Yoga is a mind and body practice that encompasses several different physical, mental and spiritual techniques and disciplines. It is known to be a stress and/or anxiety reliever and is deeply rooted in multiple religions.
Various yoga disciplines include physical postures, meditation, and relaxation. This peaceful practice originated in ancient India and is now considered a “staple” in many countries and societies because of how it marries the mind and body in perfect synchronisation.
Apart from building your muscle strength and flexibility, yoga helps to greatly reduce acne breakouts and pesky pimples. It is also important to bear in mind that acne can be caused by stress, an unhealthy diet, dirt, pollution, and genetics.
Yoga aims to detoxify one’s internal bodily system by correcting one’s breathing patterns and stress management. Acne is considered to be a bodily imbalance and practising yoga brings you back to balance. While it is one of the most natural ways of healing acne, it is also crucial to follow up with a dermatologist and regular skincare routine if your acne is getting out of hand.
Breathing exercises such as pranayama relieve stress trapped in the body. Breathwork, sun, and moon salutations can increase the progress of the body’s detox which inherently rids one of the acne-causing toxins.
A common way of practising pranayama is the Nadi Shodhana, which is also known as alternate nostril breathing. This practice can be done anywhere at any point of time.
How this works:
- Sit in a comfortable position with your legs crossed or on your knees, and place your left hand on your left thigh.
- Keep your pinky finger as straight as possible, and exhale all the air out of your nose. Place your right thumb on your right nostril and inhale from your left nostril
- Ensure that your chin is aligned with your sternum. Tuck your right elbow in close to the side of your torso but do not flex or put pressure over your armpit.
- Exhale from your left nostril before closing it with your right middle finger, and inhale from the right nostril. Apply just enough pressure to block the opening for breath exchange.
- Repeat this practice for 5 minutes
2. For Pitta-Type Acne: Red Pimples
Pitta-type acne is mostly triggered by emotional imbalances such as stress and anger or when one feels uneasy. Backbend poses such as the hidden lotus pose and the fish pose are deeply calming on imbalanced emotions which create more negative energy than positive energy, upsetting the balance of emotions.
How the fish pose works:
- Lie on your back. Lift the heart region (chest) by propping yourself up on your elbows and draw back your shoulders.
- Imagine that an invisible string is pulling the crown of your head towards the floor and keep it as straight as possible.
- Remain in this pose for 30 seconds and repeat if necessary.
- For modifications, you can opt to place a bolster or a yoga block beneath your spine.
To boost blood circulation and increase the efficacy for pitta types of acne, save the shoulder stand and half-wheel/bridge poses for the end of your practice. These poses are deeply relaxing and can put you in a state of calmness and peace which sets the tone for your day or week.
How the shoulder stand works:
- Lie on your back. Bring both legs up and point them towards the sky.
- Using your core muscles, slowly lift up your hips until your chest is closer to your chin. Remain in this pose for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Bend your knees slowly and bring your body back to its initial position.
- Hug your knees to your chest and rock side to side
- Repeat if necessary.
3. For Vata-Type Acne: Whiteheads, Blackheads, and Milia
Airy Vata acne types are more susceptible to digestive issues during emotional imbalances. This results in fermentation in the gut as well as toxin buildup.
Poses such as the lotus pose are fantastic aids for digestion, and this allows for better toxin elimination and nutrient absorption.
Headstand poses, backward bends, and the plow pose relieve constipation which is a common cause for vata-type acne. It ensures circulation in the face and delivers vital nutrients that reduce acne.
How the backbend pose (wheel pose) works:
- Stand straight and push your hips and abdomen forward. Drop your neck back.
- Continue arching back slowly. Ensure that your hands are raised towards the sky during this step.
- Once you are unable to arch any further, bend your knees slowly until your palms are flat on the ground. Distribute your weight evenly.
- Remain here for 15 to 20 seconds. Repeat if necessary.
Practising the cobra and the locust pose can deliver the unexpected benefit of stimulating facial and neck muscles which lead to detox and cellular turnover. This may be an additional benefit if gut-related issues are causing more acne breakouts.
How the cobra pose works:
- Lie flat on your belly. Place your palms under your shoulders and push your hips slightly off the ground. If you are coming into this pose after doing downward dog and a plank, remember to take your time and steady your control before pushing all your weight forward.
- Keep your feet on the ground and legs outstretched. Arch your back slowly and set your gaze directly upwards or slightly towards the back.
- Repeat if necessary.
4. For Kapha-Type Acne: Deep-Rooted or Cystic Acne
Some medical and skincare experts explain that cystic acne is related to high hormonal imbalances. While this is true, this type of hormonal imbalance is also related to the Kapha Dosha.
Kapha Dosha is attuned to muscle growth, body strength, stability, weight, and the immune system. It is easily disrupted by oversleeping and excessive consumption of sweet or salty foods. If one continues to engage in these habits, it may lead to stagnation which increases the likelihood of acne breakouts.
Poses such as the lion pose and the boat pose stimulate the hormonal glands which help with regulating kapha-type acne. A good detox includes spinal twists, seated spinal twists, and chakrasana (wheel pose) which improve circulation and alleviate possible kapha-type acne breakouts.
How the supine spinal twist pose works:
- Lie flat on your back in savasana pose.
- When you exhale, draw your knees towards your chest and clasp your hands around them.
- Extend your left leg out and draw your right leg over towards your left side. Extend your right arm out along the floor at shoulder-height and face your palm downwards. Keep your gaze on the right.
- Shift your hips to the right slightly. Place your left hand on the outside of your right knee. Press your shoulder blades into the floor and try to make sure your right toes are touching the floor.
- Remain in this position for 10 to 25 breaths. Repeat if necessary.
Your strongest practice is your daily practice. It has been proven that your acne will improve and breakouts will decrease if you practice consistently.