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Could Yoga Practice Cause Your Skin to Break Out?

Yoga as a therapeutic practice will encourage the process of detoxification. Hot yoga in particular really prompts a release of toxins into the bloodstream for elimination. In the long-run, this is very beneficial for your skin. But in the short-term, you might ask “what gives?” Yoga’s supposed to make me healthy not cause my skin to break out?

Since the skin is the largest organ in your body, and is also one of the key organs involved in detoxification, it’s not uncommon for your face, chest and back to show signs of the cleansing process. If you’ve been experiencing unexpected breakouts after starting a yoga practice or even when coming back to yoga after a break, these uninvited eruptions may well be a result of the detoxification process. Not to worry, this is not uncommon, and it’s is a good sign that the bodily changes yoga is making are having a positive impact on you. If you’re a bit toxic and your body is releasing a lot of toxins all at once, faster than your eliminatory organs (especially the skin) can get rid of them, then these organs will be a bit overwhelmed, but rest assured, this is a temporary situation and there are a few things you can do to avoid excessive or prolonged breakouts:

•First and foremost, eat well: A clean diet is the key; so avoid refined sugars, saturated fats/partially hydrogenated oils, fast foods and most highly processed foods. Replace these foods with fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, organic whenever possible and practical.

•Remain well hydrated: Drink plenty of water! It will help flush out those toxins so they don’t get stuck in the sebaceous glands of your skin (the main cause of acne & other breakouts).

•Make sure you always use your own yoga mat: Shared yoga mats are a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria. Bring your own yoga mat and keep it clean; use a natural mat cleaner after every practice

•Wash your face and hands often: After a sweaty yoga session, wash your face and hands with mild soap and water to fresh and clear. If this is not always possible, keep packs of facial cleansing wipes in your yoga bag, then you won’t have any excuses.

A real detox reaction may last from a few days to a week, and at the very worst shouldn’t last for more than two to three weeks. Then of course, over time, yoga will work to improve your skin. Here’s a couple yoga poses that can help promote a fresh complexion and vibrant skin tone…

•Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Forward Bend): Sit on the floor on a folded blanket with your legs extended. Inhale, bending your right knee and drawing your heel back toward your groin. Rest your right foot against the inside of your left thigh. Lay your outer right leg on the floor, with your shin at a right angle to your left leg. Press your right hand against your inner right thigh and your left hand on the floor beside your hip. Exhale and turn your torso to the left, reaching to grasp your left foot in your right hand. Inhale and lengthen through the top of your head, twisting further to the left. Reach your left hand to the outside of your left foot, exhaling as you bend forward to touch your nose to your knee. Hold for up to one minute, then release on an exhalation. Repeat on the other side.

•Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Spinal Twist): Sit on the floor or your mat with legs extended. Bend your knees, sliding your left foot under your right and laying the outside of the left leg on the floor. Step your right foot over your left leg, standing it on the floor outside your left hip, right knee pointed up at the ceiling. Inhale and lift through the top of your head, then exhale, twisting to the right. Press the right hand against the floor behind you, and then position your left elbow on the outside of your right thigh near the knee, upper arm lifted in a wave. Twist your head to look right, or counter-twist it to look left. Hold for up to one minute, lifting with each inhalation and deepening the twist with each exhalation. Release with an exhalation. Repeat on the other side.

*Remember, the health and vibrancy of your skin is directly related to circulation, so poor postural habits that inhibit blood flow to the skin can lead to skin disorders.

Twists are particularly good for increasing circulation to the face and neck because they turn the head, neck and shoulders in relation to the upper back. A few that are recommended for a glowing complexion are:

•Bharadvajasana (Bharadvaja’s twist)

•Ardha Matsyendrasana (half spinal twist)

•Trikonasana (triangle pose)

* Inversions are another way to increase blood flow to the face. Begin with Viparita Karani (legs up the wall pose) and ask your yoga instructor about more inversions that may be helpful.

