Good Digestion, The Best Beautician Money Can Buy


By Kellen Brugman on August 23, 2012

Sophia Loren, one of the world’s most beautiful women and who has a radiant youthful complexion at age 77 once said, “beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes.” To put an Ayurvedic spin on her statement, beauty is how you feel and function inside, and it reflects in your skin.

Beautiful skin is radiant, smooth, well hydrated, and even colored. It has firm elasticity with few wrinkles. What exactly is the secret of ageless beauty? Modern science and the cosmetic industry market beauty as something that can be found in a bottle or created by a surgical procedure. However according to Ayurveda, the secret of ageless beauty relates to the internal balance of one’s digestion, immunity, and state of mind.

Oh, the Elixir of Ojas!

The outer glow of clear, youthful skin is directly related to the inner fire of one’s agni. Agni is the transformational digestive force in the body. It is responsible for the digestion of food, assimilation of nutrients into the body’s tissues, the elimination of waste products, and the production of ojas. According to Ayurveda, ojas is a refined biological substance that is the end-product of healthy digestion. Ojas is the master biochemical substance underlying higher states of consciousness. These higher states are strongly balancing to mind and body and have significant benefits for health. Signs of healthy agni are signs of ojas: they include physical vitality, mental clarity, strong immunity, balanced emotions, and radiant skin.

Ojas is a superfood elixir for immunity and is the vital essence that gives the skin strength and beauty. The quantity and quality of ojas depends on the health of one’s digestive and elimination systems. The skincare products on drugstore shelves, besides having toxic side effects, pale in comparison to the protective and rejuvenating powers of ojas. Ojas is something you can expect to be hearing more and more about as more Americans discover Ayurveda.

Respect Your Agni, Reflect Your Beauty

One’s skin is beautiful because it is healthy. Skin is healthy when the body’s digestive system is balanced. Balance in the digestive system relates to the food one eats and the lifestyle they choose to live. Healthy skin begins within.

There is a computer programming term, GIGO, which means garbage in, garbage out. It not only applies to the processing ability of a computer, but the processing ability of the body and mind. The quality/integrity of the output is directly dependent on the quality/integrity of the input. Consuming junk food, leftovers, soda pop, and excess caffeine stresses digestion and can prematurely age the skin. Likewise, if one is feeding their mind with negative thoughts and living a lifestyle that consists of late nights, frequent happy hours, and constant multi-tasking, the digestive system becomes unbalanced. Poor diet and a high-stress lifestyle cause a build up of ama in the tissues. The result is poor tissue quality, especially in the skin.

Ayurvedic Approach to Beautiful Skin

When it comes to maintaining youthful healthy skin, we can’t turn back the clock. But we can use the time we have now and each day make choices that support healthy skin. Here are some simple and effective ways to look and feel beautiful.

  1. Eat right and be bright. When you ingest organic fresh foods, you invest in your skin. A diet that consists of local organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and energizing proteins like whole milk, soaked almonds, and split mung dal kindles the digestive fire. Here are more tips to support agni.
  2. Support agni and nourish your skin with Digest Tone. This powerful antioxidant is a tonic for the digestive system and an elixir for the skin.
  3. Maintain your skin’s lubrication and collagen levels with Youthful Skin Toner and Youthful Skin Cream.
  4. Integrate yoga, pranayama, and meditation into your daily routine. All support the skin by helping to improve digestion, increase circulation, and lower stress. The Transcendental Meditation® program has been shown to relieve anxiety and promote ojas.

For beautiful skin, there is no such thing as a magical potion or lotion. Rather, it requires maintaining healthy digestion by eating right and managing stress. Beautiful skin begins within. If you learn to tend the home fire of agni, your life will radiate with health, well being, and beauty well into your golden years of life.

