Beautification is a daily ritual for me. Religiously, I set aside time every day to take care of my hair, skin, teeth, and body. It’s the way I relax, center, and practice self-care. It’s my sacred time. I try to assure that I am not interrupted or distracted during this 30-60 minutes each morning and evening.
For many years I have experimented with, studied, and taught about ancient beautification practices. The yoga, massage, and doula services I offer to clients at Mind the Mat come out of the ancient traditions of India, China, Thailand, Sweden, and South America, where beautification was an integral part of overall physical and mental health as well as spirituality.
Below are five natural beauty secrets I practice regularly. These practices come directly from my yogic studies on purification as taught in Ayurveda, an ancient medicine system developed more than 3,000 years ago in India. I call them secrets because many of them have been forgotten by modern culture, but are beginning to resurface.
1. Drink Water In the Morning
This is my boyfriend Gary who loves to practice all my beautification secrets, too, like drinking water first thing in the morning. These practices are for men and women both, and as a couple you can support each other to be as healthy as possible by introducing each other to new products and practices.
Aids digestion, detoxification and elimination
Morning is the most optimal time of day for elimination
Cleanses the colon so nutrients ingested throughout the day are absorbed well
Boosts metabolism and helps with weight loss
How and When To Use
Drinking a glass of water is the first thing I do every morning to open my morning beautification ritual. I use it as a 60-second meditation. I feel the cool water go down and thank it for cleansing me and giving me vital energy.
Drink a tall glass of room temperature, filtered or spring water immediately after waking in the morning on an empty stomach
Allow at least 30 minutes before eating anything else
2. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is the process of cleaning your teeth using oil
Supports gum health through the reduction of inflammation
Draws toxins out of the tongue
Increases freshness of breath
Heightens immune function
Many ancient cultures believed overall health began in the mouth, the same place where digestion begins
How and When To Use
I do oil pulling every evening before bed after brushing and flossing using two tablespoons of liquid coconut oil. My teeth feel much smoother and whiter and my gums healthier than before I incorporated this practice.
Can be done with oils such as almond oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, grape seed oil, apricot oil, olive oil, or avocado oil
Place oil in your mouth and swish it around and through your teeth and massage it into your gums with your tongue for 60-90 seconds
Spit oil into a jar to avoid clogging the drain
Once the jar is full, empty the contents into your outdoor garden or under a tree and reuse jar
3. Essential Oils
Depends on the plant from which it’s extracted from
Each plant oil has its own unique benefits
Overall, the use of essential oils as a replacement for harsh chemicals supports our health rather than challenges it
Our bodies naturally assimilate oils from plants whereas products containing chemical ingredients have negative side effects over time
All essential oils are anti-bacterial
How and When To Use
I use essential oils every day for many different reasons. Oils can be used alone or blended with other oils. I have a special place in my bathroom cabinet where I store all my favorite essential oils. Here are some ways I use them on a daily basis:
Use 10 drops in a full bath tub
Choose the specific oil depending on what you need need that day
The process of choosing the oil will help you to tune into yourself each day
Lavender is a calming oil, whereas wild orange, bergamot, or grapefruit are naturally uplifting and good to use to counter the winter blues
The above are a few examples, but many other oils can be used
Mouth Wash and Breath Freshener:
Mix one drop each of fennel, cinnamon, and peppermint into two ounces of water and swish it around in your mouth for sixty seconds
These oils support gum health, optimal digestion and are highly antibacterial
Make sure to use medicinal grade oils if you plan to ingest them
Doterra is a safe medicinal grade brand of essential oils
The above oils offer a safe alternative to chemical mouth washes and breath fresheners
Perfume and Deodorant:
Dab a few drops of essential oil on your wrists, neck, and underarms
Not only does it smell yummy, but also is excellent for your health
Geranium or clary sage is good for balancing female hormones, especially when applied in areas such as the underarms where there are many lymph nodes, whereas chemically manufactured perfumes and deodorants can damage the endocrine system over time
Frankincense supports youthful skin and stimulates DNA repair
The above are a few examples, but many other oils can be used as an alternative to chemically harsh perfumes and deodorants
4. Salt Baths
Epsom salt contains the naturally occurring minerals magnesium and sulfate
Magnesium is as important as vitamin D and calcium, but because of the increased processing of food and decrease of key minerals in the soil, many people are magnesium deficient
Magnesium calms the nervous system, counteracts high blood pressure, and is good for the heart
Sulfate helps to pull toxins out of the body and build necessary proteins in the joints and brain
How and When To Use
I notice that this ritual drastically reduces inflammation, puffiness, and bloating due to the detoxifying qualities of sulfate.
