Make Diwali Gifting Special with Astrea Hampers

Gift differently this Diwali ! Make it special for you and your loved ones by giving the festive spirit a beauty twist !

Sweets, chocolates and even dried fruits and nuts are passe now. People are thinking up new ways of gifting – gifts that make more sense, are utilitarian and spell class.

Diwali and Christmas are festivals that combine worship and socializing in equal measure. After rituals and prayers with family, it’s time to head out to private parties with a lot of singing, dancing and making merry. It’s also the time to carry gifts when invited to homes.

So much socializing also means new clothes, staying trendy and grooming. Check out the brimming shopping malls and beauty salons around you and you will agree with me. Offers and gift combos galore!

At this point in time when personal grooming is a priority for most people, why not think out of the box and gift them some beauty ? In the form of skin care, and ‘natural skin care’ at that ! Festive and party season also means fried food, alcohol, more makeup and less exercise. Skin can get dehydrated ! Increase in pollution due to the bursting of crackers and burgeoning traffic also means a lot of dirt getting embedded into the pores of our skin. Another reason gifting natural skin care will do all of us a lot of good.

I am about to suggest Astrea gift hampers, full of skin care products with natural ingredients and zero chemicals. Just the kind of products that will soothe and nourish skin. Take a look.

Assorted Body Scrub Diwali Gift Hamper

diwali gift hamper with three body scrubs from astrea

Astrea Assorted Body Scrub Diwali Gift Hamper

A set of three body scrubs to free your skin of all pollutants and dead skin cells.

  • Green Tea Emulsified Body Scrub
  • Coffee Vanilla Body Scrub
  • Sweet Orange Body Scrub 

Price : INR 499

Beauty is about keeping the whole of you radiant and beautiful, and not just the face ! These body scrubs are gentle on the skin and leave your hands and legs hydrated. Whats more, they lend that subtle glow to the skin giving it a healthy radiance. But avoid using them for the face. Astrea has cleansing grains which help exfoliate  face and neck.

How To Use : In the shower or while in the bath, scoop out a tablespoonful of the product into a small bowl. Smear the scrub all over your body, massage gently and let the sugar granules emulsify. Rinse completely and do not use any soap or body wash soon after. The idea is to let a hint of the oils nourish your skin. Using a foaming cleanser will nullify its purpose, that of hydrating and nourishing. Use them once or twice a week, not everyday.

Diwali Gift Spa Kit

two scrubs and one spa bar in Astrea diwali gift hamper

Astrea Spa Kit Diwali Gift Hamper

 

Two body scrubs and a Spa Bar.

  • Sweet Orange Body Scrub
  • Green Tea Emulsified Body Scrub
  • Citrus Blast Spa  Bar

Price : INR 599

The Spa Bar is enriched with castile soap, lavender buds, orange peel and glycerine. Use the lavender bud embedded side to mildly exfoliate. Now turn it over and use the other side to moisturise and hydrate. Cooler months have set in all over the country and this seems to be the ideal time to gift some beauty, some spa options !

How To Use : Use it in the shower and do not soap yourself after that.

The Dewy Matt Look Diwali Gift Hamper

Astrea diwali gift hamper for a dewy matt daytime look

Astrea Dewy Matt Look Diwali Gift Hamper

And now for some glam the natural way. Astrea has made its foray into makeup and launched two new products, the Creme Blush and  Lip Tint. This Diwali gift hamper also contains a face mist and a moisturiser. The four products together lend a soft matt dewy look and is being touted as the Diwali daytime look. Isn’t it such a safe option ? Giving makeup lovers more reason to use less chemicals on their faces ? And nothing better for those who like makeup, but are concerned about skin being exposed to chemicals ?

If you want to get a tutorial on how to get the dewy matt look, you can call Astrea for instructions. Number provided at the bottom of the post.

  • Morning Mist Day Cream
  • Youth Elixir Face Mist
  • Ms Bombshell Creme Blush (in 2 shades)
  • Senorita Lip Tint (in 2 shades)

Price : INR 699

More customisable gifting options also are available. Here are my suggestions keeping in mind the season of festivities which means more makeup, more partying, hence more intense deep cleansing.

  • Combo of oil cleanser, foaming cleanser and cleansing grains (total deep cleansing)
  • Day cream, night cream and under eye cream (total moisturising care)
  • Body scrub, face scrub and lip scrub (total exfoliation)
  • Lip scrub, lip balm and lip tint (total lip care)
  • Body scrub and body butter (total body skin care)
  • Cleansing grains, face mask and day/night cream (total rejuvenation)

Astrea is more than happy to help you with customisable gift options. Set a budget and let them pack a bundle of natural skin care gifting for you this Diwali.

Astrea Official : +91 93846 65561

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How To Get Glowing Skin With Astrea Three Step Deep Cleansing

A glowing skin is everyone’s dream today. Men have joined the bandwagon too. Peoples’ bathroom cabinets are replete with bottles of skin care creams, lotions and gels. It’s a jungle out there and we are spoilt for choice. Thousands are spent every month  on various OTC and neutraceutical skin care products. There can be some hits and some misses. But most often, the success of any skin care ritual lies in its first step – cleansing. Not just cleansing, but deep cleansing !

The first secret to glowing skin is deep cleansing, and if it were to be effective, one round of water cleansing is never enough to draw out the deeply embedded impurities and sebum. Not many are aware of this fact and hence they pay less attention to it.

I have been on this deep cleansing regime for a while now and have seen extraordinary results. Compliments too ! I have been battling dry skin and uneven skin tone for years; have used several pharmaceutical products, but the results have been far from satisfactory. All that changed when I found ASTREA, a Chennai based natural skin care brand last year and since then, my skin has felt and looked the healthiest. And yes, I began with deep cleansing as the first solution to my skin issues.

astrea deep cleansing products

Astrea Deep Cleansing Trio

Astrea has developed a set of cleansers which leave the skin thoroughly cleansed and mildly exfoliated, thereby revealing radiant, glowing skin. Koreans whose skin care regime has become the holy grail world over, recommend double cleansing twice a day, every single day. Astrea is Chennai’s answer to K-beauty skin care regime for they believe in layering of cleansing, toning and moisturising.

What Is Deep Cleansing ?

Deep cleansing is nothing but double cleansing. It starts out with using an oil cleanser, followed by a foam cleanser. Yes, we need two different formulas to thoroughly cleanse the face. And at Astrea, they have added an almost magical formulation, the cleansing grains that ever so gently exfoliate, leaving the skin clearer, brighter and radiant. I do this regime twice a day, morning in the shower, and just before I go to bed at night.

Oil Cleanser – Step 1

The first tip to discovering a luminous, youthful look naturally, is to begin with oil cleansing. Yes, even for oily skin. Surprised ?

Why oil cleansers you ask ?

Because oil dissolves oil! Oils pre-exist in our skin, either as sebum or those from our makeup. No matter what type your skin is, cleansing oils mix with these ‘not-so-good’ oils and draw them out.  Something that water based cleansers cannot, because oil and water do not mix !

Secondly, oils in the cleansers bind to surface impurities, pulling out the dirt without clogging pores.

Third in point – oil cleansers help retain our skin’s natural pH balance, which again water based cleansers cannot.

It’s the Koreans who popularised oil cleansing, but it’s not really only their secret. It’s an age-old practice, which got diluted when pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies misled us by promoting surfactants laden cleansers to grow their businesses. For, the damage caused by chemicals allowed them to promote related products that they promised would replace the lost oils and balance the skin. Here, I am saying don’t lose the oils in the first place. Go the natural way. Be naturally you !

Foam Cleanser – Step 2

After the oil cleansing, we need to remove the residual oil on the skin and a foaming cleanser does exactly that. It also draws out water-based debris such as sweat and the dislodged dirt from the skin. A word of caution – choose your foam cleanser wisely, one that has as less chemicals as possible. Any product that lathers contains oodles of surfactants which dry up the skin by stripping it of natural oils. Squeaky clean is a myth; more foam the better is a myth ! I would recommend aiming for healthy clean instead – cleansing, without losing skin’s natural pH balance.

Cleansing Grains – Step 3

K-Beauty’s next step after oil and foam cleansing is the exfoliation, which staves away dead skin cells and debris from the skin. But Astrea, with their amazing formulation of cleansing grains has included them in the deep cleansing regime. Here is the why and how.

  • This product contains Kaolin clay, colloidal oats (powdered oats) and crushed rose petals. Kaolin clay and colloidal oats very gently exfoliate and relieve the skin of any dead skin cells that may be sticking to it despite the above described double cleansing. With every passing year, the quality and texture of our skin changes and loses its capacity to shed dead cells on its own. This is where cleansing grains step in.
  • Rose petals contain natural oils and sugars that lock moisture into dry skin cells and give them a rejuvenated look.
  • This product that doubles up as a daily face wash and an exfoliator can be used even twice a day every day since it contains zero chemicals and the grains are soft and mild. My day is incomplete without these cleansing grains.

