Many patients often feel unhappy or dissatisfied with traditional medical treatment plans and therefore turn to complementary medicine that more aligns with their personal beliefs and philosophy to life.[1,2] In this approach, therapies such as yoga can be another potential treatment option. As interest in yoga has increased from beyond an ancient Indian practice to more of a modern physical and mental health exercise, it is now a potential possibility as an additional treatment since many conditions incorporate mental health complications. Patients are, ideally, no longer defined by their disease, but rather as persons suffering from ailments that can be treated with multiple options.
What Is Yoga?
While many individuals are unfamiliar with yoga, most associate it with the ancient practices of India. Indian practitioners first introduced yoga to the western world of the United States around the early 1890s. For individuals more familiar with yoga, it may seem a little daunting and unfamiliar as yoga can be further classified into many different parts or styles. Finding the style that is best or most effective is dependent on the individual person, and a study contrasting them demonstrated that the most effective yoga style was the one most appropriate for personal preference and availability. While these different styles can have different names, here are some of the most common styles of yoga:[6-8]
Hatha yoga – a more basic, gentle yoga ideal for beginners that teaches the poses
Vinyasa yoga – an active yoga that includes high-intensity intervals to increase heart rate
Iyengar yoga – a detail-oriented yoga that emphasizes proper form
Ashtanga yoga – a specific order yoga that follows a sequence of set six poses
Bikram® yoga – includes a sequence of 26 poses in humid, high heat over the span of 90 minutes
Hot yoga – while it is similar to Bikram® with its high heat and humidity, it also allows for more flexibility and variety of poses
Kundalini yoga – a more spiritual yoga focused on pairing poses with breathwork, chanting, and meditation
Yin yoga – a slow form of yoga to help calm body through longer-held poses
Restorative yoga – a subdued form of yoga to help encourage relaxation of the body
How Can Yoga Help Diseases?
While many of the studies of yoga in medicine have been conducted in India, the growing number of studies in the rest of the world have demonstrated that yoga has consistent health benefits. Yoga can be utilized as a stress-reducer; it can be used to help alleviate stress associated diseases and conditions. This type of mind-body connection of yoga can reduce biological stressors which in turn can help reduce inflammation and can lead to a reduced risk of inflammation-related diseases.[10,11] Yoga can help with diseases such as coronary heart disease, depression, high blood pressure, as well as other diseases.[12-14] In a Harvard study, up to 80% of visits to a care provider were due to stress, but often less than 3% of those care providers provided stress counseling for their patients. While yoga itself may help improve medical conditions, patients who utilize yoga may also be more likely to have a healthier lifestyle overall than those who don’t practice yoga.
How Can Yoga Help My Skin?
Although yoga is not a traditionally accepted treatment for skin diseases, many skin diseases are often related to stress and yoga can be used to help alleviate the stress that is commonly associated with skin diseases.[10,15] Patients suffering from acne had more positive perceptions about the use of yoga and other complementary medicine therapies because it helped improve the psychological implications of the disease. Yoga can help improve skin diseases not only through the reduction of stress but also through improved fitness and circulation.[18,19] Your skin condition can be caused by stress and also psychologically cause more stress due to the appearance; yoga can potentially help with both aspects.[18,20-22]
Can Yoga Hurt My Skin?
One of the yoga styles is hot yoga, practiced in sweltering heat designed to increase sweating during the physical fitness activity. The heat from the steam can irritate skin, and the dilated blood vessels can potentially darken skin spots as well.[23-25] In a case study, the hot temperatures of Bikram® yoga worsened one patient’s rosacea; while her care provider permitted her to continue practicing yoga, she was advised to avoid the high heat and instead practice another type of yoga. Be sure to rinse your body after practicing sweat-inducing activities to avoid potential development of rashes and infections.
If you are new to yoga, please be advised to follow your teacher’s appropriate instructions. Beginning yoga students should proceed with caution and avoid extreme poses and forceful breathing in order to avoid injury.
* This Website is for general skin beauty, wellness, and health information only. This Website is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. The information provided on this Website should never be used to disregard, delay, or refuse treatment or advice from a physician or a qualified health provider.
Astin JA. Why patients use alternative medicine: results of a national study. JAMA.1998;279(19):1548-1553; PMID: 9605899 Link to Research.
