such as biceps, pecs, and back. The most important muscles that act as our foundation, however, are often over looked. So what is core training, or better yet core stability, and how do you increase your core stability?

Core training is best done when the body is placed in an unstable environment. One way to accomplish an unstable environment is with the use of those big colorful balls, commonly known as Swiss balls, Resist-A-Balls, or stability balls. Once used as a tool for rehabilitation, they have now become a hot item for healthy individuals to use for core and stability training. Swiss balls can be used in a variety of settings; with bodyweight only, integrated with selectorized machines and free weights, or with free weight or tubing exercises.

We have all seen Swiss balls in fitness facilities, but the question many people ask is what makes Swiss ball training so great? How can sitting, rolling, moving, or performing an exercise on a ball be beneficial? Believe it or not, there are numerous benefits to Swiss ball training:

1 Improved Posture

It takes more energy to move your body when you have poor posture, not to mention an increase of stress to the joints and stabilizer muscles. An athlete is always searching for the edge over the competition and simply improving posture will help the body function more effectively and efficiently. Swiss ball training is an excellent form of posture training. Postural muscles have to work in the unstable environment, unlike supported exercises such as machine training.

2 Improved Balance and Stability

The human body moves in three planes or a combination of planes and for improved balance and stability, you need to perform exercises that allow you to train in these multiple planes. Traditional machine weight training takes the balance out of the picture and the machine actually becomes your stabilizer. Swiss ball training places you in an unstable environment, forcing you to utilize your neutralizer and stabilizer muscles to stay balanced in a given position or through a particular motion. The result is improved sports performance since you are able to apply more power and strength to any situation where you need to balance and stabilize your body on a hill or unstable position.

3 Improved Nervous System Activation

The benefit of improving your nervous system activation is that you are able to transform the strength you developed from your training program to real life situations, whether they are sport-related or everyday activities.

4 Strengthened Core and Extremities

Swiss ball exercises require constant activation of the core muscles, which translates to a more functional core as well as sculpted abdominal and back muscles. Using the Swiss ball with free weight exercises will help develop the extremities while training the core at the same time.

As you will quickly learn, you just don’t get on the Swiss ball and begin your exercises; there are several rules to follow in order to perform the exercises correctly and safely. Seeking the help of a qualified personal trainer experienced in stability training will be beneficial. For starters, using the Swiss balls is not just about getting on one and trying not to fall off—you must maintain proper positioning throughout the exercises. Tucking in the pelvis and pressing the belly button into the spine are some cues that you will need to focus on through the exercises.

In order to improve your athletic performance, balance, stability, and posture, you will need to train in an environment that places a demand on the core muscles. You will notice that after training on a Swiss ball, you will become more confident in your ability to move effectively and efficiently during both sports-related and everyday activities.

Swiss ball training is only one aspect of training in an unstable environment. The use of core boards, wobble boards, foam roller, and discs all play a vital role in improving your athletic performance and training in such a way that really translates to real life activities.

No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, keeping a balance in your training program is important. Components of fitness that should always be included are: muscle strength and endurance, cardiovascular, flexibility, stability and balance, and coordination. Athletes will need to incorporate speed and agility to the list. Looking at the all the components that you need to integrate, it seems as though there is not enough time in the day to complete it all in a training program. This is where the professional assistance of a personal trainer comes into play. A personal trainer will be able to set up your program customized to your needs, wants, and lifestyle so that you don’t spend hours in the gym. After all, we work out so that our life is more enjoyable. Once you start adding stability training into your program, you’ll quickly see how it will improve other activities in your life. No matter what your fitness level may be, anyone can utilize a Swiss ball due to the vast variety of exercises available, from beginner to advanced level.

Beantown’s Best

Forget that calorie-packed clam chowder. Forgo that lethal Boston cream pie. Boston’s newest culinary attractions serve up a healthy and light fare, using a myriad of vegetarian, organic and raw ingredients. From ethnic-vegetarian to raw foods delights, many restaurants now offer a healthful yet tasty alternative to diners.