So, this 3-step deep cleansing should be done morning and night.

To remove all the pollutants, makeup, dirt, sweat and sebum of the day use it just before you go to bed.

Here is why you should do it in the morning too. I am assuming that you all know the benefits of moisturising at bedtime in order to let skin heal and regenerate. We need to remove all traces of the residual oils of the night.

Some may not feel the need to use cleansing grains in the morning, but it is a personal preference for me as they leave the skin appearing brighter and fresher.

I hope I have taken you through the nuances of deep cleansing and its now time to make informed choices. Like I said earlier, there is a plethora of choice out there and I hope to help you zero in on choosing the right natural face cleansers. Here is Astrea’s lineup of deep cleansing products. A blog post on the specifics of each cleanser in my next. Suffice it to say now that Astrea is a completely natural skin care brand with zero chemicals and natural preservatives.

OIL CLEANSERS

three oil cleansers from astrea

Astrea Oil Cleansers

  • Regenerating Oil Cleanser – For dry and mature skin
  • Refining Oil Cleanser – For oily and acne-prone skin
  • Nourishing Oil Cleanser – For normal and combination skin

FOAM CLEANSERS

foam cleansers form Astrea

Astrea Foam Cleansers

  • Berryluscious Foaming Cleanser – For normal to dry skin
  • Mount Carmel Foaming Cleanser – For normal to oily skin

CLEANSING GRAINS

Glow Facial Wash & Scrub – For all skin types

astrea cleansing grains for all skin types

Astrea Cleansing Grains GLOW

If you are looking for more details of the products immediately or wish to buy them, here are the contact details

Astrea Official : +91 93846 65561

Click ⇒ Astrea Facebook

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Sustainable Clothing – Amortela’s Giving Back To Planet Earth

Sustainable clothing, slow fashion and ethical fashion – words that caught my eye, when Amortela first announced the coming of their private label of clothing a few weeks ago. Invited to attend the launch of their resort wear the Fiori line, I was inspired to put pen to paper and collected a few stunning images of their clothing.

Fiori crop top with floral embroidery

Fiori short top with floral embroidery

Amortela is a pretty multi-designer concept store in the bi-lanes of Kasturi Rangan Road, Poes Garden. A 50-year-old bungalow got renovated and transformed into a vibrant space for sustainable fashion. I first met Tija Indrajit, the founder at the inauguration of the store a few months ago and despite being busy with the exuberant crowd of fashion lovers and friends of hers, I could see that passion for sustainable fashion in her eyes and words. Made a mental note to meet her again, but it never happened till I got invited to the launch of Fiori, a part of Amortela’s private label.

The beautiful floral hand embroidery is an ode to femininity, says Tija.

Fiori blue short top bell sleeves khadi resort wear at amortela, mythoughtlane

Fiori short top with bell sleeves and subtle embroidery at the neck and bust

So, Amortela in Spanish and Latin means “love for fabric”. But Tija Indrajit and her team –  store director Naina Chandani and designer Shilpa Iyer have added layers to the ‘love for fabric’ concept. Their brand philosophy is to encourage their customers to look beyond brands and through their Fiori range and many other lines, they have introduced at least 90% of their fabrics being made from non-genetically modified crops. That’s not all ! They insist on employing lean manufacturing methods in order to reduce wastage of water, land and energy. Now, that’s a mark of sustainable clothing !

One of my favourites, this palazzo pants with beautiful embroidery on the additional flaps.

Fiori embroidered palazzo pants in natural white khadi Amortela, mythoughtlane

Fiori embroidered palazzo pants in natural white khadi

Sporty and flirty, this blue wrap dress.

Fiori wrap dress navy blue floral prints Amortela, mythoughtlane

Fiori wrap dress in navy blue with floral prints

Delicate, elegant and adds some tenderness to the persona !

Fiori cold shoulder dress summery yellow handembroidered Amortela, mythoughtlane

Fiori cold shoulder dress with embroidery at the neck in summery yellow

One of Tija’s goals is to encourage young budding designers and provide them a space to showcase their creations. Shilpa Iyer is one such designer of Chennai, who has come up with the Fiori line exclusively for Amortela. Together, they are aiming at upping the style quotient of Chennai differently, through sustainable, ethical and slow fashion.

Prettiest jumpsuit ever.

Fiori blue jumpsuit with embroidery on sleeves khadi Amortela, mythoughtlane

Fiori blue jumpsuit with embroidery on sleeves

Shilpa Iyer, who played host gracefully at the event, explaining the intricacies of the environment friendly ‘khadi‘ fabric, married to trendy designs and elegant hand embroidery, pointed out their commitment to fair trade, which is also a component of ethical fashion. That involves employing local artisans, empowering women and ensuring fair prices reach them, thereby taking them along the journey. And to emphasise that, Amortela had a loom and an artisan brought in just for the event. Here goes :

The team has termed the Fiori line as slow-fashion-resort-wear. They are not in a hurry to introduce season-specific new designs ; they would rather that their customers enjoy wearing their creations  for as long as they last. Precisely why most of the Fiori line is in khadi, a fabric which can keep cool in summer and afford warmth in colder months.  All their designs lend themselves well to layering. That is Amortela‘s very significant step towards sustainable clothing.

And this one here sums it up.

This one, just right for our still blazing summer in Chennai.

Now the resort wear part of it is what I am not convinced about. They are too pretty to be reserved only for resort wear ! The day I bought the outfit below, I wore it to a very happening event in the evening and I must say it was comfort personified. I accessorized it with a body chain and boots and yes, compliments poured in. The picture by themselves are not high res, nevertheless posting them to show how pretty the dress looked.

Kudos Amortela team and Shilpa Iyer for this wonderful initiative of sustainable clothing and ethical fashion. For that is what our planet needs most.

This is not a commissioned post. I have bought a few clothes and sustainable clothing is a subject close to my heart.

If you want to shop at Amortela, call them at….

Details: +91 (893) 9409501

 

Himalayan Salt is a health booster, a beauty aid and air purifier

Move over to the healthy Pink Himalayan salt from the refined white salt. This is one big change you got to make if wellness is your priority. If you have stopped by to admire those beautiful, pink-hued, rock salt crystals on the shelves in your neighbourhood health store, time for you to check them out. Buy a packet today and use them in your cooking, add it to your salads or to anything that needs a dash of salt.

Unground pink himalayan salt crystals dr axe, my thought lane

Pink Himalayan salt crystals Image courtesy : Dr Axe

Pink Himalayan salt has already caught on in India and elsewhere in the world with all the advocates of ‘Food is Medicine’. And for all those still wondering whats the big deal about it, here go few solid reasons that should convince you to make the change. From refined white salt to Pink Himalayan Salt.

It Is Pure

Authentic Pink Himalayan salt is mined from the Khewra Salt Mines, the oldest and largest salt mine in Pakistan. This mine is millions of years old (probably 250 million years) and the salt extracted from it is unrefined and pure. That means the salt has not been exposed to pollutants like pesticides, toxins and other impurities.

The white salt that most people buy from regular stores is got from evaporating salt water, or extricating solid salt from salt mines. It then goes through chemical processing and bleaching to remove impurities. In the process, many precious minerals are lost and in order to compensate for the loss, manufacturers add additives which are not half as good as the natural minerals. Whats more,  anti-caking agents (which are harmful) are added to absorb moisture and keep the salt free-flowing. Typical table salt consists of 97.5% sodium chloride and 2.5% chemicals.

Many people are turning to sea salts for their regular usage, but a word of caution here. All salt is sea salt, where else would any salt be got from? The sad part though is that most of our lakes and oceans are contaminated with toxic poisons like mercury, PCBs  and dioxin (both, classes of man-made chemicals). Oil spills make it worse, leaving behind toxins that will stay on in the water for ages. More than 85% of sea salt producers use refining processes, of which we have already talked about. Hence do not fall for a mere ‘sea salt’ term, on the labels. Look more closely for any additives and loosely coined ingredient list.

Pure salt will lump up more easily and more frequently than the refined salt, but that’s not a matter for concern, rather proof that it is unrefined and safe ! Some anti-caking agents may contain ammonia and aluminium, which are associated with neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimers’s disease. Pink Himalayan salt is spared of all of the above. Will you opt for it now ?

Sodium Potassium Balance

The scientific name for table salt (white, refined) is Sodium Chloride. Does that sound unsafe to you? It should….else here is why ! Table salt, undergoes a refining process that robs it of all its minerals, except sodium and chloride. Your doctors and nutritionists have all told you that sodium increases water retention, which is hard on your kidneys – they have to work overtime to expel the water. The circle of damage continues. Strain on kidneys means higher blood pressure and that in turn leads to hypertension. Now, our body is a work of marvel. The creator has made sure that potassium works with sodium in a specific ratio to regulate blood pressure. Unfortunately, table salt loses many of the nutrients, potassium being one of them, in the refining and bleaching processes. So the balance becomes lopsided when you consume refined salt. Pink Himalayan salt on the other hand also contains sodium, but in lower proportions (3). Besides it is enriched with potassium that counterbalances sodium and the equilibrium is therefore maintained. So, has Pink Himalayan salt come on your shopping list now ?

