This post is written in partnership with The Ayurveda Experience. They’re dedicated to making Ayurveda more accessible to everyone and using only quality, authentic, healthy ingredients. We’re honored to work with them. ~ed.
“I need to just…retreat!” I exclaimed to my life coach.
I wanted the rainforest behind me and the ocean ahead of me, so I’d have nothing to do except walk or swim or do yoga or sit down and read a damn book.
A couple more soul-searching questions from my coach, and what I discovered is that I was really looking for ritual in my life—a meaningful way to indulge.
“At some point, you have to find a way to build retreat into your everyday life,” my life coach said.
It struck me then, that in every moment, there is an opportunity to make a retreat within ourselves.
I even had one routine already that could easily be re-framed as a momentary retreat: my skincare routine.
The “retreat-ification” of your morning routine
For weeks, I’d been using an Ayurvedic youth serum introduced to me by a colleague—The Ayurveda Experience’s Yauvari Amplified Youth Spring.
The Ayurveda Experience is an authentic, traditional beauty and wellness platform with its roots in the 5000-year-old science of Ayurveda. Their unique blending process is unlike most out there because it follows traditional Ayurvedic practices every step of the way—from the sourcing of its materials to its “processing” procedures, which sound more like granny cooking in the kitchen than Manny manufacturing in the plant.
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Despite that, I’d honestly been mindlessly and hastily applying it in the mornings between jumping out of bed and rushing into work at my living room desk. I’d apply the oil, all the while mentally counting up all the day’s mounting to-dos.
So much hurry, so little presence.
That wasn’t very Ayurvedic of me. There’s a principle that says we ought to do most things one at a time, with full presence, whether it’s eating a meal (no work, no television, no driving, just eating), or giving our skin some tender, oily TLC.
When I’d decided to make the two weeks following my conversation with my life coach an at-home, working retreat, things changed.
For months a simple aventurine Gua Sha stone sat on my bathroom counter. Every now and again, I’d pick it up, blow off the dust bunnies, stare at it, then put it down again. The minutes I’d spend on my face could be “better spent” on one of my dueling work “priorities.” Gua Sha could come later.
Now, while looking for ritualistic moments of retreat to create in my daily life, it struck me that combining my Yauvari Youth Spring application and a Gua Sha routine could easily become a moment of morning retreat.
Put the “Treat” in Retreat with These:
1. Yauvari Amplified Youth Spring
Dew & Youth
2. Kansa Wand for Face + Yauvari Amplified Youth Spring
Relieve & Rejuvenate
3. Sandalwood Rose Age Defying Eye Butter
Superfood for your Under-Eyes
4. Manjish Glow Elixir
Restore & Glow
5. Turmerisa Double-Turmeric Facial Essence
Exfoliate & Clarify
6. Balaayah Black Gram Body Booster
Moisture & Hydration
Intent alone transformed my mornings.
As I applied the oil to my skin, I was more aware of its fragrance than I had been before. There was something floral and yet also peppery about the scent that I found quite pleasant.
It reminded me of my regular, grounding walks along the Hawai’ian shoreline at magic hour, where the fragrant essence of tropical plants enveloped me and calmed my soul—something my spirit, having recently moved to a high desert climate after a year of island living, was sorely missing.
What’s even in this, I wondered.
Frankincense, Neroli and Lime essential oils as well as the natural scent of other goodies like Vetiver, Stone Apple, and Mango Leaf. And that peppery smell? That would probably be the black and long pepper. Mmm.
With a moment of transportation back to evening walks in my favorite archipelago, and presence of mind,, I began my Gua Sha massage. But there’s more than one way to massage a bit more enjoyment into our mornings—two of them actually Ayurvedic, just like my Yauvari Youth Spring oil.
3 ways to transform your morning skincare routine into a momentary retreat.
1. Kansa Massage
When we talk about Kansa massage, we’re talking about massage with the Kansa Wand, which is an Ayurvedic wellness tool said to pre-date even jade rollers and Gua Sha stones.