Reviews of health-conscious restaurants are popping up in papers all over town, and loyal clients are proving that healthy eating isn’t just a passing phenomenon.

Go Vegetarian

Several Boston-area eateries boast vegetarian and vegan menus. Country Life, an unlimited vegetarian buffet in the heart of Boston’s Financial District, features a variety of menu items that change daily. 200 High Street, Boston, MA. 617-951-2534.

From veggie burgers to “tofu teriyaki” to vegetarian tacos and enchiladas, the buffet features several hot dishes and an extensive salad bar. Prefect for a quick lunch that’s bound to please everyone, Country Life is affordable at $7 for lunch and $8 for dinner. Also try their Sunday brunches, offering “tofu scrambles” and whole wheat waffles.

Veggie Planet in Harvard Square serves up vegetarian pizzas that delight herbivore clients everywhere. This cozy eatery has all types of pizza toppings, including curried sweet potatoes, grilled cheese and broccoli, and even a Thai-style creation featuring coconut rice, peanuts and tofu. The menu also includes soups, salads, “real meals on rice,” and desserts. The fare is reasonable—under $6 for lunch and around $10 for dinner. An added plus: Veggie Planet has live music on most nights. See healthy vegetarian recipes here.

Organic and Ethnic Options

For an all-natural treat, try the Organic Garden Restaurant and Juice Bar in Beverly, which sports a vegan menu; its dishes entirely made with raw organic products. Organic Garden’s selections include innovative falafel, scores of rich smoothies, and even lasagna and ravioli—made without the processed pasta, of course. Chef Robert Reid boasts a menu that’s free of wheat, dairy products, and unhealthy fats. Dishes run between $10-14, while appetizers go for $4-7 and desserts are $3-5. Smoothies and treats from the Juice Bar (a must-try!) cost between $4-5. The restaurant also offers an extensive organic catering menu. 294 Cabot Street, Beverly, MA. 978-922-0004.

Healthy eating has been extended to some of Boston’s ethnic restaurants as well. Several restaurants are experimenting with vegetarian dishes and lighter fare, adding new items to their menus in an effort to satisfy customers seeking a healthy meal. In addition, newly opened ethnic vegetarian/ethnic vegan eateries are becoming increasingly popular.

Buddha’s Delight in Chinatown serves up authentic Chinese and Vietnamese dishes—vegan style, without the use of animal byproducts. The meatless meals are made with innovative meat substitutes, and include such favorites as lo-mein made with tofu, wonton soup and several stir-fry dishes. Dinners run between $6-14 and the menu is extensive and convincing—it is sure to please even those who prefer traditional Chinese food. 3 Beach Street, Boston, MA. 617-451-2395.

Masalaa in Billerica is an Indian vegetarian restaurant, offering a variety of rice dishes and meatless entrees in a plethora of sauces, for just under $9. Masalaa carries a great deal of breads, rice cakes and Indian pancakes, as well as fresh juice and milk drinks. The restaurant prides itself on its dedication to preserving the individual culinary authenticity of the many states of India through the use of genuine Indian spices and flavors in a healthy environment. 786 Boston Road, Billerica, MA. 978-667-3443.

Healthy Escapes

And if a simple healthy dinner isn’t enough, why not try a whole weekend of health? The Shady Hollow Inn in South Dennis is a great place for cozy Cape Cod weekends, as well as vegetarian and vegan eating. The Inn offers healthy breakfasts, dinners and picnics, made with organic ingredients whenever possible. In addition to healthy food, the Shady Hollow Inn also provides plenty of opportunity for exercise, with kayaks and bicycles available for rent and scenic trails for walks and hikes. 370 Main Street, South Dennis, MA. 508-394-7474.

Fiending for a healthy eating excursion? There are various happenings dedicated to honoring the vegetarian lifestyle and healthy eating. The Boston Vegetarian Society sponsors an annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival, which boasts natural food exhibitions and cooking demonstrations, food tastings, and free consultations with nutritionists. The Festival is a wonderful day for exploring some of Beantown’s healthy eating options.

