Ayurvedic Teacher & Practitioner
In today’s stressful and fast paced world, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to the basic fundamentals of health. Enter Ayurveda, the oldest continuously practiced health care system in the world. Originally from India, Ayurvedic medicine offers a profound but grounded, common sense approach to maintaining health, vitality, and a deeper wisdom for the process of healthy aging.
I’m honored and excited to feature Susan Bass, Ayurvedic Educator & Practitioner in the Pacific Northwest, as Smart Beauty Rituals’ first health expert. Susan Bass is the founder of the award winning Sarasvati Institute of Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy in Portland, OR.
Susan was drawn to her work as a teacher and healer after growing up as a child labeled “failure to thrive.” She thought it was something wrong with her until she found Ayurveda in her late twenties. From childhood into young adulthood, she experienced constant stomach pain, digestive upset and mental fogginess for which she was given decades of antibiotics, allergy shots and processed food, as well as the “this is normal” attitude from conventional medicine.
After a move from Mississippi to New York and much searching in her mid-twenties, Susan found help from an Ayurvedic Practitioner who took her pulse, looked at her tongue and her eyes then informed her that she was pre-diabetic. He shared the basic principles of health according to Ayurveda, how to eat properly, breathe properly, and the importance of creating an appropriate daily practice of self-care. He taught HER how to create her OWN health. For the first time in her life she was empowered and in charge of her own healing process.
Almost immediately the stomach pain, sleep and mental clarity improved. Susan’s life changed dramatically. Soon after, she quit her job at The Wall Street Journal and began to study Ayurveda & Yoga intensively.
What is the most common theme or health concern among your clients?
SB: Most people do not understand how to care for their bodies.
One important principle of Ayurveda is to move with cycles of nature. When you move against the flow you fritter away your body’s resources, like salmon swimming upstream. Resources that could go to growing new skin and bones go to trying to cope with living against the Mother, meaning Mother Nature.
Ayurvedic wisdom says that “A person is as old as their digestive system,” therefore we have a special emphasis on digestion and detoxification. Many individuals simply don’t know how to eat or care for their body properly because it is rarely taught in our culture. As a culture, we have lost respect for our ancestors and for nature. What Ayurveda teaches is what got our species here, how it survived all of these thousands of years. And we all know it wasn’t on power bars and take-out food.
When we eat, we literally absorb vitality of the sun. The sun gives Life Force (aka Prana, Chi, Holy Spirit). If you want to convert food into healthy tissue, it must contain that essential life-force, also known as prana. It must be alive and freshly prepared. Fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those in season, are alive. However, fake foods – processed foods from boxes or cans – do not have this essential life force.
“Organic” is such a buzz word these days, but it does not always mean “healthy.” An organic cookie or cake is still full of sugar and flour in most cases. They are so processed and devoid of life-force that they are almost impossible to digest. And most people don’t realize that the majority of toxins in our bodies are produced from food WE could not digest. We produce most of our own toxins from weak digestion
It is critical to consume simple, easy to digest, fresh cooked seasonal foods that are specific to YOUR digestive capacity, age, genetic profile and locale. If the food you consume does not have life-force, your body will not be able to make healthy tissue from it. The life-force is the common denominator that all LIVING things have in common. It is the life-force or prana in food that contains the true nourishment and the building blocks of healthy tissue. And in this case, we are talking about the building blocks of the skin.
The skin is the largest organ and the most visible of the organs in our body. Everyone know that healthy skin is indicative of a healthy body. That is why good skin is so attractive to those looking for a mate. Somehow, on a deep level we all know that is an important indicator of reproductive success. There is a multi billion dollar industry helping women look like they have good skin because having glowing, soft, clear skin is so helpful for success in life. It gives us confidence as well as serves as a flashing billboard stating the truth about our inner health. Whether you are looking for a partner in life, a job or selling your own skills, having healthy skin helps.
So, I teach people how to eat properly, how to breathe and move with the rhythms and cycles of nature to be able to build and maintain healthy tissue. Our body and our health are the most important investments we can make. When we are healthy, we have freedom, choices and options.
How does proper nutrition support beautiful skin and hair?
SB: It all starts with quality food, cellular circulation or microcirculation and good digestion. Consuming the proper foods and minerals that increase our intracellular water improves our skin and the health of all our organs. Minerals are what guides the water into the cells, thus allowing the body to take in and receive nutrients fully at the cellular level. This affects your overall health as well as the quality of your skin, hair and nails.
Please share your personal beauty routine with us.
SB: It’s important to shower or bathe with clean water, so a shower water filter is essential. Well water is also good in most cases.
I massage warm herbal oil into my face, hair and body daily before showering, which cleans, moisturizes and nourishes the body. I like Brahmi Coconut Oil from Banyan Botanicals (https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/shop/category/herbal-massage-oils/brahmi-oil-coconut/).
This oil is effective for both calming the mind and increasing circulation. After a thorough self-massage, ideally warming the oil, the warm water pushes oil into body for maximum benefits.
Tip: if you choose another oil, make sure it’s organic, cold pressed oil, and never heat in the microwave.
Quality is very important. The skin is an organ and needs to be able to breathe, so do not use mineral oil (it is a petroleum based product) or a traditional body lotion (as lotions dry the skin).
Simplicity is best.
I eat a teaspoon of organic, grass fed ghee with each meal. Ghee is a particular type of clarified Indian butter that nourishes the tissues while enhancing digestion and immunity. Ghee has a 96% absorption rate, the most absorbable of all the oils! Good fats like ghee benefit the skin, hair and brain.
Ozonated Castor Oil is an exceptional make-up remover and eye cream, and also helps active ingredients penetrate the skin deeply (http://naturalalternativepath.com/Castor/CastorOilinGlass2oz).
To moisturize my face, I use Riot of Roses Cream. It is great for soothing and cooling the skin. (https://www.galenswaystore.com/products/riot-of-roses-rose-cream).
Is there an ideal food (or supplement) we should take in the fall to enhance beauty and health?
SB: Warm water with electrolytes is the best herbal formula I know of for healthy skin. Hydration is very important. Choose mineral water or well water whenever possible.
Make your own Ayurvedic “Gatorade” by adding mineral salts, Himalayan pink salt, trace minerals, lemon or lime juice to your water.
For more ideas on increasing mineral consumption visit:
It’s also easy to increase hydration by eating foods like lettuces, vegetables and fruits. Bitter greens and butter lettuce are excellent hydrators, and the roots of plants filter the water for us.
I recommend adding parsley or other fresh herbs to food. Eat berries in season. Persimmons and pomegranates are delicious choices.
Many people do best with cooked foods in cooler weather. Try this recipe: Cook apples (skin on) with ghee, cinnamon (enhances circulation) and nutmeg (calming) and enjoy as a delicious healthy dessert.
Start to think about food in terms of hydrating v. drying, especially if you want beautiful skin.
For example, chips are dry, and can dry your skin out. Your body has to pull water from its own cells to reconstitute that chip for you. Power Bars, even the organic ones, are very drying and can be hard to digest. If you can’t digest it then you will be left with a toxic undigested food mass that will pollute your body and your skin. Either eliminate these or consume them only occasionally.
Consume more watery foods for plumper, clearer and glowing skin!
If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a student at The Sarasvati Institute of Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy or scheduling an Ayurveda consultation, please visit: http://www.theartofdigestion.com.