Whilst I’m sure many of you are yogi veterans, I have to say I’m quite new to the world of precision bending. For a long time I didn’t consider it complementary to my goals – I wanted to burn energy like a bonfire and had no time for the contemplative, introspective practice of yoga.
More worrying still was the knowledge that I could no longer touch my toes, at the tender age of 22. I could blame overly tight pants all I wanted, but the truth was I was petrified to attend a class of communal stretching lest my pitiful flexibility was discovered, and mocked!
I also failed to consider how beneficial the practice of yoga (or other meditative/visualization techniques) could be for our skin, and overall health.
Trawling the Internet for acne solutions, I once discovered an incredibly wise analogy that has since stuck with me. To improve your skin condition there is rarely one factor you can isolate and ‘fix’, rather you have to boost all aspects of your life and ‘raise the bar’ of your well-being.
I think of it like this:
(Little white lie – I would never really conjure images of graphs, or any other maths-related data in my head. But for the purposes of explanation, I’ll let it slide!).
The theory is that each of those columns representing varying aspects of your life, should be raised above a certain baseline in order to address your acne holistically. It is only when you let go of the little things and embrace the bigger picture that true healing can begin.
I thought this was an incredibly sensible & wise approach, and began to appreciate how the practice of yoga fits so perfectly into this holistic model.
The benefits are far-reaching, and even enough to tempt me with my brittle, locked-up, crooked old limbs:
- Increases flexibility & joint lubrication.
- Stretches muscles you never knew you had! And literally massages your internal organs, keeping the tissues stimulated and free from disease.
- Unites mind & body – anyone who’s thoughts flit around like a hyperactive sparrow can benefit from bringing them back to Earth via deep breathing and concentration.
- Learning to love yourself – how often do we set aside an hour to actually spend time with ourselves? By allocating time to stretch, focus and simply be, we are affirming our own self worth, and increasing vitality.
- Detoxification – by limbering up and prodding, poking and pinching those tissues which once lay dormant, you increase blood-flow throughout the entire body and assist in the removal of toxins.
- Greater alkalinity – deep breathing increases alkalinity by removing excess CO2 from your system.
- Learning to focus on and appreciate the flow of energy and bring peaceful calm to the mind.
I can happily say, this stiff and slightly senile student is sold! With so many amazing benefits it is clear that incorporating a couple of sessions of yoga a week into your routine could profoundly enhance your mental well-being and in turn, support a beautiful glowing complexion!
If you’re like me with my creaky-limb syndrome, I would suggest:
- Attending a small beginners class with a close friend who will still love you, even after you fall out of tree pose all over her mat. Beginner groups are great because there will be a teacher there to assist you, and correct any positions that might be a little off (thus preventing injury). It’s also incredibly calming to listen to someone’s voice guide you through a sequence of movements, and you’re sure to find yourself completely blissed-out by the end.
- Buying a beginners DVD that you can complete in 20 minutes at home. I was given a fantastic yoga DVD for Christmas, and it’s so easy to put on before breakfast while the kettle is boiling (a very, very slow kettle :)). The allure of sparing only 20 minutes is also incredibly motivating, and within a few weeks you can start to see the fruits of your (extremely enjoyable) labour!
Since I’ve been making the effort to flex my body & mind, I’ve enjoyed a deeper sense of calm and spiritual well-being that is really quite profound. And most importantly….I can now touch my toes!
What are your experiences with yoga? Do you believe it can improve skin by helping to balance the body/mind?