AN ARTICLE BY FREELANCE CONTRIBUTOR SALLY KEYS
Eight in 10 Americans are affected by stress, according to a Gallup poll, and that spells danger not only for our heart health, but also for our skin. Over the past two decades, study after study has shown that yoga has the power to lower levels of stress hormone (cortisol), which is a good reason why it is is part of therapies for everything from addiction recovery, right through to eating disorders. If you are worried that your skin is losing its luster, or that you are developing lines and wrinkles, a yoga retreat (alongside a healthy diet) can help you turn back the hands of time by keeping stress at bay and by promoting circulation and oxygenation of skin.
What Effect Does Stress Have on Skin?
High cortisol levels can hamper skin health by promoting inflammation - thus potentially worsening conditions such as acne, rosacea, and psoriasis. Some animal studies have shown that stress can also contribute to the development of skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology (APA) therefore recommends that those battling skin conditions take part in stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation and Tai Chi, while following the treatment recommended by their dermatologist.
Yoga can Reverse Skin Aging
A study published in the journal Future Science OA has found that practising yoga has powerful biomolecular effects that can reverse the process of skin aging. Asanas and pranayama lower activity in the sympathetic nervous system (which can become overactive when we are stressed). Additionally, yoga actually reduces the inflammatory response, thus enabling us to stave off skin sagging and the formation of lines and wrinkles. Finally, asanas that build strength and flexibility in the muscles promote better glucose uptake by the muscles, thus reducing levels of blood sugar in the body. Keeping blood sugar levels down is particularly important if you have a condition like diabetes, because high glucose levels hamper your immunity. This is the reason why people with diabetes tend to have a higher level of bacterial skin infections such as impetigo, folliculitis, etc.
What Asanas Should You Try Out for Beautiful Skin?
As mentioned above, asanas that promote good circulation can help skin cells function optimally. Three of the many asanas that do just this include the sarvangasana (or the shoulder stand - which promotes blood circulation to the face), utthanasana (or forward-bending pose, which boosts oxygen supply to the skin cells), and the trikonasana (or triangle pose - which opens up the chest and supplies abundant oxygen to the skin). Pranayama can also help you release stress, toxins, and negativity, so give it your full concentration at your next yoga class.
It is amazing to think that yoga - which quells stress, improves our mood, and hones our strength and flexibility - can also have beneficial effects on our skin. Since stress and inflammation are inexorably linked, lowering one can improve the other. At your upcoming yoga retreat, ask your yoga teacher about the best poses for circulation and don’t forget to practice what you learn when you get back home!