Last, but not least: But what if you start a yoga practice and your complexion doesn’t clear up, or it gets worse? If your symptoms get worse, that may mean your practice is too vigorous. Having too much heat in the body can impact digestion and irritate the skin. This sometimes happens when you’re forcing your poses, your yoga practice is too challenging or if you’re going through your sequences too quickly. Your breath is probably the best gauge; it should remain constant and smooth. If it isn’t, try slowing down and focusing on relaxation or consult with your yoga teacher.

Diet, Hot Yoga and Your Skin…

Never underestimate this amazing organ called the skin as the revealer of many hidden things going on within your body; things you really should pay close attention to.

As the largest eliminatory organ in the body, the skin works to assist in the elimination of toxins we encounter; from food, water, the environment, etc. The primary detoxification organs like the liver and colon are constantly and powerfully at work within our bodies, but when several factors are not dealt with properly; like diet, physical fitness, sleep, proper hydration and overuse of prescription drugs, the liver and digestive system is compromised, leaving it up to the skin to try and rid the body of excess toxins. This results in inflammation, pimples, breakouts, rashes, swelling, dryness, dark circles, and other skin disorders.

Toxins throughout your body will try and exit through the skin when your body’s toxic load is too high and can’t be handled by the other eliminatory organs such as the liver, colon and kidneys.  Then your skin becomes the primary avenue of detoxification and your digestive system is compromised. Though often unrecognized, chronic inflammation can develop, and in turn, start to produce dis-ease in the body. Once you recognize these clues on your skin as powerful tell-tale signs that your health is jeopardized, you can begin initiating change and developing some better habits with your diet, physical activities and lifestyle in general. Nearly all skin conditions, including even psoriasis and eczema are just our body’s’ way of telling us that we need to detoxify and alkalize our bodies.

A good way to start is to reduce and eventually eliminate dairy, meat, processed foods and refined sugars. Next try adding lots pure water (not tap water which may contain chlorine, fluoride & even lead), tons of leafy greens and green smoothies, daily juicing, salads with lots of raw vegetables, plenty of fruit and some lightly cooked veggies.  Even though this may seem a bit extreme to some, keep in mind that this lifestyle is key to optimal health, longevity and energy production.  Absolutely everything you eat affects your body either positively or negatively, making it acidic or alkaline.

What to Feed Your Skin to Detox…

The #1 cleansing foods to add to your diet are bitter or astringent in nature and should be added every day. Choose from dark leafy greens (kale, chard, collards, nettles, dandelion, turnip greens, radicchio, endives, watercress, etc), Daikon radish, and Jerusalem artichoke. Other bright leafy greens like Romaine lettuce and spinach also assist in cleansing the blood & boosting collagen.

Enough fiber is also essential. Without sufficient fiber, complete elimination is not possible, if possible at all. The toxins from every part of the body, including millions of dead cells daily, end up in the colon. In order to eliminate these substances from the colon, the body needs fiber, so add apples with skin, fresh vegetables, legumes & flax seeds to the diet for proper elimination of toxins. A clean colon is for clear skin.

Poisonous Foods for Your Skin…

All fried foods, soda (including diet soda), dairy products, “enriched” flour and refined sugars and artificial sweetners are the worst culprits. Eliminate these from your diet if you want clear, radiant skin.

The Importance of Exercise for Your Skin…

Once a suitable dietary regime incorporated into your lifestyle, it’s time to introduce some form of aerobic exercise. Using Hot Yoga to detox is by far one of the best ways you can help your body to rid itself of unwanted toxins. The human body contains some awesome systems for removing toxins, including the functions of the liver, kidneys, colon and skin.

The body removes waste through the skin via sweat; this is where Hot Yoga comes into play. Yoga by itself is a powerful, full body workout, but the addition of heat makes it one of the best all around workouts possible.

