When I was in my 20s, I found I was struggling with something I had hope would end with my awkward teenage years: acne. It was uncomfortable and made me feel so self-conscious, so I tried every existing medication my dermatologist prescribed me, telling myself I was just one antibiotic away from clearing up my acne for good.
None of them worked, and to my frustration, some of them even worsened my symptoms. I felt hopeless and resigned to having pimples on my face for the rest of my life. When a friend suggested I try yoga, I was skeptical—could spending a few hours a week stretching on a mat really be the key to clearing up my skin when Western medicine was failing?
The answer was yes. I didn’t go to a class, do a downward-facing dog, and come back up to find my acne had magically vanished. But within a few months, my skin was looking a whole lot better. The stress-busting benefits of a regular yoga practice helped, of course, but for me focusing on poses specifically targeted toward hormone balance, digestion, sleep, and work stress was the key to getting rid of skin flare-ups.
Here's how finding yoga cleared up my skin and the specific poses that made it happen:
1. Yoga helped me balance my hormones naturally.
Hormones are a huge culprit when it comes to acne. Especially when you have acne around the chin and jawline, it probably means your hormones are out of whack—so I made use of poses like twists, locust pose, plow pose, and headstand, which helped balance out my hormones. You'll notice that most of these poses are inversions. That's because when you reverse blood flow and bring your toes above your head, it's beneficial for the thyroid, heart, and lungs, all of which are key balancing hormones.
2. Yoga improved my metabolism, digestion, and inner fire.
Yoga helped restore my out-of-whack gut, which, in turn, cleared up my acne and made my skin soft and radiant. Poses like triangle, wind-relieving pose, staff pose, and revolved lunge were all integral to helping my digestion, as was learning to use breath of fire effectively.
3. Yoga helped me sleep better.
Sleeping better allowed my hormones to fall back into their natural balance, helped me relax, gain more energy throughout the day, and improved my focus, performance, and creativity. Some nights I would practice yoga, go to bed, and wake up with clearer skin. It was incredible.
To sleep better, I utilized poses like standing forward fold, triangle, shoulder stand, plow pose, headstand, and, of course, savasana.
4. Yoga helped me balance my emotions and gain control of my moods.
Emotions have quite a bit of power over our body’s health, and negative emotions throw our hormones out of the orbit, contributing to vital organ damage (liver, kidneys, and adrenal glands), spike cortisol levels, affect our general health and well-being, and yes, contribute greatly to acne breakouts.
When looking to balance my emotions, I utilized tree pose, warrior 1 pose, seated forward bend, cobra pose, and child's pose. Simply sitting and breathing was also amazing for my mood.
5. Yoga helped me manage stress.
Stress is one of the factors that triggers acne, and I had a lot of it at work. So I did some yoga in my office, which helped alleviate stress throughout the day.
While in my office I did seated crescent moon pose, extended mountain pose, upward-facing dog, extended side angle, forward fold, and seated twist. Sure, I got a few weird looks, but it was worth it!
When I wasn't at work, I practiced other stress-busting poses like reclining bound angle pose, legs-up-the wall, and savasana.
Yoga restored my health in a complex, complete way and as a result cleared up my skin from acne—and I will be forever grateful for that. If you, too, struggle with acne, I hope you take my advice and give some of these poses a try!
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