If you’re ever practiced any form of yoga, whether at an upscale boutique studio or at home with a Youtube video, you’ll probably have had an instructor ask you to “set an intention for your practice”. Where ‘de-stressing’ and ‘weight loss’ are common goals, have you ever considered ‘achieving glowing skin’?
It sounds crazy to think we could simply turn to yoga instead of harsh Benzoyl peroxide and Salicylic acid to tame breakouts and achieve that #nofilter glow, but according to the ancient Indian healing tradition of Ayurveda, there are certain yoga poses that are believed to help improve your skin’s appearance. The link between yoga and clear skin lies in the breathing techniques, which help to alleviate stress – a major contributing factor to hormonal breakouts, oily skin and dullness. Sun and moon salutations (you’ll find these flows in most yoga routines) also contribute to clearer skin, as the movements help to expedite the body’s detox process, ridding your body of toxins that potentially cause acne.
While we don’t recommend ditching your expensive masks or acne-fighting products just yet, we say, there is absolutely no harm in getting in more yoga (other benefits include weight loss, a more toned physique, flexibility and improved overall well-being). Try incorporating these 10 poses into your daily life, and along with a healthy diet, to get your best skin ever this year.
AKA: the shoulder stand
Good for: promoting blood circulation towards the face, and encouraging the healing of pitta type acne (red, angry pimples) that are caused by emotional imbalances such as stress and anger.
How to: lie flat on your back and peel your legs and hips off the ground, slowly transferring all the weight to your shoulders and upper back using your arms for support. Breathe slowly, filling your lungs fully with each inhaled. Hold the pose for 3-5 minutes every day.
AKA: the wheel pose
Good for: this asana helps to alleviate constipation and boost blood circulation to the face, enabling your body to expedite the rate of toxin removal while delivering the vital nutrients needed for clear skin to your face.
How to: lie flat on your back and place your hands, by your ears with your palms pointing back. Slowly lift yourself off the ground, evenly distributing the weight between your hands and legs. Hold the pose for as long as possible, and gently lower yourself to the ground to release the asana. Repeat 3-5 times.
AKA: the triangle pose
Good for: this is an amazing stretch that opens your lungs, heart and chest, supplying your body with more oxygen. This helps to rejuvenate and refresh your skin while restoring equilibrium of the body and mind.
How to: stand with your legs wide apart and turn your right foot out. Raise your arms up to the sides and lean towards your right, bending from your hips. Allow your right arm to touch the floor (or your shin, depending on your flexibility) and your left arm up in the air. Turn your gaze toward your left arm, with your head in a neutral position. Remain in this pose with taking long, deep breaths and slowly return to standing. Repeat on the left side.
AKA: the wind-relieving pose
Good for: as it’s name suggests, this pose helps to relieve bloating and improve digestion and constipation. Similar to the wheel pose, it improves gut health, which could in turn help clear breakouts.
How to: lie on your back with your feet together and arms resting on the sides. Breathe in, then exhale as you bring your right knee in towards your chest. Clasp your hands around your knee and pull your thigh towards your stomach. If you can, lift your head and chest off the ground and try to touch your knee with your chin. Loosen your hands and let your leg return to the straight position, and repeat on the other side.
AKA: the fish pose
Good for: it is said that this pose promotes healthy skin by improving the functions of the thyroid and pituitary gland, which in turn regulates the hormones that cause breakouts.
How to: lie on the floor and tuck your hands under your hips. Lift your upper body off the floor, such that it forms an arch from your hips to your head. Stay in the pose for 1 minute and return to the starting position. Repeat several times before bed. This pose is also a great stretch for your back, as it is likely you’ve spent a good part of the day hunched over your computer!
AKA: the camel pose
Good for: this intense back bend opens up the rib cage and can increase lung capacity over time, allowing you to inhale more oxygen, which as we know is good for your skin! This pose also helps to reduce stress and is said to balance hormones that are responsibility for breakouts.
How to: kneel on the floor, and place your hands on your heels. Bend backwards as far as possible, and allow your head to gently hang back. Hold this pose for 1 minute, and return to starting position by releasing your hands and using your abdominal muscles to upright yourself.
AKA: the seated twist
Good for: encouraging a healthy digestive system. You’ll find various twists in yoga, as they help to remove toxins and other harmful substances from the organs. When you’ve cleared your system of waste, the results will show – glowing skin.
How to: sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Cross your left leg over your right leg in an upright position. As you exhale, twist your torso to the left and touch the floor behind you with your left hand. Push your right elbow against your left knee. Breathe deeply and maintain this pose for a minute. Release, and repeat on the otherside.
AKA: the cobra pose
Good for: a relaxing asana that reduces tension, stress and fatigue by opening up the chest. This pose is said to help supply extra oxygen to your skin, and aids the body in flushing out any accumulated toxins and encourage cell turnover.
How to: lie on your stomach with your toes flat against the floor. Place your hands by your ribs and as your exhale, gently push upwards such that your torso and stomach is lifted off the floor. Hold this pose for 1 minute, breathing deeply. Return to starting and repeat as many times as you like.
AKA: the plow/plough pose
Good for: supposedly considered one of the best asanas for glowing skin! This pose helps to improve your digestive system, as well as relieve lower back and hip pain.
How to: lie on your back and raise your legs and torso off the floor. Bring your legs over your head and if possible, touch the ground with your toes. Maintain this position for 10-30 seconds, while remembering to breathe deeply.
AKA: the mountain pose
Good for: this simple pose encourages you to focus on deep and rhythmic breathing, which alleviates stress by bringing down your heart rate. Controlled breathing also enables your body to get in more oxygen, which is vital for clear skin.
How to: stand straight with your feet flat and next to each other. Raise both hands and join them in a prayer position in front of your chest. As you inhale, extend your arms above your head with your palms still touching, standing as straight and tall as possible without over-arching your back. Breathe deeply for about 1 minute.