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September 28, 1999
Mind, Skin and Spirit
When a pimple appears on her face, Kelly Lapman is in deep trouble.
"I refuse to leave the house if I have a pimple on my face," says Lapman, a native New Yorker.
Perhaps Lapman is more of an extremist than most people are. However, acne seems to affect a lot of people on many different levels. For some the appearance of a pimple causes stress and anxiety. Others suffer from severe depression, especially if the acne is a chronic problem. Most of them end up at the supermarkets for an over-the-counter medication. Usually these products have chemicals that could leave the skin scarred.
The scenario above is not uncommon to young women in India where Pratima Raichur worked as a cancer researcher in Mumbai over two decades ago. She recalls how two of her co-workers came in with black patches on their skin complaining that a recent facial had decreased their faith in skin care professionals. Raichur's immediate response: "Why didn't you tell me? I could have given you something."
The next day she gave the two women a plastic bag with special herbs and mixing instructions. A few days later their skin was clear. Ayurveda, the ancient healing art, had come to the rescue.
"I realized how much joy I received seeing those girls happy with themselves again and I knew that Ayurveda was a science I had to study more of," says Raichur, author of Absolute Beauty; Radiant Skin and Inner Harmony Through the Ancient Secrets of Ayurveda.
One of the most successful advocates of the mind-body-health concept, Raichur, who runs the TEJ Ayurvedic Skin Clinic in Manhattan, is a popular lecturer on the holistic health circuit, and has been consulted by a number of top spas in the United States including the Sonoma Mission Inn. Her mantra in treating the skin: Ayurveda never intended a facial to be merely cosmetic -- but rather transformational and permanent
Her book written with Marian Cohn has been widely endorsed and favorably reviewed by many major women's magazines.
'Pratima Raichur is the most incredible healer, combining science and ancient wisdom,' says Felicia Milewicx, beauty and health director, Mademoiselle. 'Absolute Beauty offers all readers the key to her healing touch.'
Deepak Chopra, holistic high priest and author of such bestsellers as The Path to Love and The Seven Laws of Success notes: 'Beauty is the harmonious interactive of elements and forces that comprise the human body, human mind, and human spirit. Pratima Raichur's Absolute Beauty is an exquisite, elegant, and practical book that will help you achieve both inner and outer beauty.'
As a young adult in India, Raichur was trained in the fundamental practice of Ayurveda by her next door neighbor who was a physician. She recalls in the introduction of her book the neighbor saying, 'Today you don't understand the importance of what we are doing, but one day you will have use for all this in your life.'
The advice she was given not only provided a sense of security and personal comfort, but also served as an encouragement to obtain a degree in naturopathy and become a licensed aesthetician.
Raichur, like Dr Chopra, is one of the pioneers in introducing the Ayurvedic secret of life and longevity to the United States.
Her approach to teaching the importance of Ayurveda in daily life came about through a desire that women want beauty and inner peace.
"I felt if I could make women beautiful through natural skin care and help them maintain inner balance of mind, body, and soul, then I have combined two passions in one," says Raichur who is in her mid 50s .
The first few years in the clinic, Raichur treated the clients and provided them with her modest packages of herbs to go home with.
"One day a client recommended that I put my products in a plastic container and sell them." Now Raichur has three product lines, Tej, Bindi, and Ojas. These three product lines consist of vitamin supplements, stress buster, hair and scalp care, digestion and weight balancers, and, of course, skin care. She attacks skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Dosha balancing teas are also offered to balance mind, body, and spirit.
Services at Tej include Ayurvedic consultation, nutritional guidance, meditation instruction, aromatherapy facials, problem skin facials, skin peeling, weight reduction program and waxing. The body balancing treatment massages the entire body with oils. The other body treatment detoxifies and rejuvenates the body's skin.
"There are a few clients who still come to me once a month, who started with me 22 years ago. Most of the clients I see now have come to me by word of mouth," Raichur says.
The clinic employs four people. Its three dimly lit rooms are used to treat the clients in the most relaxing environment possible. While spending time in the waiting room, the client can listen to the sounds of a dripping water plant, look through a realistic picture book of Raichur's skin successes, and sip herbal teas.
The teas are designed for the three types of skin types and inner balance a particular person needs.
"Sometimes I can tell by just looking at a person what they need," says Raichur. The Vata (air) tea for people with small pores and a high level of anxiety reduces stress and helps digestion. Pitta (fire) is for people recognized by their energy and large pores, and Kapha (earth) is for people with oily skin and a calm manner.
"Skin has its own intelligence," she continues. "It feels and it reacts to what is going on internally. If you are angry and do not allow that anger to be expressed, the skin reveals the inner anger by breaking out in a rash. Similarly, if the body is stressed the skin will show that inner stress by breaking out."
The stress and occasional pimple does not compare to woman's biggest fear, the appearance of aging.
"The Ayurvedic lifestyle promotes anti-aging. By learning to accept who we are inside we can relax and hold back the aging process longer," she says.
As a religious person, Raichur speaks about her belief in the afterlife and stresses that beauty plays a role in that afterlife. "When we die we accept that our body leaves us but our soul remains. If you accept that you have an afterlife there is no reason to feel stress about death," she adds. The less stressed, the younger the soul and the less appearance of aging, she says.
Ayurveda is a discipline, Raichur reminds her clients, listeners and readers. While the women seeking beautiful skin or good facials can get them at many places, she says what she offers is more than a facial. Her regimen helps the clients to relax, to have a sense of fulfillment -- and eventually a youthful life. "No one has ever left the clinic unsatisfied," says Raichur.
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