The Boston Vegetarian Society, which was founded to promote and educate about vegetarianism, also schedules a plethora of healthy-eating activities year round, including cooking classes, social dinners, and even discussions on raising vegetarian children. P.O. Box 38-1071, Cambridge, MA 02238-1071. 617-424-8846.

With a number of great restaurants offering vegetarian, organic, and raw choices, it is easier than ever to follow a healthful diet when dining out in Boston. So don’t get those too-rich baked beans opt for some bean curd instead!

Get Stressless

We’ve all felt it at some time or other—that huge knot that builds at the back of your neck, sucks up your shoulders, and drives pain to your brain. Stress! It’s everywhere, and it’s difficult to deal with. Our technological world has made us instantly available to others, and whether it’s the Internet, cell phones, or our own personal life, stress can eat us alive if we let it.

If you’re feeling stressed, there are some simple steps to take and some activities to try that can ease the pain in a fun or relaxing way:

  • Juggle. That’s right, juggle. The rhythmic slapping of the balls, clubs, or rings on the palms of the juggler has a soothing effect. The arms are in constant motion, which can produce a good aerobic workout (especially under the leg and behind the back moves!).  Mentally, your focus is on the activity itself, so it can temporarily take your mind off other problems—and of course, you are never finished. There is always another trick, another prop, another challenge to work towards (if you want it).  Laurie Young at Laughways teaches a seminar in juggling for Alzheimer’s patients, because in her words, “the use of play in maintaining healthy older brains is just [now] being medically recognized.”
  • Joke. Tell jokes. Have some fun. Pull a prank. Have a pajama day at work. Laughter is therapeutic. If you don’t believe me, check out an in-depth study done by Christine Puder, a hospital-based child life specialist. In her report, she identifies ways in which laughter heals physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Laughter really is the best medicine!
  • Gyrate. Dance therapy is alive and well. According to a report by the American Cancer society, “clinical reports suggest that dance therapy helps in developing body image; improving self-concept and self-esteem, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, decreasing isolation, chronic pain, and body tension, and increasing communication skills and feelings of well being.
  • Genuflect. Many people have suspicions of the positive effects of meditation and prayer, but there are scientific studies that back it. If you’re curious, you can find summaries of eleven such studies at Scientific Studies Proving the Power of Meditation and Prayer. For another look at prayer, check out the article GET A Faith Lift!
  • Journal. Writing about those stress-building events of your life actually reduces stress, in a few different ways. First, it takes it from inside you and moves it outside, onto paper. There, you can look at it, examine it, and deal with it, WITHOUT reaching for an antacid tablet. For an in-depth look, check out The Center for Journal Therapy.

So juggle, joke, gyrate, genuflect, and journal your way to a new stress-free you! Not only will you find relaxation, you’ll enjoy the process too!

But don’t try to do them all at once. If you happen to see someone kneeling by the side of the road, swinging back and forth, juggling with one hand, journaling with the other, and laughing out loud, I don’t suggest you try to do the same . . . GET into a new habit! GET Stressless!

The Ayurveda Approach to Beauty and Skin Care

“Every person is born perfect. Inferiority is a mistake of the mind, a cloud covering the light. Dissolve the clouds by observing a balanced life with healthy habits. Nourish your mind and body. Connect with your own inner self. Celebrate your own magnificence and your beauty will always shine through.”

—Dr. Rama Kant Mishra, renowned Ayurvedic physician and dermatologist

The Three Pillars of Beauty

Maharishi Ayurveda (MAV), the modern, consciousness-based revival of the ancient Ayurvedic medicine tradition, considers true beauty to be supported by three pillars; Outer Beauty, Inner Beauty, and Lasting Beauty. Only by enhancing all three can we attain the balanced state of radiant health that makes each of us the most fulfilled and beautiful person we can be.

