By Mariam Alansari
Abstract: The purpose of this material is to link between Yoga practice and maintaining healthy skin. Also clarifying the claim of how Yoga cures skin failures like Wrinkles, Acne, and Atopic Dermatitis (known as Eczema). Furthermore, the material will attempt to provide clear understanding of the advantage of Yoga and can be invested.
The healing science of yoga is a centuries-old tradition of practices for improving both physical and mental health. Moreover, modern medical research suggests that correct and regular practice of Yoga can help prevent or treat many types of ailments while promoting general well being.
The Yogic physical exercise (Asana), breathing technique (Pranayama) and meditation (Dhyana) help the release of tension from the body and mind leading to strength and flexibility to muscles, helps massage and clean the internal organs by removing the toxins in the body, adjust the mind and control its function, creating positive thoughts and, finally, sending the right messages to the body
Sri Swami Sivananda  says: “Let any disease remain in your body. Do not bother too much. Do not fret and fume. Develop the powers of endurance and resistance. Strengthen your body, mind and nerves. Take plenty of open-air exercises, substantial nutritious food, medicated oil bath and plenty of rest. Have mental and physical recreation. Lead a well-regulated life. Be moderate in food, drink and enjoyments. Lead a spiritual life. All diseases will leave your body by themselves. All microbes will die, when your vitality, vigor and strength are at a flood tide, this is the secret of health and happiness” .
The Human Skin
The human skin works as an immune system for our internal organs, bones, and tissues against the cold, heat, wind, dust, sunshine, and diseases. Also, it works on regulating our body temperature . It produces and creates all sorts of liquids. It manufactures oils that function to protect the body against germs. The glands in the skin also make sweat in order to cool the body when it becomes overheated and the water evaporates . It is also an easy way to get rid of body chemicals when it needs to .
The hormones and the activity of the glands create the type of skin we have, controls the level of acceptance and resistance against skin diseases, and the level of response to the treatment. The skin is affected by misuse of skin products, wrong eating/drinking habits, and/or stressful lifestyle; it may cause allergic reaction or make a skin disease worse.
A wrinkle is a fold in the skin. Typically it appears as a result of facial expressions, aging, sun damage, smoking, poor hydration, and various other factors . Most of the people like to have free skin and hate to have wrinkles considering it the sign of getting old and not enjoying life as if they are younger. It could cause them emotional depression.
Many factors can make symptoms of a skin allergy or disease, like redness, burning and itching skin, and the symptoms vary from person to another. It can lead to having acne or dermatitis or any other skin condition. Those conditions cause irritation and inflammation to the skin and must be medically treated or it would make the condition worse and cause pain and discomfort. Skin conditions are stimulated by many different reasons like, hormone disorder, immune system disorder, genetic, and/or environmental factors like the weather, clothing, food, and chemicals.
Acne and eczema are two skin diseases. Acne is a disorder resulting from the action of hormones and other substances on the skin’s oil glands (sebaceous glands) and hair follicles. These factors lead to plugged pores and outbreaks of lesions called pimples. It usually occurs on the face, neck, back, chest and shoulders. It is most common in adolescents, young adults, women during and/or after pregnancy, and women during the menstrual cycle. Although acne is usually not a serious health threat but it can be a source of significant emotional distress .
Eczema is a long lasting disease that affects the skin, it becomes extremely itchy which leads to redness, swelling, cracking, weeping clear fluid, crusting, and scaling. It affects people at any age and in different places in the body. Emotional factors such as stress can be caused and it can make the condition worse . The emotional factor is what the previous conditions have in common; some people fail hard to cope with their skin disease especially when it is in the face area, depression and embarrassment then destroys them emotionally.
Role of Yoga in Healing Skin Failures
Yoga practice can support the medical treatment for these conditions indirectly, as it help overcome the symptoms of depression and discomfort, and provide relieve from the stress caused by it.
Skin diseases, especially, chronic ones can break down the person spirit, self-confidence, and motivation. In some cases, it can cause stress and depression. This is where yoga takes place. Yoga, allows understanding the nature of hygiene and health in which one can monitor himself in avoiding chronic physical and mental break downs, and can manage to control the side effects behind his skin conditions. Also, through Yoga, one can develop his self-awareness, self-acceptance, well-being, as well as improving focus, emotions, and cognitive ability.
When Yoga is practiced correctly, it helps increase the circulation of blood to the face and bring the required amount of oxygen and nutrients to refresh and eliminate toxin causing substance. Also, it reduces the negative effects of stress on the mind and body and can help the body cope with aging, feeling younger and fresher .
Emotional factors such as stress and depression can make the eczema condition worse. Therefore, it is recommended to manage the stress through relaxation techniques; what better than breathing and meditation techniques?