Kapha is King of the Road When Balanced

AV on the Road Kapha

by Kellen Brugman for Maharishi Ayurveda on July 26, 2012

In the heat of summer, kapha predominant folks may have a challenging time getting off the couch and leaving the cozy comforts of their air conditioned homes. Due to the qualities of stable, heavy, and dense, a kapha predominant person tends to be more of a homebody. They are not as prone to the travel bug as vata and pitta types. However, the stimulation of new sights and experiences is good for kapha.

Kapha, the dosha made of water and earth, provides the body with lubrication, support, and protection. It creates stability and patience in the mind. The main site of kapha is the lungs, with some of the secondary sites being the sinuses, stomach, and joints. The dosha made up of the most gross of the five elements, kapha is less apt to become unbalanced due to the lifestyle aspect of travelling. The stable and heavy qualities are grounding and offset the mobile, light, and subtle qualities of travelling. Continue Reading »

Pacifying Pitta When Vacations Heat Up


ocean cloud umbrella


by Kellen Brugman for Maharishi Ayurveda Blog on July 22, 2012


With just over a month of summer remaining, many folks are planning family vacations and getaways before school resumes. Or perhaps your staycation includes trips to the local beach or amusement park. Wherever you choose to enjoy the summertime frolics, be sure to take care of your pitta dosha.

Pitta, the dosha made of fire and water, is responsible for digestion and transformation in the body and mind. Its main site is the small intestine. According to Ayurveda, summer is considered pitta season. Both share the same qualities of hot, light/bright, sharp, oily and liquid. Because like increases like, it’s important for pitta predominant folks to keep pitta pacified during summer. In balance, pitta provides strong digestion, impressive organizational skills, and strong stamina. Out of balance, pitta is prone to acid indigestion, excessive sweating, stubbornness, and impatience.

As you prepare for a summer excursion, know what to do in order to keep pitta dosha balanced. When the dosha is in its main site, there is balance and ease in the body and mind. In Ayurvedic travel tips, the goal is to keep the dosha at “home”, while one enjoys time on the road. Continue Reading »

Grounding Vata When You Are on the Move


photo by katie mclean of gypsyeye.com


by Kellen Brugman for the Maharishi Ayurveda blog on July 19, 2012


Summertime is the season of vacations and road trips. It’s a time to embark on new adventures. There is a sense of great excitement and freedom at discovering new places, foods, and customs. Travel stimulates new ideas, creativity, and personal growth. A change of routine and surroundings brings a sense of freshness to our life and relationships.

However, a change of routine also causes irregularity in the body and mind. Due to vata’s inherent mobile quality, travel tends to aggravate the vata dosha. Made up of the air and space elements, vata governs all movement in the body. It’s responsible for movement of the muscles, respiration, heart rate, and the flow of thoughts and emotions. These functions have a natural regular cycle. So, excess movement such as long car rides and airplane travel can upset these functions, causing stress. Continue Reading »

By Kellen Brugman for http://www.mapi.com/blog on July 5, 2012

Neighborhood barbeques, county fairs, and family reunions are sure signs of summer. Hot wings, fried funnel cakes, and Aunt Verna’s jalapeno potato salad fill the plate. It’s common in summertime to take a vacation from the regular diet and indulge in some junk food. After all, hotdogs and apple pie go well with baseball. And the ice cream man is pretty tempting when the temperatures rise. However, too many hot, spicy, and oily foods can cause the digestive fire to sizzle with increased stomach acid. Even too many sweet treats like ice cream and frozen mochas can throw digestion off balance.

Don’t sweat it or fret it, you don’t have to stop, drop, and roll up your picnic. Nor do you have to go cold turkey with your favorite summer snacks. There is a simple and easy way to support and maintain digestion this summer. You can still enjoy the occasional bag of BBQ chips and spicy bean dips with the help of some balancing and cooling herbs. To help maintain a balanced digestive fire, this summer and beyond, take Maharishi Ayurveda’s herbal supplement Aci-Balance. The special blend balances occasional mild acid indigestion. Continue Reading »

“Slowing Down with the Two-Step and Yoga”