Kansa massage makes sure to follow what are called marma lines, or Ayurvedic medicinal points that relate to the vata, pitta, and kapha elements within us, which need to be balanced to promote good health.
There are 37 marma points in your head and neck region. The below massage helps to ensure you give some TLC to each of them (1).
Paired with Yauvari Youth Spring, this is pretty much the ultimate anti-aging retreat.
While the serum’s base of Black Gram oil firms and tones to smooth the look of lines and wrinkles, Kansa massage helps relieve tension in the face, and reduces puffiness. And where Yauvari’s turmeric helps heal acne and lightens hyperpigmentation, Kansa is believed to balance the skin’s pH levels.
That, in combination with Yauvari Youth Spring’s two additional base oils of sesame and rice bran, makes the skin appear and feel both glowy, and bouncy. Its benefits have even been proven in clinical trials.
So, now that you know why you should make Yauvari part of your Kansa Massage routine, let’s make that a definite yes:
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The Kansa Massage Morning Retreat
Again, find your centering routine. Because Kansa is a balancing metal, focus your thoughts on channeling a feeling of centeredness throughout your day.
For the Kansa Wand massage, you’re going to focus on circular and zig-zag motions. Again, the magic number here is five.
So, apply a non-acidic oil like The Ayurveda Experience’s Yauvari Youth Spring, to your skin to prepare it for the Kansa massage, and then follow these steps:
1. Massage the center of your forehead between your brows in a circular motion. After five circles, zig zag across your forehead. When you reach your temple, circle there before zig-zagging across to the other temple to duplicate the motion.
2. Include your chest in this massage by making circular motions on your breast bone and zig-zagging across it a couple of times before moving up to the crease between your collar bone and the base of the neck and shoulder. Here’ focus on circular motions.
3. Zig zag up and down the front of your neck. When you reach the back of your ear, massage in a circle, a small zig-zag, or a straight line before moving to straight-line strokes on the under-chin and along the jawline.
4. Massage in circular motions along the corners of your mouth, starting with the area by your cheek, then by your chin. From there, move up to the area along the side of your nose to help expel and relieve stress and inflammation in your sinuses.
5. Swipe under the cheek toward the area above the temple along the hairline in a half-circle motion, then move into an infinity shape made around the eyes and along the cheekbones and forehead.
6. Use the smaller end of your Kansa wand (or a smaller wand altogether) to massage beneath the brow and in the inner corner of your eye, using linear strokes on the longer lines of the area, and circular motions in the inner corner, and if you’re comfortable with it and it feels pleasant, use the wider end of the wand to gently massage the entire socket all at once.
7. Take a pause and close your eyes. Where else do you feel you want a little more Kansa Wand love? Return to those areas and offer them whatever massage motion you feel your body calling for. Just make sure there’s still enough oil lubrication so that you’re not pulling on the skin.
2. Gua Sha Massage
Ahhhhhh! My personal morning retreat. Much like Kansa Wand massage, Gua Sha drains the lymph from our face and promotes a youthful look as we stimulate our lymph nodes to wake up and do their work well throughout the day.
We increase circulation to our face for a healthy, rosy complexion, and we reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Seriously. Combine that with my Yauvari Youth Spring, and it’s to the point where I, usually a make-up person, don’t often feel I need to do anything else to my face before leaving the house.
The Gua Sha Morning Retreat
First, center yourself by taking a moment to pause and connect to your breath. Turn on some ambient sound like an ocean wave track, or just your favorite music, and tap into those good vibes.
Close your eyes, take five deep breaths, and follow these steps:
1, Apply your favorite facial oil (I definitely suggest The Ayurveda Experience’s Yauvari Youth Spring for its nourishing yet age-defying benefits and effects). Place one to two drops on your palms and gently dab them onto the skin of your face, neck, and décolleté.
2. Disperse the oil by rubbing your hands in gentle, upward- and outward-moving strokes, moving from the base of the back of your neck to your hairline, your collar bone to your jaw line, then out from the center of your face toward each side of it.
