We all know that yoga will make you feel stronger, longer and less stressed…. but did you know it also helps promote healthy skin? Let me be clear — attending one yoga glass is not going to magically clear up your acne or erase your wrinkles. You will, however, leave that one yoga class with naturally glowing skin!
How does yoga promote healthy skin?
- Yoga is a natural stress-reliever. It is important to engage in self-care practices that help us manage our stress, as we all know that stress can cause acne and other skin conditions to flare up.
- Yoga “rinses” out the body, allowing you to release toxins. This is great for your digestive system which is a must for healthy skin.
- Yoga promotes blood and oxygen flow, leaving you with beautifully glowing skin.
Please note that if you have any health issues or are dealing with chronic pain, consult with your doctor before trying yoga. There are many different styles of yoga, and it is important to find the one that is right for you!
If you are dealing with any active inflammatory skin issues, like acne, for example, it is important to wash your face right away. If you are unable to wash right away, always have facial wipes on hand!
Finally, a note about holding poses: the suggested amount of time to hold a yoga pose is just that… a suggestion. Yoga is a personal practice so find what feels good for your body.
Here are six poses that help promote healthy skin:
Tadasana (tah-DAHS-anna) mountain pose: Tadasana may seem like a simple pose but it is the foundation of your whole asana (physical) practice. You are only as strong as your foundation so take your time to build it from the ground up!
Start with your feet hip distance apart (the width of your two fists — take a second to measure, because I promise your hips aren’t as wide as you think they are!). All ten toes should be pointing forward and the feet are parallel. Make sure you can feel all four corners of your feet making contact with the earth and that your weight is evenly distributed evenly.
Thigh bones lift up (but the knees shouldn’t lock out), lower belly draws in and the tail bone tucks slightly.* Keeping that soft engagement, draw the heart forward (like there is a string pulling it up to where your ceiling and wall would meet). Arms come by your side, palms face forward and the shoulders relax away from the ears. Close your eyes and imagine an energetic lift from the arches of your feet all the way up into the crown of your head, becoming the tallest, strongest version of yourself. Take 5-10 rounds of breath.
Benefits: In this pose you are focusing on deep, rhythmic breathing. Breathing exercises get more oxygen flowing through the body which helps flush out toxins and leaves the skin with a healthy glow. The focus on deep breathing will also help relieve stress (and we all know what stress can do to our faces).
*Note: Bring one hand to your lower back and the other to your lower belly. Rock your pelvis forward (so the back arches) and backwards (so the back rounds). Neutral is in the middle.
Uttanasana (OOT-tan-AHS-ahna) forward fold: Start in mountain pose, soften the knees, hinge at the hips and fold your body in half. Legs can be straight if that feels good but if you feel some resistance in the hamstrings soften the knees. Hands and come to elbows (rag doll) or maybe they are more comfortable resting on the earth or even a prop (blocks, books, furniture… whatever you have available). Let the head be heavy — imagine a bowling ball. Close the eyes and take 5-20 full rounds of breath.
Benefits: Increases blood flow to the face and head leaving the skin with a beautiful, healthy glow!
Ardha Matsyendrasana (ARE-dah MOT-see-en-DRAHS-anna) seated twist: Start seated with both legs out in front, a long spine and the belly drawing in and up. Left leg stays where it s as you hug the right knee in towards the chest and sole of the foot comes to the earth. Right fingertips plant behind you as your left arm wraps in front of your shin. Inhale, sit up tall and draw your belly in. Exhale, twist to the right. Take 5-10 full rounds of breath. Repeat on the opposite side.
Benefits: A healthy gut is essential for healthy, nourished skin, and twisting is an excellent way to release toxins from the body and give your gut some good love!
Bhujangasana (boo-jang-GAHS-anna) cobra pose: Start on your belly with the feet hip distance apart and the palms of the hands under the shoulders (they are just making contact with the earth, you are not pressing into the hands0. The lower belly draws in and up as you root down through the pelvis. Actively press down through the tops of the feet. Shoulders will slide together and down the back. With an inhale, lift the head, collar bone and hands. Check in with the neck to make sure you are not straining (the chin should tuck slightly). Take 5-10 full rounds of breath then release one cheek to the earth, arms com by your side and palms face up. Repeat as many times as you feel necessary.
Benefits: Cobra pose will get your heart pumping which, you guessed it, brings oxygen to your skin cells.
*Note: There are many different variations of Cobra. Click here for a great breakdown and to learn how to take it further.
Utthita Trikonasana (oo-TEE-tah trik-cone-AHS-anna) triangle pose: Start in Warrior 2 with your right leg forward (click here to learn how to build Warrior 2). Hips shift towards the back foot as the right arm reaches forward and the sides of the body stay long. When you feel like you can’t reach anymore, the right hand drops down to the shin. The engagement stays in the core — you are not relying on the right hand or collapsing into the right side. Imagine the bottom of the right rib cage rotating forward. Your gaze is goes when it feels good (be mindful to not strain the neck).
Benefits: A great side body stretch that opens up the lungs and the heart. It increases oxygen, rejuvenates the skin and feels ah-maz-ing!
*Note: It is not important that your hand reaches the earth. Focus on stacking hips and shoulders and lengthening the sides of the body. Click here for a great breakdown of triangle pose.
Matsyasana (mot-see-AHS-anna) fish pose: Start on your back with the soles of the feet planted on the earth. Press into the feet and lift the sips enough to slide the hands under the bum (palms down). Lengthen the legs, point the toes and prop up onto your forearms pressing them into the earth. Left your heart as your slowly drop the head back and open up the throat.
Benefits: This pose helps drain the lymph nodes, bringing balance to your hormones.
*Note: It is not important that your head touches the earth. If you feel a strain in the neck, bring it to a neutral position.
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