A dear friend, the one who meets me in the smile space and manages to give me karmic kicks in the butt without ever leaving a boot print, wants me to teach him how to two-step. It’s an odd request, as folks typically ask for yoga lessons or Ayurvedic consults. However there was a time in my life when I used to regularly do the two-step, tripping the cowboy lights fantastic at a western bar named Lucille’s. Continue Reading »

Simple Ayurvedic Suggestions to Cool the Body and Mind


As Billie Holiday sang, “it’s summertime and the living is easy”. This is unless you happen to experience migraine headaches and with greater frequency during this season. In Ayurveda, the seasons relate to the three doshas – the three mind-body types called vata, pitta, and kapha. Summer is referred to as pitta season. The pitta dosha is associated with the fire element and its qualities are hot, penetrating, bright, and moist. Common summer weather conditions such as intense sunlight, heat, and high humidity are common migraine triggers. Continue Reading »

Photo by Sarah Phipps


Last month I wrote a piece about the Super Moon. I called it “Super Moon Smackdown”, because it was a somewhat intense emotional and spiritual adventure for myself, as well as my clients and friends. Afterwards I mentioned to a friend about forming a women’s full moon gathering. I envisioned a monthly gathering where we can support each other through the emotional tides which often arise during full moons.

The days flew by and before you know it I realized we were on the cusp of another full moon. And not just a full moon, but a full moon eclipse. It was too late to organize a gathering, but I checked in with my friend Szilvia in order to be prepared for and aligned with the planetary alignments. She studies Vedic Astrology and is gifted at offering planetary remedies to help keep the body and mind balanced through times like full moons. I consulted with Szilvia because my intention was to keep the celestial shenanigans to a minimum. So when the first words out of her mouth were, “fasten your seat belt”, I knew I needed more knowledge about the full moon alignment.

According to Ayurveda, we are in constant relationship with the external world. The weather, seasons, and planetary alignments affect our body and mind. When I pack for a trip, I look at road maps and check out the weather forecast, so I can prepare accordingly. Then I pack my bags with stuff that will keep me protected and comfortable. So, it made perfect sense to prepare for this June full moon in a similar way. I sought consultation on the Vedic Astrology maps for planetary alignments. Then I began to pack a charm bag (a physical and energetic first aid kit) of tools and gear which would allow me to enjoy and benefit from the full moon energies.

Vedic Astrology – Heavenly Lights and Insights

Three events are happening during this full moon, which can intensify emotions. They are the full moon, the full moon eclipse, and alignment of moon in Scorpio with Rahu. A Venus transit happens on June 6, but the energies of this once in our lifetime alignment will be felt the days before and after the transit. This seemed like some major galactic goings-on, so I wanted help understanding the astrology. Szilvia is skilled at interpreting the vedic astrology and explaining it in terms which make it easy to understand. She said, “According to Jyotish, the full moon and eclipse will take place in the sign of Scorpio, which can be an intense placement for the moon (the moon signifies our emotions and connections with other people.”)

The other thing Szilvia shared was, “The moon will be sitting next to Rahu, which is an illusionary planet and can bring up illusionary fears. So it is important to be grounded during this time. It is best to be still during this time, and not make any decisions, or act upon any fear, because most likely the fear is based on illusions.”

Preparing to Shoot the Moon with Charm Bags and Lady Caves

Being a moon type, I knew my charm bag now needed to be larger than a carry on size and thoughtfully packed for my full moon adventure. Szilvia is talented at suggesting helpful remedies to balance the energies in the heavens with the energies in the body and mind. She said she put the note “be still” on her desk calendar, and also included yin yoga and extra meditation time.

I was inspired to begin preparing and packing for my full moon adventure. The bottles of sandlewood and jatamamsi (spikenard) came off the essential oil shelf and into my charm bag, so I could use them anytime throughout the day. I decided to run at the beach on Monday. Running has always been a meditative and physical way for my body to flow. To surrender to the flow of life, I made notes to remind myself to do pranayama and meditation twice a day through Wednesday. I thought of favorite songs which calm me, as well as make me want to boogie. I stuck inspirational quotes on my computer. My strand of pearls and white tops were set out for the full moon adventure. According to Ayurveda, wearing pearls and something white on Monday helps to balance moon energy. My charm bag was packed and I felt ready for the full moon adventure.