Outer Beauty: Roopam

The outer signs of beauty—your skin, hair and nails—are more than just superficial measures of beauty. They are direct reflections of your overall health. These outer tissues are created by the inner physiological processes involved in digestion, metabolism and proper tissue development. Outer beauty depends more on the strength of your digestion and metabolism, the quality of your diet, and the purity of your blood, than on external cleansers and conditioners you may apply.

General Recommendations for Outer Beauty

As we will discuss, the key to skin care is matching your diet and skin care routine to the specific skin type you have. Meanwhile, there are some valuable recommendations for lustrous skin, hair and nails that will be helpful to everyone, regardless of skin type.

Without adequate nourishment, your collagen layer thins and a kind of wasting takes place. Over time, your skin can shrivel up like a plant without water from lack of nourishment. To keep your skin plump and glowing:

  • Eat fresh, whole organic foods that are freshly prepared.

Avoid packaged, canned, frozen, processed foods and leftovers. These foods have little nutritional value and also they are often poorly digested which creates impurities that localize in the skin. The resulting buildup of toxins causes irritation and blocks circulation depriving the skin of further nourishment and natural cleansing processes.

  • Favor skin nourishing foods:
    • Leafy green vegetables contain vitamins, minerals (especially iron and calcium) and are high in antioxidant properties. They nourish the skin and protect it from premature aging.
    • Sweet juicy fruits like grapes, melons, pears, plums and stewed apples at breakfast are excellent for the skin in almost everyone
    • Eat a wide variety of grains over different meals and try mixed grain servings at breakfast and lunch. Add amaranth, quinoa, couscous, millet and barley to the wheat and rice you already eat.
    • Favor light, easy to digest proteins like legume soups (especially yellow split mung dhal), whole milk, paneer (cheese made from boiling milk, adding lemon and straining solids) and lassi (diluted yogurt and spice drinks).
    • Oils like ghee (clarified butter) and organic, extra virgin olive oil should be included in the diet as they lubricate, nourish and create lustre in the skin.
    • Use spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, and black pepper to improve digestion, nourish the skin and cleanse it of impurities.
    • Avoid microwaving and boiling your vegetables. They lose as much as 85% of their antioxidant content when cooked in this way. Steaming and sautéing are best.

Caring for Outer Beauty Through Knowledge of Skin Type

Besides these general recommendations the key to Outer Beauty is to understand the difference in skin types so you can gain the maximum benefit from your individualized skin care regimen. MAV identifies three different skin types based on which of the three main metabolic principles (doshas)—present in everyone, but to different degrees—is most dominant in your body.

Vata Skin

  • Description: Vata is composed of the elements of air and space. If you have a vata skin type, your skin will be dry, thin, fine pored, delicate and cool to the touch. When balanced, it glows with a delicate lightness and refinement that is elegant and attractive. When vata skin is imbalanced, it will be prone to excessive dryness and may even be rough and flaky.
  • Potential problems: The greatest beauty challenge for vata skin is its predisposition to symptoms of early aging. Your skin may tend to develop wrinkles earlier than most due to its tendency to dryness and thinness. If your digestion is not in balance, your skin can begin to look dull and grayish, even in your 20’s and 30’s. In addition, your skin may have a tendency for disorders such as dry eczema and skin fungus. Mental stress, such as worry, fear and lack of sleep, has a powerful debilitating effect on vata skin leaving it looking tired and lifeless.
  • Recommendations for care: With a little knowledge, you can preserve and protect the delicate beauty of your vata type skin. Since your skin does not contain much moisture, preventing it from drying is the major consideration. Eat a warm, unctuous diet (ghee and olive oil are best) and favor sour, salty and sweet tastes (naturally sweet like fruits, not refined sugar) as they balance vata. Avoid drying foods like crackers. Drink 6-8 glasses of warm (not cold for vata types!) water throughout the day and eat plenty of sweet, juicy fruits. Going to bed early (before 10 PM) is very soothing to vata and will have a tremendously positive influence on your skin. Avoid cleansing products that dry the skin (like alcohol-based cleansers) and perform Ayurvedic oil massage to your whole body (abhyanga) in the morning before you shower.

