Could Yoga Practice Cause Your Skin to Break Out?

26 May 2013

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.

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