More Minerals

Mike Adams, editor of Natural News (world’s top source on natural health) describes Pink Himalayan salt as ‘full spectrum’ salt. Rightly so, since it is loaded with 84 healthy, naturally occurring minerals and trace elements. Refined salt gets devoid of 80 minerals in the refining process, including iodine. But salt manufacturers put back only iodine into it, calling it ‘iodized salt’. Do you know why there is this stress on iodised salt? Because while consuming refined salt leads to many degenerative diseases that are not so obvious, the one that stands out is goiter, the most noticeable ! Hence, unscrupulous salt industry magnates use ‘iodized salt’ to their advantage. Lack of iodine can lead to mental retardation over generations, but that is hard to put a finger on. You get it ? Why eat nutrient-deprived processed salt when you have the nutrient dense Pink Himalayan salt?

Some of the other afflictions of processed salt :

  • Cellulite
  • Rheumatism, arthritis and gout
  • Kidney and gall bladder stones
  • High blood pressure

Why is Pink Himalayan salt pink ? Because it contains minerals like potassium, iodine, iron, manganese and calcium as well as the lesser heard of molybdenum and strontium, and together they all give it its signature pink hue. The crystals can vary between non-white to shades of pink. All natural, full spectrum salts are either non-white, pink, brown or sandy in colour. These minerals are amazingly connected in structure, making it easy for the body to absorb the trace minerals.

Useful tip : Make sure you buy Pink Himalayan salt in crystal form and avoid the powdered variety. Powdered salt could sometimes be adulterated. Buy the crystals and run them in your grinder or food processor at home.

You can buy the salt online. I buy mine from either Dhanyam, Terra or Earth Story in Chennai.

pink himalayan salt crystals from earth story store

PHS crystals from Earth Story

Healthy Support To Your Body

The word ‘sodium’ ups antennas in the world of health, but the negative connotation is directly proportionate to excessive consumption. Sodium has its positive role to play in the health of humans. Muscle contraction, glucose absorption, cardiac functions and fluid regulation, all need sufficient amount of sodium for optimum functioning. Chloride supports the digestive process and is required to maintain blood pressure and volume. Iodine, meanwhile promotes healthy thyroid functioning. Pink Himalayan salt is packed with all these nutrients and more to keep a healthy body. Plus, it contains all of the six electrolytes  needed to maintain appropriate hydration levels in the body, as well as for muscles and nerves to function at their best. Listed as phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride. These electrolytes can also provide relief from migraines and support the adrenal glands. Another reason to make the change?

Better Taste

Table salt adds a salty sharpness to your dishes, but Pink Himalayan salt gives that subtle soft flavour, enhancing the taste of the dish. However, since most people are so used to that strong sharp taste of table salt, they may end up using more Pink Himalayan salt to arrive at the taste they have been accustomed to. This can be avoided. Trust me, it’s all a matter of habit and training your taste buds. Get used to the subtle taste of salt.

Special Notes

Fitness 

Athletes, sport-persons, people living in hot climates and all those who exercise a lot would do well to replace white, refined salt with Pink Himalayan salt. They sweat a lot and with that lose minerals. Processed salt as mentioned earlier cannot replenish the body with such minerals, only full spectrum salts can.

Food cravings

Making another case for Pink Himalyan salt. Have you had cravings for junk food and processed food, or even extra salt at the dining table while everyone else seems to be finding the dishes right ? Try using Pink Himalayan salt, the cravings may reduce, which are in reality – craving for full spectrum salt. Since your body lacks minerals, it sends wrong messages to your mind and you end up eating salty foods full of processed salts. Hence try to get full spectrum salt in your daily diet.

If you have high blood pressure, chuck processed salt out today and replace it with Pink Himalayan salt. Stop eating salty snacks like chips and canned soups. Fried salty chips are also big culprits in acidity issues – I have personally paid a hefty price for gorging on potato chips and it took me a good fifteen days to get rid of it. Soup cans are lined with BPA, another health hazard. Instead opt for homemade fruit smoothies and healthier snacks, remember to use full spectrum salts.

Additional health benefits of Pink Himalayan salt may include:

  • Regulation of water levels within the body for proper overall functioning
  • Helping reduce common signs of aging
  • Encouraging healthy blood sugar levels
  • Promoting cellular energy creation
  • Reducing cramping (like leg cramps)
  • Improving absorption of nutrients from foods
  • Aiding vascular health
  • Lowering the incidence of sinus problems and promoting overall sinus health
  • Providing circulatory support
  • Improving bone strength
  • Fostering a healthy libido
  • Promoting kidney and gallbladder health.

Beauty Aid

There is more to Pink Himalayan salt than just internal health. It is widely used in skin care products and makes an excellent bath salt. With its numerous skin nourishing minerals, bathing with Pink Himalayan salt is known to soothe aching muscles and stimulate healthy blood circulation. I am a fan of a natural skin care brand, Astrea that makes a body scrub called Himalayan Beauty, using the said salt.

body scrub with pink himalayan salt and other natural ingredients, my thought lane

Himalayan Beauty body scrub from Astrea

Air Purifier

Have you seen Pink Himalayan salt lamps in your friends’ houses and wanted one? Pink Himalayan salt is known to possess air purifying properties through the power of hygroscopy  and that is why you saw them on their desks. Here is how : Salt as we all know attracts water vapour. It also attracts air pollutants. While water vapour evaporates due to the heat of the lamp, dust allergens remain trapped in the salt and you are spared of them.

Pink Himalayan salt lamp

And that kind of sums up the many benefits of Pink Himalayan salt. Dear readers, when you do make the change or if you are already using Pink Himalayan salt, please share your views and feedback in the comments. We can all benefit from each other.

This is an informative blog and neither diagnostic or prescriptive. 

Sources include :

  1. https://sites.google.com/site/healthpartisan/salt-alert—aluminium
  2. https://blog.paleohacks.com/himalayan-salt/#
  3. https://www.naturalnews.com/028724_Himalayan_salt_sea.html
  4. https://draxe.com/electrolyte-imbalance/
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygroscopy
  6. http://www.naturallivingideas.com/himalayan-pink-salt-lamp-benefits/

How Barefoot Walking Can Transform Your Health

How often do you see people walking barefoot these days? In places of worship you may say. If you saw someone walking barefoot, you may even think he is an eccentric! True that ! But, allow me to take you on the ‘barefoot in the park’ track, unravelling its numerous benefits. Kick off your footwear for a while and allow your feet to feel the ground.

My experiment with walking barefoot started randomly on an impulse. While I sat reading a book with my home footwear on, I felt unusually warm in the soles of my feet. Still immersed in my book, I slipped my feet instinctively out of the slip-ons and sat with my feet bare, for the rest of my reading. A lovely feeling of coolness coursed through my feet and into the rest of me. I felt refreshed; I put the book down and sat wondering where the goodness of it all came from. The sensation triggered a something in me and I walked out barefoot in my compound for a stroll to test it out. Into my 100th step, I sensed that it was that connectivity to the earth that had rejuvenated me. I am not exaggerating. Don’t take my word, try it out yourself. So here is more on the advantages of walking barefoot, a result of my research and experience. It has now become a part of my ‘keep-healthy’ habits.

Born barefoot, we leave this earth barefoot too (except in some faiths), but most of what we experience between the two destined points, we cover our feet up with protective footwear. To understand how important being barefoot is, lets travel back in time to our infant days when our first tottering steps felt the ground. Isnt that how we all learnt to get a grip on our feet and balance ourselves? The muscles of our feet oriented themselves when we first commanded them to hold us up. But in a few months our parents got us ‘soft baby footwear’ and being barefoot became a rarity.

Have you ever wondered why pains and aches were almost non-existent in our childhood? Because we played barefoot and walked barefoot too sometimes. As we grew into our teens and adolescence, we donned more footwear and walked less barefoot, thereby inhibiting the senses in our feet and allowing the tiny muscles to weaken.

Pic Courtesy : Ojai Healing Movement Sanctuary

Amy Mathews, a movement analyst has this to say, “Shoes can make the feet passive and unconscious because they do all the work for us.” The arches of our feet are crucial to providing support and balance to our bodies. The more we allow our feet muscles to weaken, more the number of pains and aches in our legs and lower back. Barefoot training can help us keep our feet muscles conditioned, and in some cases even reverse some amount of damage done.

Get In Touch With Your Feet : Reconnect with the various muscles and senses in your feet and you may ward off future injuries. There are 26 joints that make up our toes and feet and along with them are the supporting muscles, ligaments and tendons. Lets learn to pay attention to them and see how we feel. Flex the feet, curl them up, wiggle the toes, stand on toes and heels alternatively (take support if you need), touch and tap the tops and bottoms of your toes. Wake up their sensory awareness and make them agile.