Pitta Skin

  • Description: Pitta dosha is composed of the elements of fire and water. If you have a pitta skin type your skin is fair, soft, warm and of medium thickness. When balanced, your skin has a beautiful, slightly rosy or golden glow, as if illuminated from within. Your hair typically is fine and straight, and is usually red, sandy or blonde in color. Your complexion tends toward the pink or reddish, and there is often a copious amount of freckles or moles.
  • Potential problems: Among the many beauty challenges of pitta skin types is your tendency to develop rashes, rosacea, acne, liver spots or pigment disorders. Because of the large proportion of the fire element in your constitution, your skin does not tolerate heat or sun very well. Of all the three skin types, pitta skin has the least tolerance for the sun, is photosensitive, and most likely to accumulate sun damage over the years. Pitta skin is aggravated by emotional stress, especially suppressed anger, frustration, or resentment.
  • Recommendations for care: Avoid excessive sunlight, tanning treatments and highly heating therapies like facial or whole body steams. Avoid hot, spicy foods and favor astringent, bitter and sweet foods which balance pitta. (Again, naturally sweet, not chocolate and refined sugar!) Sweet juicy fruits (especially melons and pears), cooked greens and rose petal preserves are especially good. Drinking plenty of water helps wash impurities from sensitive pitta skin. Reduce external or internal contact with synthetic chemicals, to which your skin is especially prone to react, even in a delayed fashion after years of seemingly uneventful use. Avoid skin products that are abrasive, heating or contain artificial colors or preservatives. Most commercial make-up brands should be avoided in favor of strictly 100% natural ingredient cosmetics. And be sure to get your emotional stress under control through plenty of outdoor exercise, yoga and meditation.

Kapha Skin

  • Description: Kapha dosha is composed of the elements of earth and water. If you have a kapha skin type your skin is thick, oily, soft and cool to the touch. Your complexion is a glowing porcelain whitish color, like the moon, and hair characteristically thick, wavy, oily and dark. Kapha skin types, with their more generous collagen and connective tissue, are fortunate to develop wrinkles much later in life than vata or pitta types.
  • Potential problems: If your skin becomes imbalanced, it can show up as enlarged pores, excessively oily skin, moist types of eczema, blackheads, acne or pimples, and water retention. Kapha skin is also more prone to fungal infections.
  • Recommendations for care: Kapha skin is more prone to clogging and needs more cleansing than other skin types. Be careful to avoid greasy, clogging creams. Likewise, avoid heavy, hard to digest foods like fried foods, fatty meats, cheeses and rich desserts. Eat more light, easy to digest, astringent, bitter and pungent (well-spiced) foods as they balance kapha. Olive oil is the best cooking oil and a little ginger and lime juice can be taken before meals to increase your characteristically sluggish digestive fire. Take warm baths often and use gentle cleansers to open the skin pores. Avoid getting constipated and try to get some exercise every day to increase circulation and help purify the skin through the sweating process.

Inner Beauty: Gunam

Happy, positive, loving, caring individuals have a special beauty that is far more than skin deep. Conversely we all experience the quick and deleterious effect on our skin from fatigue and stress.

Inner beauty is authentic beauty, not the kind that shows on a made-up face, but the kind that shines through from your soul, your consciousness or inner state of being. Inner beauty comes from a mind and heart that are in harmony, not at odds with each other, causing emotional confusion, loss of confidence, stress and worry. Inner peace is the foundation of outer beauty.

Maintain your self-confidence and a warm, loving personality by paying attention to your lifestyle and daily routine and effective management of stress (I highly recommend the TM technique for its scientifically-verified benefits on mental and physical health and reduced aging.) You will also be healthier and feel better through the day if you eat your main meal at midday and make a habit of going to bed early (by 10 PM is ideal.)

Remember, kindness, friendliness and sincerity naturally attract people to you. On the other hand, being uptight or tense makes people want to walk the other way, regardless of your facial structure, body weight, or other outer signs we associate with attractiveness.