3. Keeping the desired edge of your Gua Sha stone at about a 15-degree angle (nearly flat), slowly, sensually, massage in vertical lines upward from the center-left or center-right of the base of your neck to your hair line using gentle to medium pressure. Continue this same movement moving toward the front of your neck.
From here, forward, all strokes will be repeated five times.
4. Staying on the same side of your face, use your Gua Sha stone to massage along the jawline from the center of your chin to just below the ear. Next, move upward to the area just below your lips and repeat the same outward motion.
5. Move to the side of your nose and take five tiny strokes upward along the crease of your nostril before massaging in long, slow strokes along the space below your cheekbone, then above it.
6. Return to your nose and give a few gentle strokes along the length of your nose from just above the curve of your nostril to the corner of your eye. Then, very gently, massage from the outward corner of your eye where your cheekbone joins your eye socket, in toward the inner corner of your eye.
7. Move to the upper part of the eye just below the eyebrow, this time returning to the center-to-outward motion you started with along the jawline.
8. Repeat the outward motion on the forehead, from the center out. Move up the forehead until you reach the hairline.
9. Move to the back of the neck and repeat the whole process on the second side.
3. Abhyanga Massage
If you’re looking for a little more of a retreat and you have some time (perhaps on a quiet weekend day) Abhyanga’s what you’re looking for—whether given by someone else (as in the above video) or to yourself (as instructed below).
You can use a Kansa wand for this, or just your own two hands.
With Abhyanga, we apply The Ayurveda Experience’s Balaayah Black Gram Body Booster oil to the whole of our body, loving on all its marma points.
It’s quite indulgent, but let’s be honest: you deserve it, or you wouldn’t be here. So, put some time on the calendar to give this a shot—like, this weekend.
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The Abhyanga Self-Massage Morning Retreat
Start by putting on some soothing sounds. I plan on giving myself an Abhyanga massage this weekend, and I can already tell you that my tunes of choice will be my Singing Bowls playlist. Then, follow this step-by-step guide:
1. Pour 1/2 cup oil in a clean, empty shampoo or squeeze bottle (or if you’re eco, pour it into a clean glass liquid soap dispenser). Place the bottle in a pot of hot water until the oil is warm.
2. Apply the oil to your head and face, spending a whole couple of minutes on your scalp and pulling gently at the roots of your hair. Take your time. Don’t rush. Savor. Follow the same process as the Kansa Wand facial massage for this.
3. Continue to your forehead, cheeks, and jaws—and don’t forget the ears. Get behind them, along their edges and ridges, and spend some extra time on our earlobes, even dipping your finger gently into your ear canal.
4. Massage your arms and legs in long, broad linear strokes, stopping at the joints to move in circular medial motions toward the heart. Move up the inside of the limbs, and down the outside.
5. Migrate the massage to your neck and shoulders before moving on to your your chest and abdomen, moving in clockwise and circular strokes. On your trunk, massage inward along your ribs. On the abdomen, follow the path of the large intestine; moving up on the right side of the abdomen, then across, then down on the left side.
6. Continue to your back and butt.
7. Massage your feet, including your toes and soles.
Relax for 10 minutes. Perhaps enjoy Savasana and let your body surrender into the relaxation, while your skin drinks in the oil. Then, take a warm bath or shower, and use a gentle cleanser to remove the oil.
So there you have it: three ways to transform your morning skincare from a routine into a retreat that’s sure to set the day off straight.
A word of advice: be sure to offer yourself compassion at this time.
When it comes to shifting our morning mindset from one of rushing to one of retreat, we may find we’re not excellent at managing our time (ahem—c’est moi!). Perhaps we intend to indulge in our ritual but wake up too late and are disappointed, left craving the self-nurturing. Maybe we went for it, and arrived a little late for work.
Even retreat, as a practice, can never be truly perfect. So embrace your best, and enjoy the rest—whenever it finally happens.
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