Being Earthed : Another fascinating dimension to barefoot walking is the ‘earthing’. Scientific research and early studies have shown several health benefits of kicking off shoes and treading the ground barefoot. We have a connection with the Earth and its magnetic field. Earth’s electrons have their own charge, the negative ions. When we come in direct contact with earth, our bodies gain from it tremendously, reducing inflammation, increasing antioxidants and improving sleep. Earthing research and observations describe Earth as a ‘global treatment table’. A great book to read to learn more about this is  Earthing by  Clinton Ober.

We live in a strange yet miraculous world. For a change, we are going to be asking for something negative !! Before your eyebrows shoot up, let me tell you that we are talking about positive and negative ions. Modern life and technology have made our lives easier through gadgets and electronics, yet there is a price attached to it and if that price involves our health, we need to sit up and take notice.

Ions affect our health. Positive ions are not a blessing, negative ions are. If you wish to know more about ions, click here

There is a proliferation of positive ions in cities or any place where electronics and electro-magnetic frequencies are used. We are surrounded by smart phones, laptops, televisions, microwaves and cell phone towers, which emit abundant pro-inflammatory positive ions. These flood our bodies, thereby giving birth to several inflammation issues. Barefoot walking allows us to absorb Earth’s negative ions which in turn balances the positive and negative charges within us. Many health issues get sorted out nature’s way thereby (4).

‘Earthing’ is the first and quite influential benefit of walking barefoot, but there are many other benefits of walking barefoot as well. Such as:

Health Benefits Of Walking Barefoot

Yogis and spiritual heads in most parts of Asia still sleep on the floor to get connected with Mother Earth better.

  • In a review published in the Journal of Environmental and Public health, patients with chronic pain who slept on grounded carbon fiber mattresses saw a reduction in their pain, and slept better (1).
  • Earthing changes the electrical activity in the brain. It also helps skin conductivity, moderates glucose regulation, reduces stress and boosts immunity (2).
  • Barefoot walking or ‘earthing’ increases the surface charge of red blood cells, thereby avoiding clumping and the resultant heart diseases. It may also help regulate the endocrine and nervous systems (2).
  • Nature walks’ open up our minds amidst the greenery. Walking creates physical and emotional rhythms. Even a light stroll helps release endorphins.

Improves Sleep Quality

Remember our ancestors slept on the ground with minimal bed linen? Have you gone swimming in a lake or the ocean sometime and slept better that night? In both of the above, ‘earthing’ happens naturally, replacing positive ions of the body with the negative ions of the earth, thereby removing tension from the body. Walking barefoot is also supposed to enhance the circadian rhythm if done on a regular basis.

Keeps Us Alert

Exercise systems like Yoga, Tai Chi and martial arts are all performed barefoot, but do you know why? Masters in those sciences claim that being barefoot wires our brain and helps keep us alert at all times. Doing squats and lifting weights barefoot is gaining popularity as natural resistance is the best resistance from which the body benefits immensely.

Ionic Balance

We all are aware that our bodies are 70% water. When we walk barefoot, that water becomes more conductive and alert. An ionic balance is achieved within our cells and tissues, resulting in better health and keeping inflammation at bay.

Pic Courtesy : Top 10 Home Remedies

Enhances The Senses

Our cavemen ancestors walked on sand, grass, wood and pebbles and had strong legs. They enjoyed better health because the nerves and pressure points in their feet got better stimulated, and allowed more chi energy to flow to different areas of the body associated with those pressure points. By wearing footwear all the time, we are shutting out many sensory experiences and letting those nerve endings remain unstimulated.

Instils Mindfulness

When we walk barefoot, we need to watch where we are walking. We need to be in the present moment. Walking is a primal pattern and a sub-conscious activity for the homo-sapiens. When we allow our feet to come in contact with the ground barefoot, we let ourselves be drawn into a more conscious state.

Improves Overall Posture

Reiterating a fact mentioned earlier in the blog – we were made to walk barefoot, but one of the prices we have had to pay in return for civilisation and industrialisation is our dependency on footwear. Constant use of footwear weakens certain muscles of our feet, legs and abdomen.. We then rely on other muscles to compensate, leading to bad posture, pains and aches. When we walk, jog, run or play barefoot, we gift ourselves health. Those muscles that remained shielded from adequate use are now being put to work and have gained strength, giving us better stability, balance and posture. India’s Milind Soman who completed the Ironman Challenge in 15 hours, 19 minutes and 29 seconds in his first try runs barefoot most of the time. Milind Soman is an Indian supermodel, actor, film producer and fitness promoter. He along with Reema Sanghavi founded Pinkathon, India’s Biggest Women’s run created with the objective of spreading awareness about women’s health related issues, breast cancer in particular.

Benefits of barefoot walking, my thought lane

Milind Soman, the Pinkathon ambassador running barefoot

How To Walk Barefoot

Start Slowly : Set aside footwear for a while. Walk barefoot for at least 5-10 minutes a day to begin with. Are your soles complaining of hard surfaces? Did they feel poked and pricked? Are they really so tender or have we brought them to it? Time then to make a start and get them accustomed. Start walking barefoot at home for a day or two. Then step out and walk on bare ground, your feet may take it better. “It’s better to practice for 10 minutes a day than an hour once a week”, says Matthews.

Focus On Your Feet : Most often, as we take a step forward and roll the foot from heel to toe, our weight travels from the heel to the big toe. Walk around a bit and see for yourself. The little toe hardly touches the ground. The bones in the outer foot are the strongest and designed to support our bodies. The arch of the foot largely depends on how our feet roll. But, when the body weight travels directly from the heel to the toe, the arch tends to become weaker and collapse. Hence, try to shift your weight from the heel to the outer bones and from thereon to the little toe. This can immensely help people with flat feet. For the rest of us, it can help strengthen our knees, pelvic floor and muscles of the abdomen, when practiced over a period of time.The human body is a marvel, isn’t it ?

barefoot walking can transform your health, my thought lane

Milind Soman, actor and fitness enthusiast running barefoot

Where To Walk Barefoot : Start walking around barefoot at home. Then step out to try the natural ground. Walking on grass or sand is ideal and fun, but how many of us are so lucky? You have the option of visiting a park or the beach for a few minutes everyday. But, if your feet can take it and if you have no other choice, you may walk on the gravel or tiled pathways in your compounds. If your surroundings permit you in terms of safety and hygiene, try walking on the mud patches lining the streets. It’s really no big deal, just a matter of training your feet and that should take you a couple of days at the most.

Take care if you have broken skin or open wounds. Do remember to wash your feet under running water after ‘walking barefoot in the park’ !

Europe has provided over 100 shoe-free parks and paths to its citizens, with specially designed paths laid with either grass, logs, smooth stones, water and mud. In India, we do not have public spaces for such walking, but a few gyms and sports rehab centers have equipped their floors with indoor and outdoor walking tracks.

When To Watch Out

As with any exercise or new activity, we need to tread cautiously. Too much too soon can end up in some kind of an injury. Avoid walking barefoot if you experience any pain in your feet or legs. Give it a break and start again after resting them adequately. But do try it out and start a healthy habit. Walk, jog or dance barefoot, you will reap the benefits for sure. Consult your doctor if you have any health issues that may interfere with walking as a fitness activity per se. All general physicians may not be aware of the benefits of barefoot walking, they are neither trained nor aligned in recourse to nature. However, sports medicine doctors and fitness professionals are sure to be in the know-how and should be able to help you in case of doubts or advice. As we turn more and more towards naturopathy, make barefoot walking a part of your life, for at least five minutes a day.

Sources :

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-9099/the-surprising-health-benefits-of-going-barefoot.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/

https://healthywildandfree.com/the-effects-of-walking-barefoot-5-minutes-daily-are-astonishing/

http://www.naturalnewsblogs.com/negative-ions-friends

Seven Reasons Why Breathwalking Can be Uplifting

Benefits Of Breathwalking Go Beyond Mere Weight Loss

I would choose an outdoor walk over a treadmill in a gym for my cardio anytime. For reasons of it being the most natural activity in the most natural ambience. My Fitness Walks are like rituals, I give them my best every time and gain an abundant lot in return.

I try to put in new dimensions to my fitness walks now and then. This time around breathwalking or meditative walking caught my attention. I started it on an impulse. I had heard of shower meditation, which motivated me to incorporate mindfulness into my walks. Much to my surprise did I realise (later) that breathwalking is being put to therapeutic use in the treatment of certain health conditions.

