The “yoga glow” has always seemed like one of those wellness-world scams, like six pack abs or 10,000 steps. The idea of being able to improve your skin as an accidental side-effect of your flow may sound too good to be true. But according to the pros, it actually does check out, and to some extent, you really *can* stretch your way to happier and healthier skin.
“Stretching delivers extra blood flow to skin,” says Alain Saint-Dic, head of training and development at Stretch Relief. In the short term, that extra blood rush can give your face a nice, instant flush. With that same blood flow, you also add nutrients and hydration to help cleanse and strengthen skin, while also minimizing signs of aging.
Over time, Saint-Dic says the stress-relieving effects of stretching regularly can also offer some more long-term benefits for skin. How? We know that the stress hormone, cortisol, is closely linked to skin health. When cortisol spikes, it can lead to acne. So it makes sense, then, that doing an activity to help balance stress levels—aka stretching—can benefit your skin.
“Increased stress levels have a negative impact on overall skin health, so stretches that target high stress areas in the body—such as the neck, shoulders, and lower back—will have a positive effect on skin health,” explains Saint-Dic.
But before you go tossing your serums in the trash, it’s worth noting that while these practices can help improve skin health, they’re not going to do it alone. “Stretching can help loosen muscles and may promote good circulation, and optimal delivery of oxygen and nutrients is essential for skin functioning,” says board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. But beyond that, it’s unclear whether the results will really be *that* notable. Still, it definitely can’t hurt to add a few stretches into your routine. Here, Saint-Dic shares four stretches that will instantly perk up your complexion, and may just keep it that way for the long haul.
Stretches that will benefit your skin
1. Neck stretch: Starting in either sitting or standing position, roll your shoulders back slowly and bring your chin toward your chest. Use your hand to lightly apply pressure to the top of your head, and hold for 30 seconds. Then, bring your head back to slowly look up at the ceiling, and hold for 30 seconds. Lightly bring your right ear toward your right shoulder while looking forward, and lightly apply pressure to the top of your head using your right hand. Pull down slowly and hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
2. Shoulder rolls: Standing tall, allow your arms to hang loose by your sides. Draw your shoulders back and down in a circular motion toward the front of your body. Repeat 15 times going forward, then reverse direction and do for another 15 times.
3. Thread the needle: Starting on all fours, place your palms underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Reach your left arm underneath your body toward your right side with your palm facing up, extend to the end of your range of motion, then return to the starting position. Switch sides.
4. Child’s pose: Starting on all fours, touch your big toes together and push your hips back into your heels while stretching your arms out in front of you. Push your knees out to the sides, and try to get your upper body as close to the ground as possible using deep inhales and exhales.
To add even more stretches to your regular routine, follow along with the video below:
For ingredients that’ll give you the same sort of instant glow, try one of these multitasking moisturizers to get the job done. And if you’re feeling stressed out? Here’s how yoga can help.