Healthy Beginnings

Yoga – the 5,000-year-old secret for healthy skin

Kathaleen Martin Midcalf stretches at her studio in Sparks. Photo: Macu Binnette Photography

I saw this comment on a poster: “Let sweat flow from your pores once a day to regenerate your skin.” At 57, I may become seriously dehydrated.

I hope you smiled, chuckled or laughed out loud at that comment. I also hope you believe it. There is a large amount of research showing just how good yoga asanas (poses) can be for your skin.

Inversions (poses such as down dog or standing forward bend, which places your head below your heart) increase oxygen flow by increasing circulation.

Practicing sun salutations, a common Vinyasa sequence, gets your heart beating faster, pumping more of that oxygenated blood throughout the body. When that blood circulation brings oxygen flowing to your skin, your skin is brighter and rosier, and you look healthier and more youthful.

Gentle twists can both improve digestion and reduce toxins. The skin is the largest organ of our body — kind of odd to think about, but true. Therefore, improving digestion and eliminating toxins is vital to healthy skin.

And, remember that adage about being what we eat? Fast foods, processed foods and too much food can dull our complexion. If you indulge, or overindulge, yoga can help restore that youthful vital look to your skin.

There is nothing like smoothing out lines and wrinkles to look years younger. Good news — yoga also reduces stress! Classes such as restorative, yin, or “calm and centered” (a specialty at The Yoga Pearl in Sparks) relaxes you so much you can’t help but smile — and smiling actually takes less energy than frowning, smooths out those lines and usually causes others to smile back. I recommend you do it often to avoid lines (except laugh lines) and wrinkles.

There is research to suggest that yoga can help to balance hormones. Now, we often think that imbalanced hormones just affect teenagers. If you are middle-aged, or live with someone who is, you know that it also affects that age group.

The combination of deep breathing — especially making that exhalation twice as long as the inhalation, commonly called 2:1 or 1:2 breath — and meditation is a potent combination for reducing stress, which helps to balance those hormones for teenagers and their parents.

There is also an emotional cleansing, which happens in a well-rounded yoga class (a class that has a balance between breathing exercises, physical exercises and meditation).

As you rest in savasana (also known as corpse pose — this might sound creepy, but is often called a yoga nap by my students, and the reason I secretly think they buy their passes), you often feel “wrung out” emotionally, cleansed of negativity. This looks good on you.

If you’ve never practice yoga before, I recommend taking a class with a qualified instructor to get the most out of your sessions. Yoga is something you can do every day to “let sweat flow from your pores to regenerate your skin.”

Reverend Dr. Kathaleen Martin-Midcalf is the founder and master teacher at The Yoga Pearl in Sparks, Nevada. She is an ordained minister who holds a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies, a master’s degree in natural health and a doctorate in natural health. For more information, call 775-750-7610 or visit