Meditation has brought a lot of peace into my life in the past few months and mindfulness in my walks became it’s natural extension! Fitness trackers keep a count of steps, I chose to count my breaths ! I truly did not expect to sustain my newly found interest to last more than a few minutes, let alone complete my walk ! But it stood by me and here is my count : 1096 breaths in a 60 minute walk covering a distance of 6 km. I was thrilled alright, but why did this walk seem different? I felt energised, extremely satisfied and calmed despite the weather being stiflingly warm, and being drenched in sweat. I had my first taste of meditative breathwalking.

meditative breathwalking, my thought lane

Counting steps is easier than counting breaths. The inhaling and exhaling takes longer than simply putting one foot in front of the other. It threw me off at the start, but by the time I reached the 10th count, I had kind of settled down to the rhythm of my breathing. From then on I thoroughly enjoyed focussing on my breaths and kept a steady count. Here is what I gained by meditative breathwalking, but before that the ‘how’ of it all.

How To Breathwalk

Breathwalking in health and wellness terminology is described as an exercise technique that synchronizes walking steps, specific breathing patterns and focussed attention.

  • Begin your walk at your normal pace.
  • As you settle into a rhythm, start counting your breaths. I suggest you make it a fun activity rather than setting off with a grim determination to get it right. Rest assured, in about 10-15 minutes you will get the hang of it. The idea is to cultivate openness, relaxation and an awareness of your mind and body.
  • If you are a brisk walker, inhale for four steps, exhale for four. Just a guideline, feel free to set your rhythm. Slow walkers may have to test it out for themselves, whatever works for you.
  • Feel your diaphragm move up and down.
  • Breathe through your nose, especially if you are on an outdoor walk. It helps filter dust particles while helping you maintain proper balance of oxygen and carbon-di-oxide.
  • Align your neck with your spine, tuck your tummy in and do your breathwalk.
  • If at any point you feel stressed or tired, stop counting. Breathe and walk normally, relax and take a relook at the process. There must be something that you are not doing right. Start afresh and concentrate on getting closer to the right way.
  • Take a break if you feel stressed, but get back to breathwalking soon.
  • Avoid chatting up with other walkers, it will hamper your rhythm. A tip : Keep socializing for later. Do not show any signs of slowing down your speed if a friend is walking towards you. That way they will get a hint and will not disturb you.
  • Start your walk with a warm up and keep a cooling down regimen and stretch regimen after you finish.

The Benefits of Meditative Breathwalking :

1) Brings Better Focus To Your Walking. Meditative breathwalking shuts out all the crap and lets you focus on yourself and your fitness activity. You begin to observe your body, your gait, your form and a natural thought is given to correct them all if you are out of sync

2) Calms You Down. We live in a stressful world and we are wont to welcome calmness in any form. Just like in a meditative state, your breathing gets regularised, and with that a sense of calm envelopes you even while your body continues to be in momentum. You must experience meditative breathwalking.

3) Increases Your Speed. Contrary to what most people would think, you speed up with meditative breathwalking. A calming effect is a slowing down you think? In most cases yes, but if you are conscious that you are doing a fitness walk, it works the other way. With every breath that has now become deeper, you inhale more oxygen and you are in no hurry to exhale. It’s just a natural and involuntary process. You hold the breath in for a few seconds and exhale slowly. By now the rhythm would have been set and with more oxygen, you will feel more energised and move effortlessly. There is a certain smoothness to your walk, unless a ditch on the road, or a passing car, or a dog come in your way.

4) Feel More Positive. Any guess why? Your mind is so engaged with counting the breaths that it shuts out everything else. All those bothersome thoughts and memories about your workplace, your home, your relationship or your finance recede to the background. A random thought may cross your mind now and then, but wont stay long and neither set forth a whirlwind of related emotions. Your mind has to get back to counting your breaths. You have just managed to push negativity out of your radar and your mind is kind of at peace. This is the biggest plus of meditative breathwalking and precisely why you feel top of the world at the end of your walk.

5) The Opportunity To Improve Your Form. Yes, with your focus on the ‘now and here’, you tend to start watching yourself. Right time to correct your gait/walking form (doesn’t matter that you are in front of a mirror). Take my word, you will make an effort. Tuck your tummy in, pull back your shoulders if you round them as a matter of habit, and keep your neck in line with your spine. Your body is now aligned. Notice how confident, tall and energetic you feel. A few days into this practice, you may be able to make it a habit for life! Meditative breathwalking has just changed one aspect of your lifestyle!

6) Burn More Calories. Walking is instinctive to our species and is as natural as breathing. Add a technique to it, it sets a chain reaction in your body and the benefits just multiply. For one, your fitness walk has just become more efficient and effective. Two, with proper form comes the burning of more calories. You certainly have read somewhere that just keeping the right posture burns calories. An excerpt from my earlier article, Are You Looking For Weight Training Basics To Get a Sculpted Body?  Did you know just sitting and standing in correct posture can burn a few calories? When you maintain proper posture, your muscles are being worked to maintain the alignment of the body, thereby adding to your calorie burn”.

7) Better Sleep. You have walked faster and fitter. You have burned more calories. You are relaxed despite the brisk walk. You feel more positive. You have improved your form and you have counted breaths till the last step of your fitness walk. There is a sense of achievement within you. It’s now time to hydrate, so grab some water, head home and eat up a healthy meal. Assuming this is your evening walk, your body feels well conditioned and you head for a restful deep sleep. If you are a morning walker, your entire day ahead of you pans out more energetic. So both ways, meditative breathwalking is a boon.

Two Ways Of Meditative Breathwalking

When I began meditative breathwalking, I ventured into counting the total number of breaths through my entire walk and here are the stats : 1096 breaths in a 60 minute walk of 6 km. I felt great at the end of it alright, but I had to handle the task of remembering the 100s as I crossed each one of them. It taxed my memory cells, but then why not use it to my advantage I mused and kept at it. It helped keep all the random, uninvited guests of my mind, the thoughts at bay! I had to focus harder than I had to in the other method, but again it was a challenge I took up and it worked!

The other method is to count your steps for every breath cycle. Inhale for four steps and exhale for four steps. This method helps you keep a steady speed, however you may have to reorient and synchronise if you happen to increase or decrease your speed. Those who are well versed with breath control and Yoga may do well with this, while beginners may find it stressful to follow it to the T. Exhaling is often longer than inhaling, hence some may find respite in 2 or 3 counts of inhaling and 4 counts of exhaling.

Breathwalking is simple and fun. Once you get it right, it can pave the path to physical and mental fitness. A lot of competitive and non-competitive sports and fitness trainers insist on and inculcate breath control to improve athletic performance. Paying attention to the flow of breath while letting go of other thoughts that command your consciousness can be very uplifting. Anyone can do it anywhere, even if you are taking a walk in your compound. It is of tremendous help to the elderly when they get worked up. Teach them breathwalking, it will do them a world of good.

A 2007 study published by the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that breathwalking had a positive effect in patients suffering from chronic hepatitis C, obesity and insulin resistance.

Meditative breathwalking is a union of three rhythms – stepping, breathing and mental counting. Enough to calm down a chattering mind and appreciate the present moments. Fitness and wellness are all about sharing, your feedback and comments could give me new perspectives. Till then, wishing you wellness!

Sources : World Journal Of Gastroenterology , Kundalini Research Institute

Exfoliation And Anti-ageing : Be Your Own Beautician With These DIY Tips

We Need Exfoliation However Young Or Beautiful We Be

Old replaces new is the universal law and that applies to our skin too. Yes, its exfoliation time and we are talking anti-ageing. Skin cells of the outermost layer of our skin the epidermis, or more specifically the ‘stratum corneum’ have a life span and after they have served their purpose need to be shed. This isn’t the first time you are reading that our body is gifted with a mechanism to do away with dead skin cells. Neither is the knowledge that dead skin cells are replaced by new ones foreign to any of us.

But what may have slipped the attention of some of you is that with age, cell turnover in our bodies slows down. Dead skin cells fail to fall off and start accumulating in thin layers, giving our skin a dull look and robbing us of that natural glow that every healthy skin is entitled to. Also a sign of ageing. Cell turnover that used to occur once every 15 days when we were younger, is brought down to once every 50 days when we reach our fifties. Our skin begins to tell certain tales that we would most like to hide, that of our age.

Time to take action, time to exfoliate and reveal fresh, glowing skin. To feel and look beautiful even after you step into your forties and march on into a couple of more decades, just as confident. We are taking our skin matters into our own hands and graduating to becoming our own beauticians. We are on the road to anti-ageing.

Its not just dead skin cells we scrub away when we exfoliate, we are also dislodging all the dirt, sebum and bacteria that get trapped in our pores. We live in a hot and humid tropical country, with most cities clouded by pollution. Hence, it’s absolutely imperative that we keep our skin squeaky clean. See what Ole Henriksen, the skin-care honcho has to say of exfoliation.

Did you know (superficial) exfoliation can start as early as the age of 15? Medical exfoliation is another story and can wait till the age of 18.

What Are The Exfoliation Solutions Available ?

  • OTC peels, scrubs and cleansers.
  • Salons and derma clinics with their mechanical and chemical peels and facials.
  • Home made DIY scrubs and face packs.
  • Face brushes to be used along with skin products.