Do this as often as you can!
Draw yourself a bath with water as hot as you can stand to open your pores
Pour in 1-2 cups of Epsom salt
Soak for 20-60 minutes
When you soak in Epsom salt you absorb magnesium and sulfate through your skin
Use a few drops of your favorite 100-percent pure essential oil such as patchouli for feeling grounded and earthy or Ylang Ylang, which is a sensual scent and might put you in a romantic mood
Avoid using salts with added chemical fragrances
5. Henna Hair Color
Me with two of my friends who also use only Henna. We are all able to cover gray with brilliant shades!
Naturally conditions, fortifies, and repairs damaged hair
Like a mud mask for the scalp
Cooling in warm weather
Pulls toxins from the scalp
Thickens hair, reduces hair loss
Can be used as remedy for eczema and dandruff
Used in ancient cultures to bring color to gray hair
Accentuates golden or auburn highlights
How and When To Use
I use Henna on a monthly basis to cover gray with a light brown base and to bring shine and blonde highlights to my hair. I treat my hair myself or have a friend put the Henna on my hair for me. When I use Henna I feel that I am truly doing something healthy for my hair. To avoid an orange tint, I use black tea instead of water and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed in. Sometimes months I just do my roots and some months I do all my hair. For hair like mine, which is naturally dry, shampooing is altogether unnecessary. I wash my hair with water and clean my scalp by massaging conditioner onto it on a weekly basis. I have noticed over the past year since I switched to Henna that my hair is much softer, more shiny, and healthier than it was before. I mainly use Rainbow Henna Hair Color and Conditioner Light or Medium Brown.
Henna plant is ground into powder and available pure or mixed with other herbs to create various colors
Mix powder with purified or spring water to create a mud-like consistency
Follow the directions on the package you purchase
Be aware that some products sold as Henna are mixed with damaging chemicals, so when purchasing, make sure you choose a product that is made with only herbs, no other ingredients
Once Henna powder has been mixed it must be applied the same day, otherwise it will go bad because it is organic
Only use as much powder as you need to cover your hair
Do a test strand before applying all over
Leave in for as long as recommended on the package
Afterwards, rinse in the shower with cool water and then apply your favorite conditioner and rinse again
Do not use shampoo until the next day
Henna is a fantastic alternative to harsh chemical hair dyes and treatments
Note: All the above products can be purchased at Whole Foods in Alexandria, with the exception of Doterra essential oils.
Sara VanderGoot, CMT, e-RYT 200, RYT 500, is Co-founder of Mind the Mat Pilates and Yoga and Director of Mind the Mat Yoga Alliance certified teacher training program. Sara is an experienced Registered Yoga instructor with Yoga Alliance. She studied Interdisciplinary Yoga with Don and Amba Stapleton in Nosara, Costa Rica and at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Sara is Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, licensed by the Virginia Board of Nursing. Sara has been practicing massage therapy, including specialties Prenatal Massage, Postpartum Massage, Deep Tissue Massage and Thai Yoga Massage, in Del Ray, Alexandria for over 15 years and a yoga instructor for 7 years. At Mind the Mat she specializes in Prenatal Yoga, Postpartum Core Yoga, Mommy and Me Core Yoga, Partners Yoga, and Hot Flow Yoga. Sara frequently acts as a birth companion for many of her clients, doing massage and yoga during labor and delivery to facilitate comfort during both medicated and unmedicated births. Before becoming a massage therapist and yoga instructor, she was a lawyer in the Washington D.C. area and found that the healing practices of massage and yoga brought a balance to her life that she had been searching for.
Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga was founded in 2008 by Megan Brown, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Polestar Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation and Sara VanderGoot, Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher (e-RYT 200, RYT 500). In their private practices as physical therapist and massage therapist respectively Megan and Sara observed that many of their clients were coming in with similar needs: relief for neck and shoulder tension and low back pain as well as a desire for more flexibility in hips and legs, stability in joints, and core strength.
Together Megan and Sara carefully crafted a curriculum of Pilates and yoga classes to address needs for clients who are pregnant, postpartum, have injuries or limitations, who are new to Pilates and yoga, and for those who are advanced students and are looking for an extra challenge.