Schernhammer ES, Haidinger G, Waldhor T, et al. Attitudes about the use of complementary and alternative medicine in cancer treatment. J Altern Complement Med.2009;15(10):1115-1120; PMID: 19848548 Link to Research.
Udupa KN, Singh RH. The scientific basis of yoga. JAMA.1972;220(10):1365; PMID: 5067335 Link to Research.
Strauss S. Positioning Yoga: Balancing Acts Across Cultures. Bloomsbury Academic; 2005.
Cramer H, Lauche R, Langhorst J, et al. Is one yoga style better than another? A systematic review of associations of yoga style and conclusions in randomized yoga trials. Complement Ther Med.2016;25:178-187; PMID: 27062966 Link to Research.
A Beginner's Guide to 8 Major Styles of Yoga. 2017; Link to research. Accessed July 24, 2017.
Yoga for Beginners: 9 Types of Yoga to Try. 2015; Link to Article. Accessed July 24, 2017.
Cramer H, Lauche R, Langhorst J, et al. Are Indian yoga trials more likely to be positive than those from other countries? A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Contemp Clin Trials.2015;41:269-272; PMID: 25705015 Link to Research.
Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Christian L, Preston H, et al. Stress, inflammation, and yoga practice. Psychosom Med.2010;72(2):113-121; PMID: 20064902 Link to Research.
Buric I, Farias M, Jong J, et al. What Is the Molecular Signature of Mind-Body Interventions? A Systematic Review of Gene Expression Changes Induced by Meditation and Related Practices. Front Immunol.2017;8:670; PMID: 28670311 Link to Research.
Cramer H, Lauche R, Haller H, et al. A systematic review of yoga for heart disease. Eur J Prev Cardiol.2015;22(3):284-295; PMID: 24491402 Link to Research.
Cramer H, Lauche R, Langhorst J, et al. Yoga for depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Depress Anxiety.2013;30(11):1068-1083; PMID: 23922209 Link to Research.
Cramer H, Haller H, Lauche R, et al. A systematic review and meta-analysis of yoga for hypertension. Am J Hypertens.2014;27(9):1146-1151; PMID: 24795403 Link to Research.
Nerurkar A, Bitton A, Davis RB, et al. When Physicians Counsel About Stress: Results of a National Study. JAMA Intern Med.2013;173(1):76-77; PMID: 23403892 Link to Research.
Americans who practice Yoga report better wellness, health behaviors. 2015; Link to Article. Accessed July 21, 2017.
Magin PJ, Adams J, Heading GS, et al. Complementary and alternative medicine therapies in acne, psoriasis, and atopic eczema: results of a qualitative study of patients' experiences and perceptions. J Altern Complement Med.2006;12(5):451-457; PMID: 16813509 Link to Research.
Jalalat S. Yoga for dermatologic conditions. Cutis.2015;95(4):E23-25; PMID: 25942035 Link to Research.
Black DS, Cole SW, Irwin MR, et al. Yogic meditation reverses NF-kappaB and IRF-related transcriptome dynamics in leukocytes of family dementia caregivers in a randomized controlled trial. Psychoneuroendocrinology.2013;38(3):348-355; PMID: 22795617 Link to Research.
Kamradt JM. Integrating yoga into psychotherapy: The ethics of moving from the mind to the mat. Complement Ther Clin Pract.2017;27:27-30; PMID: 28438276 Link to Research.
Basavaraj KH, Navya MA, Rashmi R. Stress and quality of life in psoriasis: an update. Int J Dermatol.2011;50(7):783-792; PMID: 21699511 Link to Research.
Torales J, Barrios I, Villalba J. Alternative Therapies for Excoriation (Skin Picking) Disorder: A Brief Update. Adv Mind Body Med.2017;31(1):10-13; PMID: 28183072 Link to Research.
RENBOURN E. The History of Sweat and the Sweat Rash From Earliest Times to the End of the 18th Century. Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences.1959;14(2):202-227; Link to Research.
This Is What Hot Yoga Is Really Doing to Your Skin. Shape Magazine, 2016; Link to Article
Does the heat in sauna or steam rooms trigger melasma? 2014; Link to Article.
Kim NN, Wickless HW. Pustular eruption on face. J Fam Pract.2010;59(7):399-401; PMID: 20625570 Link to Research.
Cramer H, Krucoff C, Dobos G. Adverse events associated with yoga: a systematic review of published case reports and case series. PLoS One.2013;8(10):e75515; PMID: 24146758 Link to Research.