Ask any person who practices yoga, and they’ll likely share how the discipline has benefitted their lives. It can revitalise your body and mind in preparation for the day ahead, or calm them before a long night’s sleep. It can improve your concentration and strengthen your muscles. It can also relieve stress and insomnia. Really, there’s no doubt about it: yoga is incredibly powerful.
But did you know there are certain postures that are especially effective for improving aspects of your health - like skin, blood pressure and lungs? In fact whenever I’m feeling stressed, ill, or my skin isn’t up to par, I always make sure to bring a few of these postures into my practice in order to realign. Here are some of my favourite ones for better skin, sleep and overall wellness - which I hope you find beneficial, as well.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Skin looking dull? Try downward dog. Likely one of the most well-known yoga postures, this inversion not only stretches your entire body - from your arms, right down to your calves - but it also causes blood to flow to your face, making your skin glow throughout the day.
It can also help you breathe easier, and make you feel less stuffed up. “Any inversions — including downward dog, headstands and bridge pose — can help open up sinuses and allow the flow of mucus if there is any nasal congestion,” said MD Rachna Shah, an allergist at Loyola Gottleib Memorial Hospital, in this Daily Burn article.
Downward dog also improves your posture, strengthens your bones, and helps with flexibility. What’s not to love?
The headstand pose, or sirsasana, is something that can take months - or years - to master. But there’s a reason you see so many yoga practitioners striking the pose on social media or at the studio. For one, it’s great for your body: it strengthens your core, neck, back and arms. But it can also reinvigorate your mind.
“People suffering from loss of sleep, memory and vitality have recovered by the regular and
correct practice of this asana and have become fountains of energy. The lungs gain the power to resist any climate and stand up to any work, which relieves one from
colds, coughs, tonsillitis, halitosis (foul breath) and palpitations. It keeps the body warm,” he writes.
Marichi’s Pose (Marichyasana III)
Marichi’s Pose, or Marichyasana III, is a sitting twist that feels great on the back. It can help combat stiffness in the lower back, relieve pressure on intervertebral disks and stretch your muscles. Putting pressure on your abdominal in this posture can improve digestion, but also make it a little harder to breathe, which can actually improve function. This posture also massages your organs - like your liver and kidney - to improve wellbeing, and help relieve menstrual pain in women. It’s my go-to after a long work day, spent seated at my desk.
Savasana – often called corpse pose – is practiced at the end of many yoga classes. But it’s not just an excuse to fall asleep on the mat. Rather, savasana is considered by many to be the most difficult pose in a practice. That’s because entering a truly relaxed state (without fidgeting or dozing off) is a lot harder than it looks. Those in savasana should be relaxed, but also be aware of all the tension being let go from their body as the minutes go by.
When done right, savasana has the power to help lower blood pressure, relieve stress, insomnia and tension, as well as improve concentration. It might look simple – but savasana is also very powerful.
Face yoga has gained popularity in recent years, as the practice claims to reduce wrinkles and leave skin looking more radiant. So, what does it look like? You probably already have the right idea. Face yoga entails engaging in a series of exercises - such as puffing out your cheeks, making a ‘surprised’ face, sticking your tongue out, or looking up at the ceiling - to tone the muscles in your face.
While some might be a little reluctant to believe in the benefits, a study published in JAMA Dermatology (which researchers believe to be the first clinical trial of the sort) assessed how facial exercises can improve skin appearance. The study was small, however concluded that by the end, the middle age women who participated looked younger by an average of three years.
Do you include these yoga postures in your yoga practice? How do they improve your own wellbeing? Let us know in the comment below – we’d love to hear from you!