I thought of Szilvia and my other two girlfriends who were also setting intentions for the full moon and Venus transit experience. Due to our schedules and family commitments, we would not be able to physically get together. It was a comment Szilvia made which sparked an idea. She said, if it was not for her job and fiance, she would retreat into her lady cave until after the full moon and Venus transit. The image of a lady cave, a place of quiet retreat, caught my attention. Later that night, at dinner with another girlfriend, we talked about the full moon energies. Her husband joked that her lady cave could be the RV. Again the image of a lady cave flashed in my mind.

My lady cave would be my tent pitched up in the mountains; however, I could not do that. But a flash of inspiration got me thinking about creating a “cyber lady cave”. Kind of like the bat cave, only cooler. I thought of my girlfriends and how we could stay in touch over the course of the full moon and Venus transit, supporting each other through texts and emails. I suggested we share quotes, insights, songs, and other inspirational tools. It would be a way to receive emotional and spiritual support amidst the course of our day through the full moon and Venus transit days.

There’s A Rad Moon on the Rise

It’s now day two of the full moon and the edge of the Venus transit. My girlfriends and I are encouraging each other as we connect through texts and emails. I feel embraced by their friendships. I feel nourished by the meditation time, yoga, music, and essential oils. This is the first full moon experience I can recall where I’ve maintained the most gorgeous balance in my body, mind, and spirit. Thoughts have been flowing with nonattachment. Feelings and emotions have waxed and waned with the ease of Michael Jackson moonwalking. Creativity has risen in my heart – bright and abundant, like the full moon.

I’ve never felt such a sweet connection with the moon before, which is ironic, because the moon is in my first house – the house of self. I’ve realized by the light of this sweet June moon, I am connecting deeper with my true divine nature. As I’ve opened myself up to understanding the ways of the moon, I’ve opened the path to understanding myself more. It’s like I can see the smile on the moon, reflecting as the smile in my heart. And in a Ralph Kramden voice I hear, “To the moon, Kellen!”  Onward to your true nature! For by the light of the June moonbeams, I’ve realized the greatest light of all is the Light of Pure Awareness. The Light which is always on…steady…whole…full. And it’s only by going inward to the caverns of my soul that I connect with this divine, brilliant, eternal Light.

In appreciation to the great John Fogerty (There’s a Bad Moon On the Rise) and his musical magnificence, I sing this little poem to the full June moon:

I see the rad moon arisin’

I see Venus on the way

I see smiles a brighten’

I see full joy to stay


Don’t know much about astronomy. Don’t know much astrology. Don’t know much about perigee moon. Don’t know much about moon in Scorpio. But I do know this, over the course of the super moon weekend, the energies in the cosmos knocked me out of orbit, in the mental and emotional sense. To put in terms of celestial physics, I was whacked out of a natural balanced state – the place where my life connects me, via a spiritual gravitational pull, to the Divine. Continue Reading »


Off the Grid and On the Mat

Last week a dear one was away for the week surfing in Mexico. It wasn’t until a few days after he left when I texted him, and did not receive a reply that I realized he was off the grid. Being accustomed to exchanging texts almost daily, it felt weird to suddenly be unable to connect with him.

At first glance, I found myself dancing the twist and shout with the Ego mind (imagine the Elaine Benes dance on Seinfeld) because I felt disconnected from my friend. As the Santa Ana winds blew through Santa Barbara, I watched my vata dosha get all wonky (one of the haha gunas) and the next thing I knew, I was feeling lonely and insecure about being out of touch with this dear one. It only lasted a few minutes, but the feeling got my attention. Where the attention goes, prana goes…and the desire to understand such a sudden and irrational feeling. So I asked myself, “why does this feel like such a big deal and what is there to learn from this situation?” Continue Reading »