You’ve probably already heard about the many physical and mental benefits yoga offers. The practice can improve flexibility, strength, sleep quality, and your well-being overall, wrote the authors of a study published in theInternational Journal of Yoga. But did you know your time on the mat can also help your skin?
“Our skin is the largest organ in our body,” says Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, a celebrity dermatologist and medical director of Mudgil Dermatology in New York City. “Anything that’s good for the body is good for the skin.”
Claire Grieve, an international yoga specialist and health coach, says yoga helps the skin in other ways, too. “It gets your heart pumping and your blood flowing, which carries fresh oxygen and nutrients throughout your whole body, including your face,” she says. Research published in the journal Gut Pathogens also showed there’s a gut-skin connection — a healthy gut equals healthy skin, Grieve says. Finally, a sweaty yoga sesh can help clear away dead skin cells and surface toxins, Grieve says. The result? A glowing complexion.
Any yoga practice will help you reap skin benefits, but Grieve recommends these six moves in particular for a more glowing complexion.
1.Doing a 30-Second Forward Fold Increases Blood Flow to Your Face
This simple pose can help release tension throughout the body and increase oxygen and blood flow to your face, Grieve says. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and exhale as you bend forward, hinging at your hips. Allow your head and arms to hang, and keep your knees soft. You can bend your elbows and hold each elbow with your opposite hand. Hold the pose for about one minute and then stand up slowly. Grieve says to make this pose your go-to if you’re pressed for time. “Just do a forward fold for about 30 seconds,” she says. “It will instantaneously increase the circulation to your face, creating a quick but powerful radiance.” Note that if you have rosacea, you’ll want to make sure your skin is under control before performing this move.
2.Completing a Seated Twist May Help Rev Your Body’s Natural Detox System
Sit with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your right knee over your left leg and place your right foot next to your left thigh. Bend your left knee and slide your foot under your right leg so your left ankle is near your right glute. Extend your right fingertips onto the mat behind you and bring your left arm around the outside of your right knee. Hold the twist, exhale, and repeat on the other side. “Twists are known for stimulating blood flow to the digestive and detox organs — the liver, kidneys — which helps your body better eliminate toxin build up in the body,” Grieve says. “Toxins often show up as inflammation, which can be visible in your face.”
3.Performing an Inversion, Such as Dolphin Pose, Is Like Getting a ‘Mini Facial’
This yoga pose is similar to downward-facing dog but is done on the forearms. It’s an inversion pose, which means your head moves below your heart. “Practicing inversions is like giving yourself a mini facial,” Grieve says. “When your head drops below the heart, you increase the circulation of oxygen and nutrients to your face.” Start on your hands and knees. Then lower your elbows to the mat so your forearms are parallel to one another and resting on the mat directly beneath your shoulders. Tuck your toes and lift your pelvis up toward the ceiling. Straighten your legs — it’s okay if your heels do not touch the ground.
4.Carrying Out a Simple Cat-Cow Offers Critical Digestive Support
Start your day with a few cat-cows to get your digestive system moving, Grieve says. Start on all fours. Inhale as you look up to the sky and sink your belly toward the floor. Then reverse the move: Tuck your head into your chest as you look to your belly button and arch your back as you exhale.
5.Easing Your Way Into a Restorative Pose, Like Goddess, Helps Fight Inflammation
Grieve says restorative poses like this one can help relieve some of the nasty inflammation that results from stress. Stand with your feet 3 feet apart and turned at a 45-degree angle facing the corners of the room. Sink down into a squat. Extend your arms up and bend your elbows so they align with your shoulders and are parallel to the ground. The palms of your hands should face each other. Keep your shoulders down and chest pressed forward. Hold the pose as you inhale and exhale.
6.Flowing Through Sun Salutations Energizes the Whole Body — Including Your Face
Sun salutations are baked into every vinyasa flow — and for good reason: The move can help wake up the body and mind, which Grieve says will deliver fresh energy to your face and spirit. Salutations string together several yoga poses — mountain pose, forward bend, plank pose, chaturanga, cobra or upward-facing dog, downward-facing dog, forward bend, and, finally, a return to standing.