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No need to splurge on expensive lotions and fancy potions. Yoga may be the answer to your winter skin woes.
“Yoga gives you a glow by boosting your circulation,” says Liz Lindh, a holistic skincare therapist and vinyasa yoga teacher at The Sanctuary at Two Rivers in Cabuya, Costa Rica. “Vital nutrients are more available, so there’s more efficient removal of cellular waste. Yoga also promotes lymphatic drainage, which reduces puffiness under the eyes and brightens the complexion.”
Lindh created this 9-pose sequence exclusively for YogaJournal.com as an all-natural alternative to the pricey cosmetic solutions. “My yoga practice has expanded my confidence, given me tools to manage stress, and helped me become a happy, healthy, vibrant woman,” she says. “None of this comes in a bottle and it cannot be bought.”
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Sit on your mat in Lotus Pose or Easy Pose. As you inhale, squeeze your eyes closed, tighten all of the muscles in your face, and make tight fists while bending your elbows. Exhale through the mouth as you open the eyes as wide as you can. Direct the gaze toward the Ajna Chakra (Third Eye) between the eyebrows or to the tip of the nose. Open your mouth wide, stick your tongue out toward your chin, open your hands, spread your fingers and lock your elbows. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
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Downward-Facing Dog Vinyasa
Come onto all fours, then straighten your legs into Downward-Facing Dog. From Downward-Facing Dog, move into Upward-Facing Dog, then back to Downward-Facing Dog. Keeping your tiptoes on the mat, place your feet hip-width apart. Inhale as you lower your hips toward the mat without allowing the thighs to touch the floor. Exhale to lift your hips back up to the sky. Repeat 21 times with breath.
This movement is inspired by one of the Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation. Repeating this movement 21 times per day is said to promote perfect health and longevity and to strengthen, purify, and balance the energy body.
From Downward-Facing Dog, step your feet back together and stretch your right leg up to the sky, opening your hips. Exhale the right foot forward and place it between your hands. Ground the left heel and angle the left toes slightly forward, align your right heel with your left arch with the feet as far apart as the length of your leg. Lead with the left arm to lift up into Warrior II.
Extended Side Angle Pose
From Warrior II, lengthen your waist by reaching your right arm forward over your bent knee. Inhale and stretch the left arm up across the sky. Exhale and place your right hand on the floor on the inside of your right foot (or on a block or place your forearm on your thigh). Reach the left arm to the sky first to create length across the shoulders, then reach that arm over your head. Flatten through your body, ground through the outer edge of your left foot and lift through the right arch for 10 breaths.
Inhale the right arm back up into Warrior II, exhale both arms down to frame the right foot. Step back and lower down into Plank, bending the elbows into Four-Limbed Staff Pose. Then glide forward to Upward-Facing Dog and press your hips up and back into Downward-Facing Dog. Repeat on the left side.
From Downward-Facing Dog, lower onto all fours, then shift onto your back. Bend your knees, place your feet parallel to each other hip-width apart and flat on the floor. Bring your hands to the floor near your ears, palms down and fingers pointing toward your shoulders and your elbows pointing to the sky. Keep the feet parallel as you lift up and don’t let the knees bow out to the sides. Press evenly into your hands and feet, straightening the elbows and stacking the shoulders above the wrists. Hold this shape for about 10 breaths. Gracefully bend your elbows as you lower down and hug your knees into your chest.
MODIFICATION Extend back over a large exercise ball so that your head is hanging upside down and arms are reaching back by your ears.
From your back, roll up and shift onto all fours. Press back into Child’s Pose. Reach for your heels and lift your hips directly above your knees. Roll onto the very top of your head. Keep your neck nice and long with the chin gently tucked. Place a little controlled pressure on the top of your head without pinching the neck. Hold for about 10 breaths. Release back into Child’s Pose.
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Bound Angle Pose
From Child’s Pose, lift up to kneeling. Sweep your legs forward and bring the soles of your feet together about two fists-width away from your groin with your knees opened out to the sides. Place your hands on the floor directly behind you to give your spine a little lift before softly folding over your legs and reaching the arms forward. Go for length in the spine and the waist rather than reaching down. Stay here for at least 20 breaths. Inhale as you slowly lift up to seated, then lower down onto your back in Reclining Bound Angle Pose.
MODIFICATION For tight hips, come into Reclining Bound Angle Pose first. Keep your feet together while lifting up the legs. Hold onto your feet and press your knees away from your body. You will be in the same position as the photo but on your back.
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Hug both knees into your chest to soothe the low back. Keep the right knee hugged in and lengthen the left leg along your mat. Place your left hand on your right knee and extend your right arm out to the side, perpendicular to your body. Exhale as you pull the right leg across your body into a twist, stretching your right knee to the floor. Stack the right hip above the left, turn your head to the right and close your eyes. Breathe deeply into the belly and low back, staying here for at least 30 breaths. Return to your back, lift your head and shoulders off the mat and kiss your knee to stretch the spine. Lie down again and switch legs. Repeat on the other side.
Hug both knees in to your chest, lift your head and shoulders, and squeeze into a tiny ball. Inhale and stretch out on your mat. Lengthen your arms down by your sides. Lengthen your legs out with your feet mat’s-width apart. Close your eyes and relax for 7 to 10 minutes. Soak up all of the good energy from your practice and remind yourself that you are wonderful, worthy, and beautiful!