Almond eyes, lotus feet
The subtleties of ancient beauty. By Denise Leicester
There is a book that reveals the ancient beauty and healing secrets of Indian princesses called ‘Almond Eyes, Lotus Feet’. I love the name because it reminds me of the subtlety of India – knowingly or unknowingly – through its inference to beauty being far more than a physical manifestation.
Let me explain: in the yogic scriptures, the chakra where beauty resides is the Manipura, the solar plexus chakra. Manipura means ‘shining jewel’ in Sanskrit and it is the body’s centre of radiant health and metabolism, boundaries and confidence, strength and beauty. It relates to the element of fire and is also connected to the function of the feet (as in movement, and the desire to assume responsibility for one’s life and drive transformation) and the eyes (through the ability to see the truth of our own purpose as well as the sparkle evident in our eyes when our true beauty shines from within).
To me, as the book moves through a vibrant exploration of the exquisite rituals, ancient remedies and beauty secrets that bonded and beautified the women of the Indian court, it also sends a much deeper message: one of the importance of such beauty rituals to boost the essence within and ignite our vitality and vibrancy through the ties of friendship and faith, ritual and reconnection.
It makes me question what it would be like if – instead of pouring all our energy into external beauty fixes – we directed our awareness inside and invested in the beauty that resides inside each one of us?
surya namaskar (sun salutations) and paschimottanasana (seated forward bend) both energise the Manipura. Nourishing ourselves with vibrant, raw food can also be a beauty routine in its own right (look at raw food chef Mimi Kirk, a breathtaking example of radiant beauty at 74). Even something as simple as treating oneself to a pedicure, reflexology or soothing eye treatment can help boost and nourish our inner fire. Take note of how much better you feel next time you manage to squeeze one in.
One of my favourite tips from ‘Almond Eyes, Lotus Feet’ is for ‘radiant beauty and sparkling eyes’. It recommends making a mask with fuller’s earth (clay), a pinch of turmeric and rose water, and applying it over cleansed skin with cucumber slices pressed on the eyelids. Most of us don’t have servants to then gently massage our feet as we lie down (as the book advises) but a willing partner or a close girlfriend would work equally as well.
Denise Leicester is the founder of ila-spa.com