Acne has many causes and triggers – and Yoga addresses most of these issues by balancing the nervous system, stimulating the internal organs and lymphatic system to increase detoxification and proper elimination. This is achieved through various postures and breathing techniques. Meditation is often incorporated.
To keep your skin in a healthy condition, yoga teachers recommend you do specific breathing exercises. If your breathing is impaired or shallow because of asthma, smoking, incorrect posture, or lack of exercise, your cells may be starved of oxygen and unable to clear away waste products properly.
Although yoga comes from the Indian tradition, it is interesting to note that in Chinese medicine, the lungs and the skin (as well as the large bowel) are considered part of the same system of breathing and elimination. So to take care of your skin, you should begin from the inside and take care of your lungs.
Stress can also aggravate acne. When the mind is anxious, the body secretes many chemicals and hormones into the bloodstream which inhibit the natural functions of the body. Yoga including movements, breathing and meditation calms this process.
The traditional name for this is Nadi Sodhana or Nadi Shodan Pranayama but is commonly known as "alternate nostril breathing". Doing this brings an awareness of and control over the inflowing and outflowing breath, and helps to develop (in the longer term) a greater awareness of thoughts, feelings and mental states. It is immediately stress-releasing,
Technique: place your Right middle and index fingers on the centre of the forehead, then gently place your ring finger over the Left nostril and hold it closed. Your thumb should be beside the Right nostril but applying no pressure. Now take a deep, slow, even breath in through the Right nostril as you count to four, then hold the breath inside for four counts. Imagine the breath being held where your fingers are touching your forehead. Release the ring finger from the Left nostril and close the Right nostril with the thumb, breathing out for a count of eight. Focus on your lungs being completely emptied. Without breathing, make four counts, then take an in-breath through the Left nostril for a count of four; pause for four and breathe out through the Right nostril for a count of eight. No breath for a count of four and continue for another five rounds.
Place Right hand in position. Breathe in Right nostril for four, hold for four, breathe out Left nostril for eight, pause for four. Resume breathing in the Left nostril for four, hold for four, breathe out Right nostril for eight, pause for four. This is one round. Four to six rounds constitutes one session.
Do at least one session per day. Do a session any time you feel stressed during the day. In fact, you can do as many sessions as you like.
YOGA EXERCISE – SALUTE TO THE SUN
There are many yoga postures that can assist with skin conditions, but this one is all-encompassing and the best place to start. Three complete rounds of this exercise is needed to benefit but you can do more when you get better at it or on days when you have more time. If you want to use it as a type of aerobic exercise, do thirty rounds of Salute to the Sun focussing on moving each step in time with your breath. It is found in every book, DVD and class on yoga.
The steps are as follows:
10. Exhaling – bring right foot to meet your left foot and bend forwards, palms on floor.
11. Inhaling – straighten body while taking arms above head, stretch back slightly.
12. Exhaling – bring hands in prayer position to heart level.
This is half a round, leading with the right leg. To complete a whole round, repeat this cycle leading with the left leg.