Because your skin is a reflection of your physical and mental health, activities that nurture the body and soul will also benefit your complexion. Yoga improves your skin health by reducing stress, toning muscles and removing toxins from the body.
Although yoga has been practiced in some cultures for centuries, it has gained worldwide popularity in recent years as studies have confirmed its positive effects on the body, mind and soul. The word “yoga” comes from a Sanskrit root that means yoke, unite or make whole.
A yoga pose or posture is referred to as “asana.” The poses involve putting the body in various positions including standing, lying down, upside-down and seated postures. Asanas induce relaxation, encourage deep breathing and enhance blood flow to the skin.
Some of the most beneficial poses for your skin include:
Mountain pose: This asana is easy for most people and is ideal for beginners. It is a standing pose that supports deep, rhythmic breathing. Most people breathe into their throats, which limits the amount of oxygen into the body. Deep breathing draws oxygen through and out of the body, allowing toxins to be released.
Standing bending forward: This pose is technically referred to as “uttanasana.” It is good for your skin because you bend at the waist, close your eyes and let your head hang. Forward-bending poses fight against gravity by turning your head to the ground instead of toward the sky. Blood flows to the face faster, bringing with it oxygen to transport nutrients that fight free radicals and encourage cell renewal.
Twisting: Poses that incorporate twisting are good for digestive health, which is important for moving toxins out of the organs. Toxin removal is essential for healthy skin.
Chair pose: Challenging poses like the chair pose make the heart beat faster, increasing the circulation of blood flow throughout the body and prompting the skin to sweat out impurities.
Meditation: Although it is not a “pose,” meditation is key component in the practice of yoga. Meditation is a powerful stress buster and chronic stress is at the root of many health problems, including skin conditions. If you make time for asanas and meditation twice a day, you will feel and see a radiance from within that will be showcased on your complexion.
Yoga is low-impact, safe and cost-effective. Most asanas can be modified to accommodate individual fitness levels. Some people use blocks, straps and blankets to enhance their asanas and also to provide postural support.
If your schedule does not allow time to attend a regular yoga class, there are many DVDs and books available that can guide you through a yoga workout. Start out with simple moves and stretches and gradually develop a more sophisticated routine.
You probably don’t keep your yoga mat on the dressing table where you keep your natural skin care products such as moisturizers, serums and cleansers. But yoga is an important tool in your skin care routine if you want to keep glowing from the inside out. With regular practice, yoga will improve your posture, enhance muscle tone and help you strike a balance that keeps your body and mind in harmony.
European Academy of Dermatology http://www.eadv.org
American Yoga Association http://www.americanyogaassociation.org
Psychology Today http://www.psychologytoday/psychodermatology