Lasting Beauty: Yayastyag

In order to slow the aging process and gain lasting beauty there are two additional key considerations beyond those already discussed:

  • Eliminate toxins and free radicals in the body.

The main deteriorating effects of aging come as toxins and impurities (called ama in Ayurveda) accumulate throughout the body. These toxins may begin as free radicals in the body, or over time may become oxidized into free radicals, all of which contribute to premature aging in the body. For lasting health and beauty it is essential to avoid and neutralize free radicals, to prevent impurities of all kinds from accumulating and to remove those that have already become lodged in the body.

The most powerful cleansing therapy in Maharishi Ayurveda is “panchakarma” therapy, a series of natural treatments ideally performed twice yearly, that involves 5-7 days in a row of massage, heat treatments and mild herbal enemas. Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of undergoing this cleansing program once or twice a year to prevent impurities from accumulating, localizing and hardening in the tissues. Just as we change the oil in our cars regularly for optimal performance and lifespan, Ayurveda recommends that we cleanse the “sludge” from our tissues on a regular basis through panchakarma treatments.

Best of all, panchakarma treatments are luxurious, blissful, and make you feel (and look) completely rejuvenated in just a few days time. I have had many a patient who told me that friends asked them afterwards if they had gotten a facelift, they looked so fresh and youthful!

Other free radical busters include: reducing mental stress, eating antioxidant foods like leafy green vegetables, sweet, juicy fruits and cooking on a daily basis with antioxidant, detoxifying spices like turmeric and coriander.

  • Add rejuvenative techniques to daily living.

The daily activities of life in the modern world systematically wear us down and speed up the aging process. Ayurveda maintains it is crucial to practice daily rejuvenative regimens to counteract the stressful wear and tear of everyday life. According to Ayurveda the most important rejuvenative routines for your life are:

  • Going to bed by 10:00 PM. This simple habit is one of the most powerful techniques for health and longevity, according to MAV.
  • Meditate daily. Any meditation that does not involve concentration (which has been shown to increase anxiety) can be very helpful. I highly recommend the twice-daily deep rest and enlivenment of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique, whose benefits have been verified by over 700 published research studies.
  • Eat organic, whole fresh food that is freshly prepared. There is an Ayurvedic saying: “Without proper diet. medicine is of no use. With proper diet, medicine is of no need.” Be sure to avoid those leftovers, processed and microwaved foods for better nutrition and vitality.
  • Perform Ayurvedic oil massage in the morning (abhyanga). Morning oil massage purifies the entire body, reduces anxiety and stress, helps prevent and heal injuries and supports circulation. It is especially helpful in creating a radiant complexion and keeping your skin youthful. Research shows it may also help prevent skin cancers.
  • Practice yoga asanas. Maintaining flexibility and circulation is key to health.
  • Practice pranayama (yoga breathing) techniques. Pranayama enlivens the mind and body. Ideally practice the following sequence twice a day. Asanas, pranayama and meditation.

Summary

Everyone’s unique beauty shines forth when they have radiant health and personal happiness. Beauty is a side effect of a balanced, fulfilled life. Supreme personal beauty is accessible to everyone who is willing to take more control of their health in their day-to-day life through time-tested principles of natural living.

For most of us, beauty is not a gift but a choice. Every woman can be radiantly beautiful simply by beginning to lead a healthier life. You will be rewarded by the glowing effects you will see in your mirror each day and the powerful, bliss-producing effect your special beauty has on everyone in your life.

Nancy Lonsdorf M.D. received her M.D. from Johns Hopkins and did her postgraduate training at Stanford. She has studied Ayurveda with some of the world’s most renowned Ayurvedic physicians in India, Europe, and the U.S. Dr. Lonsdorf has 17 years of clinical experience with Ayurveda and is currently the Medical Director of The Raj Ayurveda Health Center in Vedic City, Iowa. She has authored two books on Ayurveda and women’s health:  A Woman’s Best Medicine and A Woman’s Best Medicine for Menopause. You can reach Dr. Lonsdorf at  her website: www.ayurveda-ayurvedic.com