Whether you’re a self-proclaimed yogi, or you just dabble in the practice from time to time, chances are you didn’t just wake up one day and hit the mat (unless that’s exactly what happened, and if so, right on). Everyone has their reasons for why they began their yoga journey. For me, child’s pose relieved stress, while downward dog helped me become more flexible, but aside from the physical benefits, did you know yoga is good for your skin, as well? Mind you, this isn’t a green light to toss your favorite moisturizer in the trash, but it is a bonus incentive to join a class, or stretch it out on your living room rug.
Personally, I’ve never thought too much about how exercising affects my skin, aside from raising an eyebrow at the occasional rumors about how working up a sweat could cause breakouts. BTW, for the most part, this is a total myth: Interestingly enough, NYC dermatologist and creator of BeautyRx Dr. Neal Schultz, M.D., told Refinery29 that sweat can actually benefit the skin by acting as a natural moisturizer that cleanses the pores, cools down the skin, and kills bacteria.
However, unless your vinyasa is taking place in a heated studio, or the sequence you’re performing requires one challenging pose after another, yoga doesn’t always generate that dripping perspiration that, say, sprints on the treadmill would achieve. So how, then, does yoga keep your skin healthy?
A consistent yoga practice can lower stress levels, aka a potential main cause of breakouts.
Yoga is so much more than a gentle workout (side note: Sometimes it’s really not all that gentle, and anyone who’s attempted crow pose can vouch here); it’s a full-body experience that targets the mind, body, and soul. Physically, you’re flowing on the mat, but your mind is soaking in the mantras of your instructor, or a soft instrumental melody to bring awareness to your mental state and work through any emotional tension.
Now, here’s the link between stress and hormonal acne: When anxiety levels spike, your body responds by producing an excessive amount of the hormone androgen, which stimulates the oil glands. Combine this sebum with lingering dead skin cells and bacteria, the mixture clogs up pores, and bam, you’ve got yourself a monstrous breakout. (This kind of acne isn’t exclusive to your complexion either, friends. Hormonal breakouts come in the form of back acne, they can pop up on your chest, etc.)
In an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, Lycored yoga ambassador Kristin McGee explains that yoga can ultimately reduce stress levels through “deep diaphragmatic breathing” exercises, while the meditative aspect and slow, mindful flows of the practice can “ease any inflammation.” Relax the mind, relax the body, relax all the hormones floating around just waiting to wreak havoc on your skin. Sounds easy enough, right?
The physical effects yoga poses have on the body also contribute to healthy, glowing skin.
In addition to becoming much more flexible (seriously, you should see my bridge pose) and less anxious, I’ve noticed that when I regularly practice yoga, my digestive system is on point. This is because certain poses like bound lotus, forward fold, and spinal twists massage your digestive organs and stimulate a healthy flow.
According to the UK company BIOEFFECT, when you’re all clogged up, your body is unable to process the skin-loving nutrients that come from things like veggies and fruit, and this can cause dull skin and acne. So the more you practice yoga, the more *regular* you'll be, if you know what I mean, which means less pollution to muddle up your complexion.
Additionally, yoga poses that focus on the legs and on grounding through your feet and hands for balance stimulate your immune system and blood flow to keep your internal organs in prime condition. "Dynamic postures," McGee tells Elite Daily, like downward dog, cat-cow (one my personal favorites), and sun salutations, which "build heat and keep the body moving" are all great for your skin.
Because yoga postures require you to "use your own body" to balance and mold into these taxing positions, she continues, things like deep, low lunges, plank variations, and inversions "force the muscles, bones, and joints to work," therefore improving "muscle tone" and "elasticity." What's more, when you work to improve your flexibility through these sorts of poses, McGee adds, they "librate the joints," which keeps skin soft and supple.
Of course, practicing yoga is just one of many natural treatments to keeping skin healthy. Products like moisturizers and daily cleansers, as well as staying hydrated and eating a well-balanced diet full of vitamins and minerals, will all help you sustain a clear complexion and healthy skin throughout your entire body. What you put in, you'll get out, so show your body some love, and it will do the same.