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Natural Awakenings NYC & Long Island

Radiant Skin With Yoga and Breathwork

by Martha Kein 

Happy spring. It’s time for all things new and that includes not just spring cleaning the home, but also our appearance. Let’s learn about how to refresh and revitalize that healthy glow in our cheeks the natural way, with yoga.  

Our skin is the largest organ in our body and it protects our muscles and bones, and releases toxins from our body through our pores. But it does much more than that; it reflects our age and how we’re feeling, so it’s important for us to take care of this amazing organ. 

Yoga, an ancient philosophy and lifestyle, offers many techniques to improve and strengthen our skin. Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning union of our body, mind and spirit. We will look younger and so will our skin. Practicing yoga can help us feel strong and healthy—mentally, emotionally and physically. Through breathing, movement and relaxation, our skin will maintain a healthy glow. There are some wonderful, easy yoga techniques that will help us stay younger, add life to our years and subtract years from our appearance.  

BREATHING 

The quickest and most effective way to rejuvenate skin is to purify the bloodstream by taking in extra oxygen.  Taking full, deep breaths in and out through the nose can increase the amount of oxygen in our bloodstream which is essential for proper and efficient functioning of the brain, nerves, glands and organs. Breathing techniques (called pranayama) rid the body of toxins and revitalize and rejuvenate the skin, keeping it looking healthy and vibrant.  

Try pranayama techniques for radiant skin. Alternate Nostril Breathing (also called Nadi Shodhana) is a favorite technique for calming, soothing and rejuvenating both body and mind. It helps relieve stress, and it’s a great “reset” tool when we’re feeling overwhelmed, worried or anxious. The breathing pattern for this exercise is Inhale, Switch, Exhale. 

Prepare:  

  • Sit in a comfortable, upright position on a mat on the floor or in a chair. Spine should be long and straight. Relax hips, shoulders and jaw. Left hand on the left knee with palm facing upward. Close our eyes.  
  • With the right hand, place the index finger and middle finger on the forehead between the eyebrows. The ring finger rests on the left nostril and the thumb  on the right nostril. (The ring finger will be used to close the left nostril and the thumb will be used for the right nostril.) 

Breathe: 

  • Inhale. Use the thumb to close the right nostril and inhale completely through the left nostril.  
  • Switch. Lift the thumb from the right nostril and close the left nostril with the ring finger.
  • Exhale. Exhale through the right nostril. 
  • Inhale. Inhale through the right nostril.  
  • Switch. Lift the ring finger from the left nostril and close the right nostril with the thumb.
  • Exhale. Exhale through the left nostril.  

CHECK: 

  • That’s one round of Alternate Nostril Breathing.  
  • Perform five to 10 rounds per sitting.  
  • Keep the breathing natural and gentle.  

Medical and health considerations:  As with any new exercise, stop if any discomfort is felt. It is important to learn and practice breath work under the supervision of a trained professional. Breath work is an excellent way to improve health and well- being, though it is not a substitute for medical treatment. Consult a doctor if there’s a medical condition.  

MOVEMENT 

Now that we’ve tried a breathing exercise to oxygenate and rejuvenate our skin, move on to a yoga flow for a healthy glow. 

RADIANT SKIN YOGA FLOW 

Radiant Skin Yoga Flow is a fun and effective series of two yoga poses that combine breathing and movement, and it’s known to be beneficial in refreshing and revitalizing our skin. We’ll flow from child’s pose, to cobra pose and back to child’s pose while breathing deeply through our nostrils. Try this in the morning and see how many compliments we get during the day.  

Move: 

  • Come into the child’s pose. Sit back on our heels and rest our forehead on a towel or mat. Breathe in and out three to five times. 
  • Come forward onto our belly. Rest the forehead on the towel or mat and place  fingertips in line with the tops of shoulders.   
  • Keep our elbows in toward our body. Gently press our shoulders back and down. 
  • Inhale and slowly lift our face up toward the sky and then allow the rest of our upper body to follow. Keep our hips on the ground. Breathe deeply in and out three to five breaths. 
  • Exhale and lower down onto our belly. Then, press back into the child’s pose. Relax all the muscles in the face. 
  • Repeat cobra/child’s pose three to five times. Then rest in the child’s pose for two minutes. 

BENEFITS: 

  • Strengthens the muscles around the spine. 
  • Lengthens the abdominal muscles and front of the neck. 
  • Strengthens and tones the liver and kidneys.  
  • Strengthens the shoulders and chest. 
  • Increases blood flow around the lower back and hips. 
  • Brings a healthy glow to the face and skin. 

CHECK: 

  • If we have back pain, perform only child’s pose. 
  • If our shoulders are uncomfortable, raise up only to where it is comfortable, or just perform child’s pose. 
  • Move easily from child’s pose to cobra pose. Notice how our body feels and choose the most nourishing choice. If you have knee situations, omit child’s pose and rest on our belly. 

Enjoy the beautiful weather this spring and face the world with a fresh glow and healthy skin using yoga and breathwork—natural ways to increase health, wellness and beauty. 

Martha Kein is the school director of The American Yoga Academy, a world-renowned, online, yoga teacher training school that’s been training and certifying yoga instructors for 30 years, and where all are welcome. For more information, call 973-731-9960 or email [email protected].