YOGA SKIN: HIT THE MAT FOR A GLOWING COMPLEXION
Yoga, whether it be a gentle hatha, more active vinyasa or a hot ‘power’ class is one of the most effective types of activity that we can do to help our skin to stay healthy. There are many asanas or poses that benefit the body as a whole, including our largest organ (the skin), so let’s break it down.
The most obvious benefit is that yoga works to improve digestion and circulation through gentle, yet active movement. When your body has better blood and oxygen flow, it naturally produces glowing skin.
When your digestion is not working properly, you are unable to process important nutrients from healthy veggies and fruit which can cause dull skin and acne due to toxic build up. Practising asanas such as knee to chest or wind-relieving posture and floor bow pose (lying prone on the floor and grabbing both heels behind you), are both excellent for digestion as they stimulate both the ascending and descending colons. When we have balanced digestion, we are less prone to break outs and/or inflammatory conditions such as rosacea.
Yoga targets the mind, body, and soul and regardless of the style, it always focuses heavily on breathing techniques (pranayama) for good reason. Fresh oxygen is essential to the health and maintenance of the cells. Focused breathing helps us to reduce cortisol levels (stress), balance our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and encourage the introduction of fresh oxygen into the organs. Just think about why we encourage someone to breathe deeply when they are having a panic attack.
Further, when anxiety levels spike, your body responds by producing an excessive amount of the hormone androgen, which stimulates the oil glands. This combined with bacteria is what can lead to nasty face and back breakouts. Hot yoga – love it or hate it – is particularly fantastic for detoxing the skin but more on that later.
Other yoga poses, such as forward fold, balasana (child’s pose), as well as inversions such as headstands or shoulder stands, are also extremely effective in increasing blood flow to the third eye and face in particular. Our third eye sits directly between the eyebrows and is also the home of the pineal gland which regulates our sleep/wake hormone. It’s a simple equation; better sleep equals better skin!
In some yoga classes, you spend time on self massaging the face using acupressure and myofascial techniques similar to what your skin therapist might do in a spa facial. These types of facial yoga movements will strengthen and tone important muscles such as the masseter which helps keep jowls from sagging.
Yoga offers a wonderful balance of both yin and yang or more passive versus active movement, but can be surprisingly challenging. Hot yoga, Bikram or power yoga is a particularly strong form of practice and usually incorporates some ashtanga as well as hatha and vinyasa styles.
Practising yoga in a hot room for 60 to 90 minutes ensures you will perspire! Of course having a good sweat is probably the best way to detoxify the body and skin. Many yoga studios use infrared heat in particular which is far superior to ambient heat due to its ability to penetrate the body 2 to 7 centimetres. The heat leads to increased blood circulation which carries off metabolic waste products and delivers oxygen-rich blood to oxygen-depleted muscles. This can also be a great way to manage eczema and psoriasis which is why many sufferers will also use an infrared sauna on a regular basis.
Heat or not, most forms of yoga are accessible and beneficial for people of all ages. It is just one of many ways to keep your skin and body healthy, and along with using well formulated, botanically based skincare such as Embalm Skincare’s Absolute Essentials Pack, visiting a skin therapist for regular facials, staying properly hydrated and eating a well-balanced diet, yoga will help you sustain a clear complexion and healthy skin throughout your life.
About the Author:
Lisa Randall is an American born qualified skin therapist, yoga teacher and remedial massage therapist who operates a day spa in Brisbane north. In addition to offering a wide array of medispa facials for all skin conditions, bodywork for chronic and acute injury and pain, she also teaches hot yoga, offers private yoga sessions and will be holding retreats in the near future. www.botaniqueskinandspa.com