Above: Sheetal Rawal, scientist (human genetics) & founder of Apsara Skin Care
By: Marty S.
For a lot of people, yoga is their favorite exercise. If you don’t want to work up too much of a sweat but you still want to maintain a fit body, yoga is perfect for you. Physically, yoga can increase your core strength, tone your muscles, and improve your flexibility. Mentally, yoga is a good source of stress relief, and it can train you to approach everyday situations with more patience and calmness. Yoga isn’t as intense as other muscle-building or cardio workouts, but it can still help you stay active at any age.
Even if you’ve never done yoga in your life, you might have heard of a few exercises that get mentioned every once in a while: downward-facing dog, mountain pose, and tree pose, for example. However, did you know that there are certain yoga exercises that can help your skin become more ageless and stunning? Today, you will find out what those exercises are. Continue reading to learn 5 yoga poses and breathing exercises that can help you avoid early aging and sagging skin. Whether you practice yoga regularly or you are a yoga novice, you should try to incorporate these yoga poses and breathing exercises into your routine if you want your skin to look firm, glowing, and youthful.
Before we get started, we would like to caution you and say that we describe rough examples of the yoga poses and breathing exercises listed below. If you are interested in attempting any exercise we talk about today, please do your research and talk to a yoga instructor or Ayurvedic practitioner beforehand. Your safety should be the number one priority!
1. Tree Pose
Let’s start with an easy one: tree pose, also called “Vrksansana”. This yoga pose requires you to stand on one leg and place the other on the opposite thigh, as close to your pelvis as possible; if you are standing on your right leg, for example, your left leg will be placed on your right thigh, with your left knee pointing to the side. Your hands will be together and start at your chest, but as you get more comfortable with the position, they should stretch out towards the sky.
Tree pose is meant to test your balance and flexibility. As we age, our bodies become less flexible than they were when we were younger, and a stiffer body is often more prone to aches, muscle pain, and injury. Performing tree pose regularly can strengthen your core and improve your posture, which will help you perform tree pose for longer periods of time as well as keep your body firm and youthful.
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You may have heard of “planking” before, but the plank pose is a real yoga pose that can strengthen your core muscles. The plank pose is similar to a push-up; get into the same position as you would a push-up and hold it for as long as possible by using your core. The key is to keep your form as straight as possible, neither up in the air nor touching the ground. A standard plank pose requires you to support yourself with your forearms and toes, but if you are a beginner, you can use your hands instead of your forearms.
Because the plank pose focuses on your upper body strength, practicing it regularly can help you maintain a fit and toned body. This is particularly important if you want to eliminate sagging skin around your chest and arms.
Doing yoga regularly can tone your figure and this can typically translate into glowing, youthful skin. However, if you want a yoga pose that can directly firm up your skin and make those lines and wrinkles less visible, try palming. Palming isn’t a traditional yoga pose per se; rather, it’s a technique used to alleviate tired eyes. To try palming, you will need to rub your palms together until you generate a lot of heat. Then you’ll transfer that heat to your eye area by gently placing your hands over your eyes; don’t put any pressure on your eye area. This can be done a few more times.
Because of the heat generated through your hands, palming can be quite calming both physically and mentally. Palming is also thought to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, especially if you combine it with a gentle face massage.
Yoga is an excellent exercise to destress yourself. To learn other stress reduction tips to keep your mind calm and your skin, listen to this episode of the Apsara Skin Care podcast. Enjoy and please leave us a review on our iTunes podcast page!
4. Sitali Pranayama
Breathing exercises are important in yoga, as well. One of the easiest breathing exercises to learn is Sitali pranayama, which is translated as “cooling breath” because of the sensation it has on your tongue/mouth. To try it, you will need to curl your tongue and slowly inhale through your mouth; after that, you will slowly exhale through your nose. If you are not able to curl your tongue, you can try Sitkari pranayama, where you gently clench your teeth together and slowly inhale through your mouth.
Sitali pranayama and Sitkari pranayama is a good method of relaxation. Physically, the cooling effect of these two breathing exercises can help you keep cool during a hot day. Mentally, both of these breathing techniques can destress you and ease your worries. Because stress is a significant factor in early aging and sagging skin, Sitali pranayama and Sitkari pranayama may help you fade those signs of skin and firm up your skin.
Kapalbhati (translated as “Skull Shining Breath”) is a breathing exercise that focuses on gently inhaling through your nostrils and then exhaling with short, vigorous bursts by using your abdominal muscles. Depending on your experience with the exercise, kapalbhati can range anywhere between 20 to 100 repetitions, and it generally does not last more than 30 minutes. In Ayurveda, it is believed that kapalbhati can help flush out toxins from your system, and fewer toxins can lead to better health as well as fewer lines and wrinkles. It is also believed that kapalbhati can improve blood circulation, digestion, and mental clarity.
One thing to keep in mind is that kapalbhati is not meant to be used by everyone. This exercise is an advanced breathing technique so it is important to ease this into your routine if you want to practice this regularly. Performing kapalbhati too aggressively can do more harm than good and could cause lightheadedness, nose bleeds, and headaches. If you experience any discomfort after trying kapalbhati, it is best to use other breathing exercises like Sitali pranayama and Sitkari pranayama.
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