Beauty: Enliven Your Spirits with Ashwagandha, by Kristen Ma
Recently I went out for a friend’s birthday and it became very obvious that I was no longer a spring chicken. Gone are the days where I can stay out late and feel fine the next day. Instead, I slept through what would have been my morning yoga class and felt drained the whole day. But I have been feeling especially delicate lately. The seasons have been transitioning and I have been feeling Vata and depleted.
Season changes are characterized by the Vata dosha. This time of change and movement accumulates air and space energy, bringing the influences of energetic unrest and promoting insomnia, irregular digestion, dehydration, and a feeling of fatigue.
While we can do grounding, warming, and nourishing things to help with the transition – such as take warm baths, oiling our skin and eating heavy, moist foods – I think it’s always good to bolster our resilience with some traditional tried and true remedies. One of Ayurveda’s most common Vata-pacifying herbs is Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is one of the most powerful nutritive supplements and is what Ayurveda calls a “rasayana”, which is a group of remedies that help regeneration and rejuvenation. Rasayanas are used after detoxification or surgery to help restore our tissues after invasion and to hone our energy.
Being a rasayana, Ashwagandha is used to combat muscle and bone wasting as well as degeneration. I first started taking Ashwagandha capsules when coming off of veganism having lost a lot of muscle tissue. Because it helps with tissue regeneration, it also supports our skin tissue, decreasing dryness and the appearance of fine lines. It is known to be anti-aging and also helps those of us with Vata-excess prevent the thinning of our skin. Part of this is because Ashwagandha helps calm the nervous system and our ability to cope with stress. This allows our bodies to rest and strengthen so we can self-restore.
This herb is also excellent for supporting our kidneys, which are often considered integral to our energetic essence in Eastern medicine. The kidneys have a close relationship to our adrenals which secrete adrenaline (influencing how our body deals with stress), and they also dictate water-metabolism in the body. When the kidneys are weak, we also feel weak. We become prone to water retention, and our skin and bodies dehydrate.
Ashwagandha is said to be effective for increasing virility, aiding male impotence and premature ejaculation (Vata-excess symptoms). It is also known to be a good supplement for seniors and the elderly for its fortifying properties. While the premature ejaculation benefits don’t apply to me much, every so often I feel I could use a bit of help on the fortifying front! This season is a bridging season – a joint in time if you may. While our skin and bodies cope with the stress of adjusting to this change, we can support ourselves just a little bit with rasayanas such as Ashwagandha.
Kristen Ma is the co-owner of Pure + Simple Inc., a group of Holistic Spas with its own line of Natural Skincare and Mineral Make-up. She is an Ayurvedic Practitioner who has studied in Canada, the United States and India. She is also a Certified Esthetician with eight years of practical experience, having worked in Canada as well as Australia. Most recently, Kristen has authored “Beauty: Pure + Simple” which was published by Mc Arthur and Company. Kristen has written on the subject of Holistic Beauty for Vitality Magazine, Blink and Jasmine. She is also a regular contributor to B Magazine, Tonic and Sweat Equity Magazine.