Tagged: inspiration

Ayurveda: Seeking Balance and Beauty

This I Wear | Ayurveda: Seeking Balance and Beauty

Balance may be a myth, but the stress we’re putting on our bodies is real.

Last year, I shared the beginning of my switch to natural beauty products with you. The switch was motivated by a desire to incorporate my values around sustainability and health into what I put on my skin. Yet it also coincided with my own search to find new daily self-care rituals for myself, especially at the end of a long workday. And that latter part is because I’ve realized that I have been putting myself under so much stress, that the stress is starting to show up as very real physical health issues.

From the unusual pain in my neck that I’ve had since last August to the feeling of being unable to go any further as I’m rushing the six blocks to the subway in the morning, my health issues have been seemingly inexplicable. My doctor tells me I’m perfectly healthy. And admittedly, every time I go to a doctor and tell her what’s wrong, I follow up any description of the problem with “but I think it is just stress related.”

Well, at this point, most choices I’m making about how I live my life are “stress related.”

Before doing a total life overall, I’ve started to get curious about what balance means for me right now.

Ayurveda, an ancient system of healing founded in India, offers a totally different perspective on balance. Ayurveda is about “learning how intimately your body and mind are connected, knowing what will make them work in harmony, and doing what you can to create that harmony.”* It sees balance not as an end goal – you cannot achieve it once and then always have it – but instead as a constant process of listening to our bodies and responding to its needs through the activities we choose to do, the food we choose to eat, and the lifestyle we choose to lead. Balance, in Ayurveda, looks different for each one of us and differs based on our age, the season and even the time of day.

Inspired and intrigued by this different perspective on balance, I tumbled down the Ayurveda rabbit hole. Here’s why I think I might stay for awhile.

After a few initial attempts to learn about Ayurveda (a dense confusing book and a few online dosha quizzes), I serendipitously ended up in class at the yoga studio I attend occasionally with the resident Ayurveda teacher who had just returned from India. Taking it as a sign but too intimidated by my total ignorance to ask her where to start, I picked up the book Essential Ayurveda by Shubhra Krishnan in the studio’s lobby, assuming that the teacher had likely picked out this book anyway. And lucky for me, it was the perfect introductory book and was such a good read that I almost missed my train stop on multiple occasions.

Since Ayurveda is a holistic healing system that relies on whole foods as “medicine,” the focus is truly on what we are putting into our bodies as nourishment, which obviously reflects in our outer beauty. When we’re functioning well on the inside, the outside glow is a natural side effect. But there are quite a lot of Ayurvedic daily “beauty” rituals – just consider oil pulling or dry skin brushing. My curiosity around how Ayurveda translates to skincare led me to Pratima Spa and Skincare, based in NYC.

As a birthday treat for myself, I tried the Ayurvedic facial, and my amazing esthetician Heidi (after I admitted I was intimidated by the products) walked me through where to start. I’ve been using the Pitta face oil twice daily after cleansing and before I add a little moisturizer on top. I’ve also been massaging post-shower with the Vata body oil, which is really lovely. If I had based my purchase on scent alone, I wouldn’t have picked these, but given how happy my skin is, I plan to stick with both. If you’re curious, you can pick up Pratima’s book Absolute Beauty (though I don’t recommend it as an introductory book) and take her dosha skincare quiz to find your dosha type and the right products for you.

And after all of this, I am still so hungry for more knowledge. It’s been really interesting also to see how it fits in with my regular yoga practice and (mostly) healthful diet.

So what does balance look like for me right now? Well, it looks like 10 minutes with the Headspace meditation app while I ride the train to work, going to bed earlier than I would like (old habits die hard!), and letting myself get up from my desk and take a break without feeling guilty for not looking busy. It looks like really luxurious evening rituals like a steamy shower followed by thoughtfully applying body oil to soothe the aches and pains. It looks like reaching for a glass of water or a cup of herbal tea instead of a caffeinated beverage. And it also looks like experimenting with new and delicious recipes that warm me from the inside out.

And most of all, it means acknowledging that only I know what my body feels like when it is in balance, and trusting my gut (rather than a perfectly normal blood test) when it says that it’s time to make some changes. Balance is not achieved in one day, but then again, it didn’t take just one day to reach this state of imbalance. But a very good place to start the healing process is simply to redefine our idea of balance to allow for constant change and even imperfection.

So tell me, what rituals keep you in balance? What are your best tips for letting go of stress?

*Krishnan, xvi.

Related No.6

This week, despite having multiple finished posts ready for your reading pleasure, I’m going to keep you in suspense just a little longer. Why? Because this week, I’m feeling a little bit more interested in being inspired than sharing. There’s something about the changing of the season that makes me feel more like listening than talking or writing. So here’s a few things that have been lighting me up lately, and I hope you’ll share what’s inspiring you in the comments.

1. Read Essential Ayurveda by Subhra Krishnan. I picked up this book at my yoga studio and it was the perfect introduction to Ayurveda. I’ll be talking more about why I loved it very soon, but why not get a head start on all of the lovely beauty and health tips about staying balanced year-round?
2. Adopt a plant. I just bought a little rosemary plant to add to my apartment’s greenery, and I have to say that buying a plant really brings out your inner optimist. Now just to find the perfect container for it…
3. Sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share! April and May are prime time for securing a farm share and getting delicious, freshly picked produce every single freaking week from summer into winter. Have no idea what I’m talking about? Read this. Then look up what’s available in your community on LocalHarvest.org.
4. Email me your career questions. I’ve been getting quite a lot of requests for career advice from many of you interested in working in sustainable fashion or a CSR department full-time. I will be putting a post together on my experience, so please email me if you’d like to make sure your question is answered.

