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NamasYAY for Your Skin: Could Yoga Help with Skin Disease?

We explore the research around yoga to better understand the mind-skin connection.

We’ve all seen the pictures on social media: fit-looking yoga devotees effortlessly posing in ridiculously picturesque landscapes. But forget about the lean limbs and envy-inducing scenery for a moment – have you ever looked closely at their skin?

It’s possible that the connection between yoga and skin can be the result of more than a well-placed Instagram filter. Research suggests that consistent “Omm” sessions could benefit your immune system.1 With that in mind, is it possible that yoga can help with an immune-related condition like psoriasis?

Before you run off to the nearest yoga studio, keep in mind that yoga is not a definitive way to reduce your psoriasis symptoms. There’s much more to consider, and it’s important to always speak with your doctor if you’re looking for ways to improve your flare-ups. With that said…

Understanding the mind-skin condition connection

We know that stress could potentially be a trigger for a number of skin conditions, including psoriasis.2 But what about the opposite? Could deep relaxation techniques such as yoga help reduce flare-ups and benefit your skin? Here’s what we found.

The stress-relieving effects of yoga have long been documented, but it is only in recent years that scientists have begun to understand the true extent of the benefits.3 Thanks to new imaging techniques and blood sampling methods, research suggests that exercise has a profound calming effect on the nervous system4 by helping to regulate brain chemistry.5 The combination of stretching, breathing and meditation exercises regularly used in yoga help to lower levels of stress chemicals (cortisol6 and adrenaline7) while helping to increase the production of the feel-good ones, such as GABA, serotonin and dopamine.8

Why is this important? As we mentioned before, it is because stress could possibly be a trigger for psoriasis symptoms.9 The calming state of yoga could help reduce stress, and therefore, may help you stay further away from a flare-up.

Sun salutations for a sunnier outlook 

Some suggest the mood-boosting effects of yoga can help those living with a skin condition to feel more positive about their symptoms. Studies have examined this thinking, showing that people who regularly perform yoga tend to have a more optimistic view of the world10 and may even have a higher tolerance for pain.11 Specifically, this research reported improved sleep and quality of life, which ultimately helped strengthen the perception of health, well-being and disposition.12

And what about psoriatic arthritis?

If you are living with psoriatic arthritis, the joint mobilizing benefits of yoga could potentially be beneficial for you.13 For example, our friends over at PsA and Me turn up the heat when it comes to yoga: hot yoga. Although this is not proven, some PsA community members report a reduction in joint pain, improvement in flexibility and lower stress levels when practicing hot yoga. Read the full article about Hot yoga and PsA for more.

Living with any disease or condition can be stressful in itself, and an outlet where you can remain calm and positive may make a huge difference to your state of mind, and potentially your skin too. While some firmly believe in the power of a yoga session – it’s always best to speak with your doctor before adding any new activity into your routine. If you’re given approval to begin practicing, don’t forget to have someone take a picturesque photo of you holding the appropriately named Warrior Pose.

Namaste.

1. Penetrating Postures: The Science of Yoga. Alice G Walton. Forbes.http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2011/06/16/penetrating-postures-the-science-of-yoga/#33226d696722

2.  Stress and quality of life in psoriasis: an update. Basavaraj KH1, Navya MA, Rashmi R. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Jul;50(7):783-92. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21699511

3. Can Yoga Help Your Skin Problems? Studies Say Yes. Sheila Jalalat, M.D. · November 3, 2015. http://www.dermstore.com/blog/yoga-benefits-on-skin/

4. Effects of yoga on the autonomic nervous system, gamma-aminobutyric-acid, and allostasis in epilepsy, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Streeter CC1, Gerbarg PL, Saper RB, Ciraulo DA, Brown RP. Med Hypotheses. 2012 May;78(5):571-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22365651

5. The Scientific Basis Of Yoga Therapy, Dr Timothy McCall. Yoga Journal http://www.yogajournal.com/article/teach/the-scientific-basis-of-yoga-therapy/

6. Penetrating Postures: The Science of Yoga. Alice G Walton. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2011/06/16/penetrating-postures-the-science-of-yoga/#33226d696722 

7. Can Yoga Help Your Skin Problems? Studies Say Yes. Sheila Jalalat, M.D. · November 3, 2015. http://www.dermstore.com/blog/yoga-benefits-on-skin/

8. Penetrating Postures: The Science of Yoga. Alice G Walton. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2011/06/16/penetrating-postures-the-science-of-yoga/#33226d696722

9. Stress and quality of life in psoriasis: an update. Basavaraj KH, Navya MA, Rashmi R. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Jul;50(7):783-92. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21699511

10. Exploring the Health Benefits of Yoga: A Review. Theresa A. Schreiber, Brandi S. Niemeier. World Journal of Medical Research Volume No 6. http://www.npplweb.com/wjmr/fulltext/2/1#ref1

11. Yoga for anxiety and depression. Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School. http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression

12. Exploring the Health Benefits of Yoga: A Review. Theresa A. Schreiber, Brandi S. Niemeier. World Journal of Medical Research Volume No 6. http://www.npplweb.com/wjmr/fulltext/2/1#ref1

13. Yoga and Tai Chi for Psoriasis. National Psoriasis Foundation https://www.psoriasis.org/treating-psoriasis/complementary-and-alternative/yoga-and-tai-chi

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