Now exfoliation is a delicate job and needs a good understanding of when and how much is safe or good for our skin. We do not want to irritate our skin more than it is already, due to ageing and environmental factors. As Dr Jamuna Pai, India’s leading medical cosmetologist puts it, there is a certain hierarchy to exfoliation that is to be followed.

  • Superficial (mechanical/DIY) exfoliation
  • Medium Depth (salons ) exfoliation
  • Deep (medical) exfoliation.

Superficial, or mechanical exfoliation is the simplest of the three and can be carried out at home by us, using home-made exfoliation solutions, or OTC cleansers and scrubs. It removes the oldest and most superficial skin cells that cling to the epidermis. Most often, a superficial exfoliation suffices if we have been taking good care of our skin with a proper diet and a good amount of exercising. Salons and clinics can be reserved for treatments that need expertise and precision. Hence this blog post does not include medium depth and deep exfoliation.

Superficial exfoliation should be done once every 7-10 days if you have normal or combination skin and twice in the same time frame if you have oily skin.

All it takes is 10-15 minutes of your time from start to finish. A few kitchen ingredients and one or two mixing cups and bowls. It’s certainly a bit of work vis-a-vis picking up a vial off the shelf, but it is work that is fun and therapeutic. The satisfaction of having worked magic on your skin! No chemicals leaching into your system and no shelling out bills at the store counters. Environment-friendly and pocket-friendly! Anti-ageing at your fingertips. Is that enough reason for you to turn to home-made skin solutions? I have been using lemons and tomatoes extensively for their Vitamin C content, but more on that in another blog devoted to the benefits of Vit C.

And just in case you thought only your facial skin needs exfoliation, no ! Treat the rest of the skin on your body equally well. But do remember, facial skin is a lot more sensitive and thinner than the rest of your skin. It is also the first to show signs of ageing. So use scrubs that are particularly meant for the face and some others that can be used on the rest of the body. Elbows, knees and feet tend to be drier and darker than the rest of the body due to continuous surface contact friction and need an extra rub of exfoliation, but do not forget to moisturise the areas soon after.

Blanket Tips :

  • Moisten the skin always, never exfoliate dry skin. (Some on the internet will tell you that it is okay to do so, but pop that question to your dermatologist or beautician and they will gainsay it. Go with what your doctor says).
  • If you opt for OTC products, remember to go in for pharmaceutical products.
  • Having your own dermatologist to consult is as important as having a family physician.

How To Exfoliate ?

  • Moisten the skin.
  • Scoop out a good amount of the exfoliating product in your hand or in a cup and layer it all over the required skin area. Gently rub in circular motions for a few minutes. Leave it on if recommended, else wash it off with tepid water.
  • Pat dry with a soft towel.
  • Apply gentle pressure, just enough for the product to do its job.
  • Caution : Avoid exfoliation immediately before, or after any skin treatment.

There you go, you are now your own beautician, armed with the biggest tool of anti-ageing.

Facial Cleansing Brushes :

I  consulted Dr Vidya Ram Pradeep, an eminent dermatologist of Chennai before using one and got a go ahead signal to do so. But exercising caution while using a facial cleansing brush is of utmost importance as otherwise we are likely to cause damage to our skin. Specially those who have sensitive skin must use the brush sparingly or avoid it completely, she says.

Why Facial Cleansing Brush ?

  • Because it helps exfoliate a tad more efficiently. The soft gentle bristles of the facial brush scrape away any dead skin cells that may be clinging stubbornly to the skin.
  • An added benefit is the gentle massage a facial brush affords you, thereby improving blood circulation to the facial skin.
  • It is also known to aid collagen production due to its massaging action. My personal experience has been that of a newly found smoothness my skin acquired and yes, it felt good.
  • An extended benefit of using a facial brush is that when our skin is really clean, the serums and moisturisers get absorbed much better giving skin that dewy look.
  • A skin that looks radiant and healthy needs little makeup, do you agree? Can I let you in on a simple secret on what makes our skins glow? Light!! With dead skin cells on the surface, our skin does not reflect light. When we exfoliate, it’s a voila moment – our skin reflects light and pat comes that glow!

Men have started using facial cleansing brushes too, grooming is on the top of the list in todays’s evolved population. Anti-ageing is not just for women!

There are innumerable options in facial cleansing brushes. You can buy them at your neighbourhood cosmetics stores, or order them online. But do read up before you invest in one. Depending on your needs and skin type, you can spend a few hundreds to a few thousands. But it is wise to start small if you have never used one before. Buy an inexpensive good brand of facial cleansing brush for starters, and as you get the hang of it you could invest in one that is multi-functional – providing exfoliation as well as massaging. Many popular brands like Clinique and Sephora come with multiple attachments that include a massager. Here is one (Pixnor) that I use regularly and can be ordered online. It serves the purpose.

People with sensitive or problem skin can avoid facial cleansing brushes. Dr Vidya Ram Pradeep adds a word of caution while using them though. Hygiene must score highest, she says. Facial brushes are to be cleaned thoroughly after every use, dried and stored in a clean pouch or box.

She also advised on being careful while using facial cleansing brushes, or any kind of scrubs and peels on acne prone skin. Acne must be allowed to settle before resorting to any kind of scrub. We must let the skin heal before we peel !

More on scrubs

Me : Are traditional, home-made scrubs better than OTC packaged or pharmaceutical scrubs ?

Dr Vidya : It is more a case of being safe rather than being termed better. Home made scrubs put together from kitchen ingredients work well, but you always run the risk of breakouts if you have sensitive skin and if hygiene is not maintained. A lot of research goes into pharmaceutical products, hence there are lesser chances of your skin reacting adversely to the products. However, if you do not have problem skin and are careful, home made scrubs are all time favourites of all beauty enthusiasts.

Some Home-made Scrubs

Oats, sugar granules, gram flour (besan) and Fuller’s earth (multani mitti) are some kitchen ingredients that are easily available in most homes. Lime and tomato juices, honey, turmeric, rose-water, milk powder, egg yolk, egg white and yogurt are options that you can mix with the former to make a scrubbing paste, depending on your skin type.

Reveal plumper, younger skin with these home-made scrubs :

Normal Skin : 1 tbsp crushed oats, 1 tbsp rose-water, 1/2 tsp honey. Make a smooth paste of these, apply and rub gently, leave it on for 10 minutes. Wash off with cool water and pat dry.

Dry Skin : 2 tbsps honey, 2 tbsps castor oil, 1 tbsp crushed oats. Make a smooth paste of these, apply and rub very gently. Leave it on for 5-7 minutes, wash off with cool water and pat dry.

Oily skin : Cut a medium size tomato into half, dip the cut side into a small dish of sugar, rub on wet skin for 5 minutes. You may have to dip the tomato into the sugar dish a couple of times to complete the scrubbing. Splash face with cool water and pat dry. Tomato is full of an anti-oxidant called lycopene. The sugar granules get the tomato to release more lycopene into the skin to work wonders.

Make a paste of 1/2 tsp lime juice, 1 tsp sugar, 1-1/2 tsps milk powder or Fuller’s earth. Apply, rub gently, leave it on for 10 minutes and wash off with cool water. Pat dry.

Add 1/2 tsp turmeric to 1 tbsp honey, mix well, apply, rub gently and wash off with cool water. Pat dry.

Combination Skin : Combination skin needs a little extra attention as you are likely to have two zones on your face, one oily (nose, chin and forehead) and the other slightly dry (cheeks). Mix 1 tsp fine sugar with 1 tsp oats and a little water. Scrub your face, concentrating on the T zone. Leave it on for 10-12 minutes. Wash it off with cool water. Dab the skin then with rose-water or an oil-free moisturiser.

This blog post would run into pages if I were to list all the recipes that I have with me, hence have jotted just a few. If you need more specific ones, leave behind a note and your email ID in the comments and I shall forward them to you.

Here are a few body scrubs  from Astrea that are home-made with natural ingredients. I met the entrepreneur of this enterprise at an organic growers meet and tried out these products, purely because they do not contain any synthetic components. Skin felt smooth and supple for days after the scrub.

Sweet Orange Sugar Scrub
astrea sweet orange sugar body scrub, my thought lane

Sweet Orange Sugar Body Scrub from Astrea

While orange oil has a plethora of uses and benefits, when added in scrubs, creams and lotions, it stimulates the lymphatic system and helps detoxify the skin. It helps improve blood circulation, is a natural anti-bacterial, decreases wrinkles and improves the complexion. The scrub is a happy combination of sweet orange essential oil, almond oil, sugar and natural preservatives. It can be a boon to the relatively drier areas of knees and elbows – an extra scrub will still be safe.