Kapalbhati is one of the most beneficial pranayama and has proven to be effective in several disorders that include even several types of tumors and skin problems .
Kapalbhati means “Cleansing Breath” through the nostrils. To perform the exercise, a practitioner should sit comfortably in one of the yogic crossed-leg positions, with the back erect, and the back of the wrist rests comfortably on the knees and palms facing up. Keeping the mouth closed the practitioner then starts breathing in and out rapidly contracting the stomach muscles and pulling them back towards the spine on each sharp expulsion of air. Dr. Sanjeev in his posted article  suggests practicing half an hour of Pranayama techniques for people having skin problems.
Fifteen to half an hour of meditating is enough to relax the body and mind . Any form of meditation like stage-by-stage or OM chanting can be performed easily at home. Meditation leads to a deeper level of relaxation, tranquility, improves blood circulation, enhances the immune system, increases serotonin production which influences mood and behavior, and many more.
Bikram Yoga is named for its creator ‘Bikram Choudhry’, often called ‘Hot Yoga’. This type of yoga consists of a series of twenty six postures completed in a recommended room temperature of a hundred and five degrees Fahrenheit accompanied by a sixty percent humidity level .
Bikram Yoga for Effective Skin Conditions
Bikram Yoga provides a good stretch to the muscles, clears the circulation system, and resulting from the heat it opens the pores of the skin and allows complete detoxification of the body . The effectiveness of this type of yoga on some skin conditions like eczema is not accurate although there are many testimonials given about it. Many people have posted on the internet their experience with Bikram Yoga and how it helped them with their eczema, however, these are often unreliable sources. A local skin specialist in Bahrain  agreed with the fact that Bikram yoga might make the condition worse due to the high humidity. People suffering from eczema should maintain cool, stable temperature and consistent humidity level. Personally, the eczema condition prevents me from sitting in a sauna or a steamy room as my skin gradually starts to become red and itchy. On the other hand, it might be helpful for the condition of Acne.
Furthermore, the humidity factor in Bikram class helps open the pores of the skin and reduce the size of the pimple; noting that if the level of humidity is too high, then the condition might get worse.
For the health of your skin and to gain the benefit of the Yoga session please perform the following steps:
• Make sure the skin is clean; take a shower before the class; and avoid makeup; it stops the sweat in its tracks creating a breading ground for pimples.
• Avoid coming to the class with heavy hair products like gel and conditioner to prevent it from clogging pores on the face during exercise. Wearing a bandana on the head is an option.
• Clean the yoga mat regularly.
• Use two fresh towels, place one towel on the mat for floor postures, and the other towel is for the face to keep the skin as clean as possible.
• After class avoid touching the face with your hands and avoid touching anything else, first wipe the face with a wet clean towel or anti-acne cleansing cloth, or better wash the face and hands immediately with warm water and a proper soap.
Yoga practice can assist the medical treatment of a skin disease or allergy. It builds the self-awareness and life stability but it does not cure it. However, medical treatment is always required. Research is still going on to explore the benefits of Yoga, in general, on healing the skin conditions.
It is advisable to explore the benefits of yoga treatment, rationally, for skin failure. This will allow skin patients to know what Yoga is, bearing in mind that not everyone is going to be affected and detoxify similarly.
I would like to thank Prof Dr W E Alnaser, Vice President for planning and Development for editing this material and offering fruitful advice on the subject.
References James Hewitt (1977) The Complete Yoga Book; Schocken Books Inc, The United States.  Sri Swami Sivananda (2000); Easy Steps to Yoga; The Divine Life Society, India.  Wikipedia, Thermoregulation in humans; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoregulation#Thermoregulation_in_humans.  Dr. Loretta J. Standley (2000-2011) The Integumentary Skin System; https://www.drstandley.com/bodysystems_integumentary.shtml.  Wikipedia – Wrinkles; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrinkles.  National institutes of Arthritis NIAMS – Acne;
https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Acne/default.asp. National institutes of Arthritis NIAMS – Eczema; https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Atopic_Dermatitis/default.asp.  Dr. Sanjeev (2009) kapalbhati pranayama for skin treatment; https://www.indiastudychannel.com/resources/48654-Yoga-Kapalbhati-pranayama-for-skin-diseases.aspx.  Vanderbilt University – Health Psychology; https://healthpsych.psy.vanderbilt.edu/BikramYoga.htm.  Dr. Khalid Al-Arrayed, consultant dermatologist, STD & Laser – private Communication.
Mariam Alansari is a certified Yoga teacher. She teaches Yoga sessions in Janabiya, Kingdom of Bahrain.