How To Use Yoga To Clear Your Skin

clear skin lifestyle yoga Feb 05, 2018

The practice of yoga is one steeped in Ayurvedic history and the many physical and mental benefits are well known and documented. However, you may not realise that yoga can be used to specifically support you on your journey to clear skin.

Yoga Poses For Clear Skin

Any physical activity that improves your oxygenation, circulation (especially of lymph) and reduces stress levels will be useful to support healing your skin. And that means, any yoga pose will be helpful too. But there are specific poses that have more skin-targeted benefits than others, and most of these can be done easily and safely - even if you've never done yoga before!

Boost Your Oxygen Intake

When you think of yoga, you probably immediately think of the physical asanas or poses. And whilst these are a huge component of yoga, so too are yogic breathing techniques. As a result of stress, posture, and sedentary jobs most of us are not breathing optimally - and therefore are operating under the influence of less oxygen than is ideal. 

So a few minutes of mindful breathing can make the world of difference to all of your cells, and their ability to detoxify and heal. It also has indirect skin benefits through the reduction of stress; lowering stress levels, in turn, will help balance your hormones as well.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This practice is one of full, deep, and mindful breathing which can help reset a frazzled nervous system. Moving from a more sympathetic nervous system state (fight or flight) into a more parasympathetic state (rest and repair) is also vital for clear skin.

It is essentially a breathing meditation within yoga and - interestingly - breath work (also called pranayama) is often one of the first things an Ayurvedic doctor will recommend when it comes to treating acne.

Alternate nostril breathing is essentially a matter of inhaling through one nostril and exhaling through the other. This is a technique that anyone can do and you can learn how to do it right here.

Breath Of Fire

The practice called Breath of Fire is a much more vigorous one. It's a rapid, rhythmic, and continuous form of Pranyama breathing and is one of the foundational breathing techniques of Kundalini Yoga.

It results in increased oxygenation which facilitates faster cell turnover - meaning your blemishes and scarring heal quicker. Optimal oxygenation also aids the function of all tissues and organs which - when it comes to digestion especially - helps with acne treatment as well. 

If you'd like to give it a try I love this video demonstration.

Boost Oxygen Capacity

These poses open up the ribcage giving the lungs, heart and whole chest more room to move. This allows for better oxygenation even when at rest.

Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

Considered one of the best poses for for glowing skin Trikonasana opens up the lungs, chest and heart. By boosting delivery of oxygen to the skin it helps your skin feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

Camel Post (Ustrasana)

This is a stronger pose more suited to those who have some experience of yoga. It involves an intense back bend that helps to open up the rib cage and increase lung capacity; great for reducing stress and balancing hormones as well (both of which contribute to breakouts and acne).

Detoxify With Spinal Twists

Inhaling and exhaling during a spinal twist provides a gentle massage for everything inside which makes twists wonderful for detoxifying the internal organs. 

Impaired detoxification contributes to acne, and anything that supports the body's eliminative capabilities will aid in the healing of your skin.

Reclining Twist

For yoga beginners this is an easy, and passive, stretch. You do it lying down and it involves twisting your legs one way and your head the other. You can see how to do this here.

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrāsana)

This is a seated twist which is particularly great for the intestines. It is also said to energise the spine and relieve menstrual discomfort. If you've never done it before you can find step-by-step instructions and a how-to video right here.

Revolved Triangle Pose (Parivrtta Trikonasana)

This is a twist version of the Triangle Pose above whereby you swap the side you're facing for the opposite i.e. facing away from the direction your hips are pointing as opposed to facing the same direction.

Increase Circulation With Inversions

With the exception of the standing forward bend, shoulder stands and headstands are for the more advanced yogi. If you're a beginner I'd recommend you do these under the instruction and supervision of a qualified yoga teacher.

Standing Forward Bend (Utthanasana)

This forward-bending pose promotes blood flow to the face and makes it one of the most functional poses for glowing skin. This yoga pose not only increases oxygen supply to the skin cells but also boosts the supply of nutrients that fight the damage caused by free radicals and encourages skin rejuvenation.

This asana helps increase the circulation of blood in the face, neck, and head. It helps to relax the facial muscles and balance out the hormones, thereby promoting healthy skin.

Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana)

This pose is considered the number one yoga asana for glowing skin. It helps in improving skin texture and quality by promoting blood circulation towards your face. You may find that regular inversions result in a healthy facial glow - and it's said that practicing it 3-5 times a day will help pimples and acne, as well as wrinkles and dullness. 

If you're new to shoulder stands, I'd start with the supported version like this one.

Reset Your Nervous System

Stress hormones play a huge role in the aetiology of acne and stress management is a top priority when it comes to clear skin. Whilst there are many useful natural ways to manage stress, few are as accessible and enjoyable as this one.

Child's Pose (Balasana)

Stress hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more oil which means, when you’re under pressure, you're much more likely to have a breakout. Child's pose is a lovely, calming practice that - if used regularly - will certainly benefit your skin.

Legs Up The Wall (Viparita Karani)

I talk about this pose in my book Clear Skin Secrets and I think it's great at any time of day; but it's particularly useful in the evening before bed for a restful sleep. Adequate sleep is just as important for your skin as it is for your brain and the rest of your body. We heal in our sleep, and your skin detoxifies overnight whilst you rest.

This pose is a great way to get into a calm, sleepy state before bed.

If you find the traditional version too much to begin with, you can try this modified version instead.