Coffee Vanilla Body Scrub :
astrea coffee vanilla body scrub, my thought lane

Coffee Vanilla Body Scrub by Astrea

Coffee seems to be a boon to the skin, with its anti-inflammatory, skin tightening, skin brightening, skin softening and exfoliating properties coupled with cellulite reduction and treating dark under eye circles. While we have many products for skin smoothing et al, I picked up this scrub for coffee’s ability to dehydrate fatty cells thereby causing the cellulite to appear diminished. Coffee granules, almond oil, sugar, vanilla extract and natural preservatives have gone into this scrub to make it a wonder product. The recommended period for using a scrub is 7-10 days, but if it is cellulite you are working on, you could use it twice a week just on the affected area.

astrea peppermint sugar body scrub

Peppermint Sugar Body Scrub by Astrea

Peppermint Sugar Body Scrub :

Like coffee, peppermint is on the top of the essential oils list, but the one thing that drew me to this body scrub is its pain killing and muscle relaxant properties. It is known to soothe sore muscles and relieve headaches. A study shows that peppermint oil applied topically alleviates Fibromyalgia and Myofascial pain Syndrome. To top it all, it elevates your moods and that makes it a super scrub. Guess it does wonders to use this after a killer workout at the gym ! Smells good and feels good.

You know something? Exfoliation can remain your beauty secret, no one will know whats behind the glow on your face. Really, its most effective, yet absolutely subtle, carried out in the privacy of your bathroom. Even your partner need not know about it. Just smile and take it if people compliment you on your healthy fresh skin. You have just exfoliated and you been your own beautician !  And yes, with the onslaught of pollution and lifestyle stresses, we got to take anti-ageing seriously.

Leave behind a comment if you have seen stunning results with exfoliation.

Gait Analysis Will Help You Choose The Right Workout Shoes And Stay Safe

I was introduced to gait analysis by Dr Kannan Pugazhendi, the eminent sports medicine specialist of Chennai, and since then I have never bought workout shoes sans the gait analysis. He strongly advises on making right and sensible choices when it comes to sports and fitness gear, before we invest our several thousands on them, with special emphasis on shoes. Rightfully so, since our feet have the crucial task of bearing our body weight while we run, or sweat it out in the gym.

Very often people buy walking/running/workout shoes based on their budget. Next on priority comes the look or style of the shoe as well as the comfort. It is not enough if the shoe fits you snugly. We do not all have perfect feet, some are over pronated and some under. Each requires a shoe that can offer support to specific affected parts of the foot. This is where professional gait analysis steps in to help avoid injury and optimise performance. Wrong or ill-fitting workout shoes can be trouble-makers leading to foot, ankle and knee aches and pains, not to mention the concomitant lower back pain that follows knee pain faithfully like a bad coin ! Read here on why it is important to choose proper shoes while exercising in any form.

Years ago I used to get the foot scan done at Adidas, for that was the only option available at that time. It was pretty basic. In recent times, however Running Lab has come to Chennai and the Asics flagship stores are equipped with gait analysis system. Of the two, I prefer the Asics stores. Their staff is better trained to do the gait analysis and their system is more advanced and detailed. While the general term is gait analysis, Asics calls it the FOOT ID. I have reproduced here their official description of the process.

“ASICS FOOT ID is a destination area of the ASICS shop offering static and dynamic measurements, including foot shape analysis and gait cycle analysis. ASICS FOOT ID static measures the foot shape and ASICS FOOT ID dynamic analyzes the consumer’s gait while running”.

What Is Gait Analysis ?

Gait analysis measures the degree of pronation of the feet. When we walk or run, the outside part of the heel strikes the ground first. Simultaneously, within fractions of a second, the foot rolls inward and that is called ‘pronation’. Pronation acts like a shock absorber and optimally distributes the force and impact of the heel hitting the ground.

Over-pronation is when the feet roll inward too much.

Under-pronation (or supination) is where the feet don’t roll inward enough.

So, what gait analysis does is that it matches the client’s degree of pronation with the correct shoe type, thereby balancing over or under-pronation. That in turn helps reduce the risk of injury and improves walking/jogging/running efficiency.

Gait analysis is helpful for runners as well as those that indulge in indoor workouts. It is extremely important for people who walk/run on treadmills. Here is how the process goes.

I went through similar here at the Asics store in Express Avenue and here are the pictures.

asics gait analysis system, my thought lane

Gait Analysis treadmill and the six step guide

After I filled in my registration form, the laser sensors were pasted at specific points on my feet and the static foot analysis was conducted, one foot at a time.

static foot analysis, my thought lane

Static foot analysis

The results showed like this

WHAT IS VIDEO GAIT ANALYSIS?

A pair of test shoes were then given to me and I had to walk/run on the treadmill with those on.

dynamic foot analyser video

Tester shoes and dynamic foot analyser video

It involves running for a few minutes on the treadmill, while a video recording is made of the runner’s feet. I did a brisk walk. I have a knee injury and hence didn’t opt to run. In conclusion, the static and dynamic test results were analysed digitally and here is the story it told me about my feet.

(One can then try a variety of shoes selecting cushioning, structured cushioning or maximum support options according to the results.)

gait analysis sampler, my thought lane

Gait Analysis sampler

A model of an indoor workout shoe (since I am not a runner and indoor gymming is what I do) was then suggested to me based on the results above. Syed Noor, the store manager explained to me on what my feet demanded, and why that particular model of shoe would do me good. It offered support at the arches of my feet and yes, it felt better than my previous shoes that had probably been worn out – they were a year old or a little more than that.

asics store manager showing the recommended shoe model

When the store manager suggested the recommended shoe model

How To Avail The Gait Analysis

There is a fee of INR 500 towards the gait analysis which is reimbursed when you buy a pair of shoes from the Asics store. If that does not fall under your scheme of things, you can avail the gait analysis for the fee and buy shoes of your preferred brand.

If you havent paid attention to gait analysis in all these years, it is time to do so. Our feet do not like being messed with and deserve all our attention and more to keep them supple and conditioned, strong and efficient. Choose your workout shoes right and stay safe ! Wishing Wellness !

Anti-ageing Tips : How To Slow Down Ageing

Show your skin some love

If you are 25 and even an hour older, you need to read this article and start paying attention to skin care. Ageing of the skin takes baby steps and sets in at 25. Wait……no panic yet, but most people are unaware of this skin fact. They wait till the 30s to even start noticing changes in their skin. Having established this research backed fact, I wish to suggest small ways of slowing down ageing in a series of articles on anti-ageing. Very often, we get loaded with far too much information on such topics and tend to miss out or forget some tips. Hence, I am dealing with one important anti-ageing DIY tip in each article. Anti-ageing products and procedures are galore and using them is a personal choice, but there is something in our power even when adopting them that can help make the effort worthwhile and get better results.

How To Apply Serums And Creams The Right Way

I have seen many rub their skin while applying any topical solution. ‘That is a mistake‘ we have been told repeatedly, yet we forget the words of caution – rub and scrub, especially when we are in a hurry. Time to stop doing that folks. Time to pamper your skin the right way. Time to take anti-ageing into your hands !

  • Take the required quantity of the topical application you are using in your palm, or the back of your hand, be it a cleanser, a serum, a lotion or a cream.
  • Dip your fingertips into it and dab it on the surface of your skin. With gentle, upward strokes spread it all over your face or whichever part of the body you are applying it on. Now the natural tendency of many, is to rub it in, especially when they are in a hurry. Your skin may be crying for mercy, not to pull and push so much, to be treated with a little more care. So….
  • Slow down….instead, pat the product gently and repeatedly all over your face. Cup your face with your palms and gently act like you are pushing the product into your skin, till all of it is absorbed. Did you see some happy skin there? You just did some anti-ageing act! You showed your skin some love♥.

Watch this quick video on the technique by Chennai’s leading makeup artist Akriti Sachdev of Mesmereyes Makeup, created specially for My Thought Lane

Most Important : Serum, Under Eye Cream, Moisturizer and Sunscreen in that order. Apply your first topical application quickly after you tap dry your face and while the skin is still moist. It will help seal in the moisture in the epidermis (topmost layer of skin) and lend a soft glow to your face.

Why Pat And Not Rub :

While those in their late 20s can still take it easy, once the 30s set in skin starts losing its firmness, tone and elasticity.  Very fine lines make their appearance giving you an indication that skin is losing its toning and you better wake up to it. With natural ageing and the aggression of external factors like the sun and the weather, collagen and elastin production in the skin (the backbone of a firm skin) slows down, resulting in loss of firmness. And do not forget that gravity never fights shy of doing it s job ! Added to all of this, if you were to rub or pull your skin, you are playing host to sagging skin for sure. Think anti-ageing ! Even if you were to sweat like a pig during, or after your walks and workouts, still pat your face with a soft napkin and never rub.

Why Pat Or Tap Cream Into The Skin:

We all of course know that ageing alters blood circulation within the body. Poor blood supply means lesser oxygen. Patting and tapping can alleviate that to some extent by increasing blood circulation to those areas, thereby lending better health to your skin.

Not fair that the first signs of ageing appear on that part of the body that we treasure most, the face. Even more unfair that the best part of our face, the eyes take the brunt of ageing first. We cannot fight nature, but we certainly can take anti-ageing into our own hands and slow it down.