*A little extra: Attend the book discussion of Maria Eugenia Girón with Kate Black on April 7th at the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator. The event will celebrate the launch of Girón’s new book, Sustainable Luxury and Social Entrepreneurship: Stories from the Pioneers, based on her experience in the luxury world.

Want more? Follow me on Twitter for more favorite reads and stylish finds.

Onward

This I Wear | Onward

I love the fresh start of a new year, and this year in particular, there were so many things that I was glad to leave behind – probably more things than I could say that about in quite awhile and many of which left me exhausted enough to where writing wasn’t in the cards for the last few weeks! Gratitude, possibly the most overused word of 2014, seems like a burden more than a blessing after such a strange year for me. But actually once I gave it a moment of thought, I realized I was grateful for something this year. Not little “write a thank you note” level of grateful, but more like exploding fireworks levels of grateful.

What could inspire such levels of gratitude?

Well, this year, I’m grateful for what others might mistakenly call competition.

As I look back over 2014, I am filled with gratitude for something that I don’t talk about enough here: the other amazing writers/thinkers/doers that are making sustainable and ethical fashion and more thoughtful living and consuming an accessible and easier way of being for truly everyone.

I’ve written about it before, but for a long time I felt alone in this – looking for sustainable and responsible alternatives to what I was finding in stores as well as thinking differently about buying things. There have been other small movements – trends in buying secondhand and vintage clothes, the DIY movement, etc – but I’ve been waiting for the movement that emphasized quality and responsibility without compromising on aesthetics. The movement that was more about a lifestyle change than a small shift.

And looking back over this year, I feel like it’s arrived.

So for my moment of gratitude for 2014, I want to personally thank the people whom I think are doing an amazing job in this area – some of whom I know personally, and others I have only admired from afar; some of whom I agree with completely, and others that bring a different perspective but share a similar vision. These are my go-to visionaries and I am so grateful for what they’re adding to the conversation.

Susie, Style Bubble – for introducing ideas of sustainability in a brand new way to her fashion-focused audience. While the ideas might not seem revolutionary to those of us who have been exposed to sustainability for awhile now, Susie’s coverage of these ideas feels truly groundbreaking given her high fashion audience and her voice in the industry. I’ve become a huge fan over the last year.
Vanessa Friedman, NYTimes – for being bold enough to use an incredibly powerful position to shake some shit up in the fashion industry and question fashion’s seemingly untouchable modus operandi.
Bruno Pieters, Honest By – for being the best example of what real transparency is, and bringing authenticity to a historically inauthentic industry
Natalie, Alabama Chanin – for teaching everyone what’s actually possible for a fashion company to do. From fair wages to growing your own organic cotton, it might sound easier than it is in practice, but Natalie has shown us it’s not as impossible as it seems.
Danielle Vermeer – for her incredible passion for connecting people in sustainability
Anuschka, Into Mind – for breaking minimalism down for us so that simplicity is suddenly accessible
Courtney, Be More with Less (whom I recently discovered) – for showing that minimalism isn’t about stripping away everything, but bringing more meaning to what you have
The Ethical Writers Coalition – for taking the competition out of fashion blogging and showing that making eco-fashion the only kind of fashion is going to be a group effort.
Rita, The American Edit – for using her background in manufacturing to introduce us to the brands and people who are actually doing “Made in US” the right way. I’m not a “Made In USA” adherent but I really appreciate Rita’s perspective and wisdom.
Shannon Whitehead – honestly is there anything this woman is NOT doing? From teaching startups how to manufacture responsibly in the US to teaching us all more about sustainability in fashion, Shannon is killing IT on the ethical fashion education front and we’re all reaping the rewards.

This is a big list, but I would encourage all of you to check out these individuals and their work and be inspired. I think fashion is seen as a competitive field, and maybe blogging is too. But when I think about sustainability and the shared vision of a world that will be here and livable for future generations, there is no place for competition, only collaboration.

And I am so incredibly grateful and inspired by the people who each day use their voices and influence to promote a different vision, a different world where people are more happy, more content, living in sync and with respect for our earth, and not drowning in stuff.

Photo Sources (clockwise from top left): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Compression

This I Wear | The White Shirt

Last week, I had a very interesting experience in the form of a reading, which I can’t quite explain. And no, I’m not talking about books. It wasn’t astrology and she’s not a psychic, but it was a really powerful experience, despite the fact that I am, in general, a very skeptical person.

I won’t go into too much detail since I’m not really sure how much of it to take to heart nor do I want you to think I’m one of those people who goes around looking for these sorts of things. But one of my favorite parts of the reading was when she told me that I’m in a period of compression – like a seed that will eventually bloom (what’s not to love?). And because I’m in this time of compressing, it’s the perfect time to shed the things that aren’t working for me anymore – negative thoughts, relationships that have run their course, and things in my closet.

Little did she know that I’m already living quite the minimal life, but it was a great reminder to not hold on too tight to things that aren’t working, but instead to loosen my grip and see where things go.

This week, I’m compressing my computer. It’s been on the fritz for a little while, so after I back it up in just a few more places for safety, it’s getting a fresh start.

Before I head offline and clean up this tech, I thought I’d share a little inspiration along the same topic of compression and the search for simplicity.

One of my favorite things on Pinterest is the search for timeless style (in fact, I have a whole board devoted to it!). I love looking for style inspiration, but I also always ask myself when I see an outfit I love if I think I’d still love it in a year, in two years, etc. It’s good practice for continuing my search for my own style and for improving my own abilities to see past trends and focus on the classics.

And one theme I find myself constantly being drawn to? A great button-down shirt. Whether you roll up the sleeves or tie the ends in a knot, there are endless ways to style a button down. And one in a crispy white will never go out of style.

What wardrobe staples make up timeless style for you?

Photos via Pinterest: one, two, three

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