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Deep Breathing and Acne

To improve the health and appearance of your skin, Yoga teachers of all schools will attest to the value of breathing correctly. There is a part of the Yoga system devoted to breathing – this is called Pranayama and is often defined as breath control. Most Yoga sessions will begin and end with conscious, deep breathing practises and the Yoga routines themselves are co-ordinated with the breath.

Pranayama is made up of two words – Prana and Ayama. Prana means vital life force or energy. Ayama means expansion or extension. When put together Pranayama means "expansion or extension of the dimension of prana". Taken to its fullest potential, Pranayama offers the method whereby life force can be activated to go beyond the normal limitations and attain a higher state.

However, when employed simply, breath control improves the performance of every cell, all tissues, internal organs and systems. Breathing is the most vital process of the body. It is intimately linked with the functioning of the brain, which controls all aspects of the body including hormone secretion and immune system regulation, both of which are hugely important when dealing with acne. Breathing correctly can detoxify the body by increasing the efficiency of cleansing processes. Breathing itself rids the body of toxins.


We breathe about 15 times per minute, and about 21,500 times per day and although this is mostly an unconscious process, we can bring conscious control to it at any time. Most of us haven't breathed correctly since we were little children when our bodies were flexible and our minds mostly untroubled. With poor posture including sitting in chairs too much, not exercising enough and through even minor injuries, our body's flexibility reduces which in turn reduces our ability to breathe fully. Our minds can also become inflexible, and we shallow-breathe quickly when frustrated and angry or hold our breath when anxious or scared. So depending on the pattern of our thoughts, it is easy to see how our breath can become disrupted thus disrupting the rhythms of the brain which can lead to physical symptoms too.


Firstly, it is good to begin by observing exactly how you are breathing right now. Are you breathing through your nose or your mouth? Are you breathing quickly or slowly? Do you think you are breathing deeply or shallowly? Notice what part of your chest is expanding – is it the lower part, or the sides of your ribs, or the top of your lungs? Notice that the air coming in is cool and the air flowing out is warmer.

Just noticing these things will automatically being to slow down your breathing rate and establish a more relaxed and natural rhythm. Begin noticing your breathing many times throughout the day.

But to go even further, the following exercise is very helpful to do every day.


Abdominal or deep breathing is the most natural and efficient way to breathe. It is the way we breathed as babies, and you can watch a baby's belly rise and fall when they are sleeping. This is what you are aiming for.

To prepare:

  • Do this at a time when you will not be disturbed for at least 10 minutes.
  • Be dressed in comfortable, loose clothing if possible.
  • Lie on a soft but firm surface, such as a carpeted floor or yoga mat.
  • Be in a comfortable temperature setting with no windy drafts or scorching sunlight.

To begin :

  • Lie in a comfortable position on your back with arms by your sides and eyes closed.
  • Become aware of the breath without trying to control it at all. Let it be natural.
  • Continue observing the natural breath for a few minutes, until it feels right to continue on.
  • Place your right hand on the tummy, just above the navel (belly button) and your left hand on your heart area.
  • All breath should be through the nose – inhaling and exhaling.
  • Inhale deep downwards, noticing the diaphram draw down into the abdomen, expanding it and pushing the navel to its highest point. Expand the abdomen as much as possible, without breathing sideways or expanding the rib cage.
  • Breathing out, contract the diaphragm to return to its place up under the ribs and allow the navel to move downwards, compressing towards the spine.
  • The right hand should move up each time you breathe in and move down each time you breathe out.
  • The left hand should not move at all with the breath.
  • There should not be any tension at all in the abdomen, and don't try to force the movement in any way.
  • The timing of the in-breath and the out-breath should be slow and even. There should be a little pause at the end of the in-breath and again when the out-breath is complete.
  • Continue for about 10 minutes.
  • Come up slowly after this exercise and drink 2 glasses of water.

You will notice the benefits of this deep breathing on your mental state very quickly, and an improvement in your skin within 2 – 6 weeks. This improvement continues as you maintain your deep breathing practises. 

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