Many forms of exercise improve circulation and give our faces a healthy, flushed appearance. But yoga enthusiasts credit the ancient practice for taking things one step further and actually helping to release toxins, relax overworked muscles that may be causing wrinkles and fine lines, massage organs (which contributes to overall good health) and, yes, promote blood flow to the cheeks like nobody’s business.
Whether you’re a yoga newbie or have been practicing yoga for years, you may not be aware of specific poses that help contribute to beautiful skin. Here are four yoga poses that experts say will leave you with the rosy glow of your dreams.
1. Camel Pose
Camel Pose is fantastic for skin because it increases circulation and blood flow to your face, while aiding in detoxifying the body and improving digestion, which helps produce radiant skin, says Dempsey Marks — founder of DempseyFit.com and creator of Pregame Fit. Like most yoga poses, it can be modified to suit the needs of beginners and advanced yoga practitioners. Marks explains how:
The basics: Begin kneeling with your knees hip-distance apart. Place your hands on top of your buttocks. Inhale, exhale, lean back. Keep your neck long and engage your core by drawing your belly button to your spine.
Beginners: This may be enough of a backbend for you. Breathe deeply here for six to eight long breaths, keeping your neck and spine long.
Intermediate: Deepen the backbend by allowing your gaze to follow along the ceiling. Breathe deeply here for six to eight long breaths, keeping your neck and spine long.
Advanced: If you feel comfortable, rest your palms on your heels. Breath deeply. Hold this pose for six to eight breaths.
2. Supported Headstand Pose
Annalisa Berns — author, yoga teacher and animal advocate at Big Bear Yoga — calls the Supported Headstand Pose one of the most important poses in yoga. In addition to creating feelings of harmony and balance, it also helps keep skin healthy and radiant. “Nothing creates vivacious rosy cheeks like yoga poses that bring your head under your heart,” Berns says. “Poses like Handstand, Shoulder Stand and Supported Headstand — these poses get the blood pumping, increasing circulation and stimulating all of the body — rosy cheeks and bright eyes included.”
More: The great big yoga pose guide
Berns cautions us to only practice this one with an experienced yoga teacher who can guide beginners using a blanket or yoga mat for cushioning so, please, be careful and follow her advice to consult with a teacher while trying this.
“Place the forearms to the ground or blanket (interlocking fingers), carefully placing the head in the cradle of the arms and hands, then lift the hips up high and shifts the shoulders and hips backward over the arms,” she describes. “When ready, bend your knees into the chest and then lengthen the legs overhead toward the ceiling.”
And to come out of the pose, bends your knees to your chest and drop the toes to the ground. You should take a moment to rest in Child’s Pose for a few breaths.
3. Legs Up the Wall Pose
If a Supported Headstand isn’t within your grasp right now, Berns suggests this alternative pose for beginners to try at home. “This pose massages the kidneys, adrenal glands, thyroid, thymus and diaphragm,” Berns says. “A bolster or folded blankets can be used under the hips. If the low back is uncomfortable with the prop of the blankets or bolster under the hips, remove the prop and perform the pose without.”
Here’s Berns’ guide on how to perform the pose:
Sit facing the wall, as close as you can get. Swing your legs up the wall, with buttocks as close to the wall as possible, laying down on the floor. Bend your knees, press into the feet to lift the hips off the ground, and slide the blankets or bolster under your hips. Lay back and relax. While in the pose, relax the eyes, neck, forehead, jaw and lips. Stay in the pose for 5-15 minutes to get the full benefit of the pose. To come out of the pose, remove the blanket or bolster, bend the knees and roll to the right side. Rest for a few moments, and then use the strength of the arms to help support the torso, pressing up to a seated position.
Berns says just 5-10 minutes in this pose can promote a well-rested look and help muscles in the body and face relax — which could mean fewer fine lines in the long run.
Lie on your back and hug your knees into your chest. Release your legs to the ground and your arms and legs extend out. Hands and feet should fall naturally towards the ground with palms facing the ceiling.
“A folded blanket under the head or knees can be helpful,” said Berns. “This pose calms the body and is beneficial for high blood pressure, relieving stress and leaving you looking and feeling refreshed and well-rested.” Berns says.