Do You Believe In The Healing Power Of Your Hands ?

Adding a layer here to the benefits of patting the product into your skin : Three or four days into this practice, I realised I was feeling good and revelled in the way my skin responded to my hands, with all the patting and tapping. My skin appeared a tad plumped, probably from the pampering it received. Yes, when someone feels loved, they glow ! Go ahead, you try this out too, accept your skin and love it. I would call this anti-ageing at a higher plane.

The contour of the eye has lesser amount of collagen, elastin and lipids and ages faster than the rest of the face. The skin and muscles around the eyes are fragile, it is made so because it does the most muscular work – 10,000 blinks per day !! Had there been tougher skin and muscle, so many blinks would have been an impossibility leading to other eye related issues. If that’s how nature meant it to be, it has also taught us that there is something we can do to slow down the ageing.


Improve blood circulation like we said above.


  • Apply your serum, cream or lotion with your ring finger or the little finger and tap lightly along the eye contour.
  • Press EVER SO GENTLY till the topical application gets absorbed into the skin.
  • Continue tapping lightly on the eye-socket area, along the cheekbone and extend it to the eyebrow bone in a gentle circle.
  • Always from the outer corner of the eye to the inner.

The blood circulation tip given by Dr Vidya Ram Pradeep of Krishna’s Skin Cosmetology & Medical Centre, Chennai is something that we can all practice everyday and anytime of the day. To keep a radiant skin, not just  the under eye area but the rest of the face too.

Do not forget your neck, decolletage and palms, they show signs of ageing next only to the under eye area. Treat them to a gentle application of your serum, or cream and pat and tap like you would your face.

Apply the same technique if you are going to be pampering the rest of your body with oils, creams, or lotions.

Anti-ageing In The Shower

pat dont rub skin mantra

The skin-mantra

 

Oh yes, anti-ageing has become a part of your life now. So, while you cleanse your face with a face wash and your body with a shower gel, use circular motions for application and once you are rinsed, remember to pat yourself dry all over with a soft absorbent towel. If you are one of those that cannot do without rubbing yourself dry (it’s just a habit, you can grow out of it) or are in a rush, just remember to run your towel ever so gently in upward strokes and never down. We are not lending a hand to gravity in letting our skin sag !

Additional tip : Apply your face wash on wet skin gently and in circular motions, massage your skin (without rubbing) with the product for 10 secs or more. Give the product enough time to work on your skin and do its job. Opt for a pharmaceutical product that suits your skin, consult a dermatologist. If you are looking for a good face wash, refer to my earlier post on Glogeous Advanced Face Wash Gel

Video Credits : Thank you Akriti Sachdev

There is beauty in wellness and ageing gracefully with minimum damage to the skin requires an effort, the results of which will stay with you much into older years. So lets make anti-ageing and slowing it down fun. So feedback time, like it if you did and share a view or two.

Ciao till the next anti-ageing tip…….

Muscle Training Basics And Tips For Beginners

Why Muscle Training ?

Muscle training or resistance training is even more important than cardio training. We can manage to get cardiovascular workouts through several activities like walking, swimming, cycling, trekking et al. But muscle training is what is going to hold us in good stead as we progress in age. Our bones are bound by muscles and give our bodies the shape that we all dream of, that shape that we sometimes envy on others.

Image courtesy : livestrong.com

Note : The words strength training, resistance training and muscle training are used interchangeably. Resistance training increases muscle strength by making your muscles work against a weight or force. Different forms of resistance training include free weights, weight machines, resistance bands and your own body weight.

This blog post is the result of a query of a 23-year-old in the gym a few days ago. Her goal was to shed weight and slim down. My question, “how about muscle training” got her eyebrows up in wonder with a counter question, “isn’t muscle training for men only?” And then “can you help me with some basics if I have to do strength/muscle training?” I felt sad that even in these days of burgeoning fitness information on the net and social media, this young thing still remained seeped in that muscle myth. Hope this helps those like her. I have taken a lot of inputs from the American College of Sports Medicine to tabulate the following tips.

Generally healthy populations overlook the importance of resistance training, but the truth is that they need it too. For these reasons :

  • It increases the amount of muscle and elevates bone density in young adults.
  • Resistance training benefits both men and women with a sculpted and toned appearance.
  • In older adults, resistance training helps offset age related bone loss. It helps develop and maintain the strength and ability necessary to complete daily activities as well as fitness programs.
  • For all individuals, strength training allows more ease in daily activities and instills confidence and pride.
  • It enhances moods by releasing endorphin hormones.

How To Muscle Train ?

All beginners, make these your goals :

1) Learning the fundamental exercises correctly

2) Preventing injury by keeping proper form

3) Designing a program that will encourage adherence.

  • Begin with resistance training about twice or thrice a week and allow a day of rest between workout days.
  • Initial muscle soreness is inevitable for beginners..
  • Rest and recovery is crucial.
  • Proper warm-up is most essential. Five to 10 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise followed by gentle dynamic stretches.

In the beginning, any stimulation is progress.

Image courtesy : Internet

  • Do not get stressed with the amount of weight, number of repetitions, or number of sets at first. They can wait for later.
  • Focus more on learning and executing proper exercise technique.

Your muscles are not the only tissues being strengthened. Connective tissues, such as tendons and ligaments also adapting to the strain of the new workout. Your muscles will be the first to feel stronger after starting a training program, but your tendons need a few weeks to adapt to the new muscle activity and strength.

  • Injury in the first weeks is very likely if your focus is on increasing the weight instead of learning correct technique.
  • Give yourself as many sets and repetitions as you need to learn technique. Ask for proper supervision.
  • Avoid getting overly fatigued, mentally or physically, in this phase.
  • You cannot attain perfection on the first day. Stop an exercise if you become frustrated.
  • Tip : In the first three weeks perform one set with weights that will allow 12-15 repetitions. In the next few weeks progress to two to three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.
  • Not all exercises require the same number of sets in a workout.
  • Heavier weights need longer rest periods.
  • One or two minutes of rest for light weights.
  • Two or three minutes for moderate weights.
  • More than three minutes for heavier weights.
  • Look out for signs of fatigue and adjust rest period lengths.
  • If dizziness or nausea occurs, it is time to stop the workout.
  • Increase the rest period, decrease the weight or sets.
  • Fatigue within prescribed ranges is natural, pain is not.
  • Relook at your technique or consult a medical practitioner.
  • Avoid temptation to do too much too soon. It can demotivate you or injure you.

How To Choose Muscle Training Exercises

Your choice of exercise must depend on your body type and condition, previous injuries, and flexibility. Focus on exercise technique and activating specific muscle groups.

  • You could start each training day with multiple-joint leg exercises (squats or lunges). These exercises activate a better hormone response than upper-body exercises.
  • In most individuals, these movements performed correctly, are safe, can improve coordination and prevent injuries from everyday activities.
  • Next, exercises that target the chest (i.e. bench press) and shoulders (shoulder raise) can be paired with exercises that target the back (seated rows and lateral pull-downs).
  • Abdominal and lower-back exercises help build stability and support. The bridge pose (top of a push up) or the bird-dog exercise top the chart.
  • A total body exercise program could look like this :

1) Proper leg presses or squats, dead lifts or leg curls, knee extensions (for those with healthy knees).

2) Bench press, horizontal rows, crunches (for those with a healthy lower back, and always balanced with lower-back exercise).

3) Lateral pull-downs, shoulder presses, arm curls, triceps extensions, and calf raises.

  • Beginners, performing a total-body workout may not take more than 45 minutes. It depends upon the rest period length and number of sets.
  • To progress, beginners can experiment with repetition ranges and increasing weights. Your muscles need to be pushed to do better.
  • After about nine workouts or three weeks, alternate heavier weight days with lighter weight days.

1) You could do sets of 12-15 repetitions, 8-10 repetitions, 4-6 repetitions, and back to 12-15 again.

2)Days with fewer repetitions can take more weight. On a 4-6 repetition day, lift a weight that you would be unable to, more than six times (or fewer than four).

  • But remember to maintain proper technique when increasing resistance from one day to the next.
  • In the learning phase of a training program, make sure a certified personal trainer monitors you.
  • Be it weights or machines, a certified trainer can guide you and help you.
  • Many free heavy weight exercises (particularly bench press) should never be done without a spotter.

Finding an exercise program that you can consistently perform is the key to effective strength training. Resistance or strength training is guaranteed to keep you fit and physically independent for the most part. With focus and emphasis on the fundamentals and basics, it can be rejuvenating and rewarding.

Caution : Beginners, please start your muscle training under the supervision of certified trainers.

Image courtesy : Internet. Working out under the watchful eyes of trainer

Do not attempt workouts on your own with charts downloaded from the internet or follow instructions from books blindly. We are all in a rush today, want quick results and turn to Google for anything and everything. Unfortunately, there are some areas like fitness and nutrition where Google can only give us pointers. Educate yourself and then take expert or professional help.