The increased temperature will prompt you to sweat profusely, and this sweating has a cleansing effect that involves your entire body. Many toxins present in your body will be flushed out through your skin, and you will become less susceptible, not only to skin disorders, but to disease and illness in general.

In Addition to Diet & Exercise – Rest!

A good night’s sleep is vital to the detoxification process. It is recommended you turn off or remove yourself from the effects of electronics (your computers, televisions, cell phones, etc.) at least one hour before bedtime, along with a good diet and exercise, it will help insure you get a quality 6 to 8 hours of sleep at night. Adequate rest is necessary for the health of the whole body; after a week or so of getting the required amount of sleep you’ll see your skin change before your very eyes!

Cheers to great skin and your decision today to control how you are going to look tomorrow.

Homemade Vegan Facemasks

Our skin is our primary barrier against external attack, insulating and protecting us from being damaged.  If it is compromised, the damaged and/or irritated skin is then even more sensitive and permeable to external attack, and its appearance is also impaired.

The following “cruelty free” facemask recipes are meant to replenish undernourished skin, heal and sooth damaged, dry, chapped, sunburned, aging or irritated skin. They also offer an alternative to commercial, artificial and chemically laden facemasks and creams. They save you the money of paying big bucks for a spa-style vegan face mask when you can make one yourself!

By returning the facial skin back to a normal pH these masks will also help to clear up and prevent acne.

They’ll keep for up to a week if covered and placed in the refrigerator, plus they feel amazing when applied to the face cold.

It is recommended that you apply these facemasks to the entire face, allowing it to dry for about 20 minutes or so after which you can rinse it off with warm water and pat the skin dry with a soft cotton towel.

Avocado, Strawberry and Turmeric Mask  

Ingredients and directions – makes enough for 5 masks:

• 1 small avocado

• 1/2 cup strawberries

• 1 tsp matcha (a finely milled or fine powder green tea)

• 2 tsp turmeric

• 1/4 cup almond milk

Either mash the strawberries and avocado with a fork or add to a processor and process until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir or blend to combine.

Avocados are a natural moisturizer moisturizing and they are also very high in Vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant. Strawberries contain a compound called salicylic acid which is anti-bacterial and astringent and strawberries also act as an exfoliant, helping to remove dead skin cells. Matcha is powdered green tea which is super high in antioxidants and polyphenols which help prevent the aging of the skin and help with inflammation. Turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory both taken internally and applied externally, helping with skin conditions like acne. Almond milk is high in vitamin E which is a potent antioxidant.

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Cool Cucumber Mask

• 1 cucumber, grated

• 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

• 3 fresh mint leaves, crushed

Combine all the ingredients in bowl and mix well. Apply to the face and neck. After 15-20 minutes, rinse thoroughly. Your skin should now feel cool, soft and refreshed.

This facemask was inspired by an age-old beauty secret: cucumbers. Cucumbers contain silica, which can help rejuvenate your skin, tighten your pores, and even treat nasty sunburn!

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Oatmeal Nut-milk Mask

  1/2 cup rolled or whole oats

• 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut or almond

• 1 Tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar

Blend the oats in a food processor until no large grains remain. Add the coconut milk and apple cider vinegar and pulse until well mixed. Apply to the face and neck. After 15-20 minutes, rinse thoroughly. Enjoy rejuvenated skin!

The idea of an oatmeal mask isn’t new, but this simplified version of the classic facial is pure goodness. Oatmeal can help restore your skin’s natural moisture and also help heal scarring.

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Facemasks are considered by many skin care specialists to be an essential part of any good skincare routine. They provide a deep cleaning and an increase in hydration not readily available in most commercial products. It can be especially difficult for vegans to find affordable facemask options in retail stores that are free of animal derived ingredients and/or ones that have not been tested on animals.

So consider making your own vegan-friendly facemask using one of the recipes above and nothing but fresh, all-natural ingredients from your kitchen. With regular use of one of these masks, you should see a major improvement in the overall quality and appearance of your skin and overall complexion.