Yoga is celebrated for its stress-busting and strength building abilities - but did you know that it can also benefit your skin? Yoga glow is a thing, and if you practice regularly you’ve probably noticed positive changes in your complexion. Dr. Genieve Burley tells us: “Moving your body is medicine. It allows for detoxification by flushing all of the organs, it increases respiration, it lubricates joints and strengthens muscles. Breathing and moving in yoga can help to balance hormones and move waste stagnating in the intestines. All of this leads to healthier, happier skin.” In honor of Wellness Month in August and National Yoga Month in September, here is a closer look at the power of yoga for glowing skin, on and off the mat.
On The Mat: 5 Yoga Poses For Healthy Skin
Yoga benefits for the skin start on the mat. Dendy Engelman, MD tells SELF: “Yoga causes vasodilation (enlargement of the blood vessels), which leads to increased blood flow to the skin, providing it with more oxygen and nutrients, lending itself to a cutaneous flushing or 'glow'." Whether you practice at home or in the studio, here are five yoga poses for a glowing complexion.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
With its focus on deep, rhythmic breathing, this simple standing pose helps alleviate stress and improve oxygen flow. According to NDTV: “Getting in more oxygen through controlled breathing helps the body to release harmful toxins and keep the skin healthy and glowing.” By enhancing circulation, tadasana improves lymphatic drainage which brightens the complexion and reduces puffiness around the eye area.
How to do Mountain Pose:
- Stand comfortably with your big toes touching and heels slightly apart
- Press the soles of your feet into the floor and engage your thighs, drawing them inward and upward
- Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor and draw in your belly
- Keeping your chin parallel to the mat, draw your shoulders back and down
- Soften your eyes and throat and let your arms hang beside your torso
- Optional: Raise your hands into a prayer position in front of your chest
- Close your eyes
- Inhale and exhale deeply for 5 breaths
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold)
Inversions are one of the best ways to bring blood flow to the face and increase oxygen supply to skin cells. Yoga instructor Jessica Bellofatto tells Shape: "If I don't have an opportunity for an entire yoga practice, I take at least five minutes and turn upside down—it's anti-gravity and anti-aging and absolutely gives the skin a healthy glow."
How to do a Standing Forward Fold:
- Stand in Mountain Pose with your hands resting on your hips
- Slowly exhale and bend forward from your hips (not your waist)
- Bend your knees as much as you need to relieve tension from your lower back
- Allow your head to hang heavy
- If possible, bring your palms to rest on the floor or against the back of your ankles; if not, cross your arms in front of you, holding your elbows
- With each inhalation, slightly lift and lengthen your torso; be mindful to avoid rounding your back
- Inhale and exhale deeply for 5 breaths
Parivrtta Sukhasana (Simple Seated Twist)
A healthy gut is essential for healthy skin. Dendy Engelman tells SELF: "Toxins not cleared from the body often get deposited in adipose fat tissue and in the skin, which can lead to acne, discoloration, and accelerated aging." Parivrtta sukhasana is a gentle, seated twist that assists in digestion and toxin removal by increasing circulation and energy to the stomach, small intestine, large intestine and liver.
How to do a Simple Seated Twist:
- Sit on the floor in a cross-legged position (if your hips are tight, you may need a block)
- Align your head, neck and spine and lengthen your tailbone toward the floor
- Place your right hand flat on the floor behind you
- Place your left hand on the outside of your right knee
- As you exhale, gently twist to the right and gaze over your right shoulder
- On each inhale, lengthen your spine; on each exhale, twist more deeply
- Practice this for 5 breaths, then switch sides
Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
Another yoga pose for better skin is matsyasana, or fish pose. By gently stretching the throat muscles, fish pose helps flush your thyroid and parathyroid glands, thereby keeping hormones - and hormone-related skin concerns - in check. Additionally, matsyasana has great anti-aging benefits. The Social says: “This pose gives a good stretch to the muscles of the face and throat which makes it one of the beneficial exercises to reduce the appearance of a double chin.”
How to do Fish Pose:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor
- Lift your hips and tuck your hands beneath your buttocks, palms down
- Draw your forearms and elbows in tight towards your body
- On your inhale, press your forearms and elbows into the floor and gently arch your back to lift your torso up and away from the floor
- Elongate your spine by firming your shoulder blades and lifting your chest higher
- Gently tilt your head backward, letting the crown of your head rest on the floor
- Keep your legs energized
- Inhale and exhale for 5 breaths
Stress is one of the worst offenders for skin woes. Chiropractor and yoga instructor Genieve Burley tells us: “Emotional stress takes a huge toll on your hormones and your skin. When you live in harmony with work, friends and commitments, your stress is reduced and your skin can glow.” Cobra pose helps reduce tension, stress and fatigue by opening your lungs and energizing your body. By lowering cortisol (the “stress hormone”) and reducing oxidative stress, yoga helps to minimize and prevent the visible signs of aging brought on by dehydration and loss of elasticity.
How to do Cobra Pose:
- Lie on your belly
- Stretch your legs out behind you with your knees touching and the tops of your feet resting on the floor
- Spread your hands on the floor beneath your shoulders and hug your elbows into your sides
- Press your feet and thighs firmly into the floor
- On your inhale, straighten your arms to push your chest forward and up off the floor
- Slowly roll your shoulders back and away from your ears to elongate your neck
- Hold for 5 breaths
Off The Mat: Healthy Body, Healthy Skin
You can extend the benefits of yoga for your skin by embracing yoga principles in your daily life. One of yoga’s core principles is “niyama” and refers to how you take care of your body. Practicing niyama involves adopting lifestyle habits that support your body’s health - this includes paying attention to what you eat and how you care for your skin. Genieve says: “We have layers of the epidermis in the gut and in the skin, so what we put in the gut will reflect on your skin.” A diet rich in plant-based foods and antioxidants can help to minimize wear and tear on your skin caused by environmental stressors like the sun, seasonal changes and pollution.
Equally important is treating your skin from the outside-in. Genieve tells us: “We need products that are packed with nutrients and made with natural ingredients, like plants. Our skin recognizes elements from nature, not synthetics.” Natural and organic products packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidant-rich ingredients are extremely beneficial for a healthy and youthful looking complexion. Not sure where to start? Yoga Journal’s beauty experts recommend Eminence Organics Rosehip & Lemongrass Lip Balm, Firm Skin Acai Exfoliating Peel and Facial Recovery Oil to keep your skin looking healthy and youthful.
Has yoga improved your skin? We’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts with us in the comments below and join the conversation on social media.