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Yoga and Psoriasis: Bend and Breathe Your Way to Better Skin

So what do you know about yoga? For me, yoga evokes an image of rows of people wearing loose-fitting clothes and attempting to balance whilst their bodies are twisted into Tetris shapes. As you can tell, I don’t know much about it, which made me even more skeptical when I heard that yoga could improve psoriasis. I didn’t have a mat, and I certainly didn’t have the right flexibility to swing my foot around my neck and balance on my toe. But, I did have one thing – psoriasis – and a willingness to try anything. Here is what I found out about yoga and psoriasis.

Yoga is a practice that originated in ancient India, in a field that is now called Ayurvedic medicine. Over the thousands of years that people have been twisting and turning under its name, its core principle has remained the same – to heal, integrate and balance the mind, body and spirit.

To achieve this goal, yoga combines breathing exercises, meditation and physical postures. It is a holistic approach to health and wellbeing that calms the nervous system and balances the energy systems of the body. This relates well to psoriasis because it is a condition that is more than skin deep, and thus treating it successfully means that you need to reach further than your tube of steroid cream.

How Does Yoga Help Psoriasis?

YOGA KILLS STRESS!

The first way that yoga helps psoriasis is through stress reduction and relaxation. As you slowly sink from one posture to another, all the while concentrating on slow, controlled breathing, there is no time to think and worry or you’ll end up eating your yoga mat. Yoga helps to draw you away from your chaotic, busy day, and puts you into a calm, restful but energizing state. In fact, it is so calming that researchers have actually found that it “switches off” the stress genes. Studies on war veterans with PTSD, emotionally distressed adults and adults suffering from anxiety and panic attacks all confirm that yoga can improve mental health and wellbeing.

This is great news for psoriasis. As many of you will know, stress is a major trigger for the majority of psoriatics. Worrying about all the day-to-day headaches such as hitting that 100-page report deadline at work, preparing a nice dinner, getting through the traffic jam for 9AM… can leave you with a major psoriasis flare-up! Not only does stress exacerbate skin problems, but it means treatments take longer to work. By unrolling the yoga mat for 30 minutes a day and putting your body through a range of poses where you are completely and utterly focused on balancing and breathing, you can really quieten your mind in a beneficial way. I still can’t touch my toes, but I have found that after a yoga session I have more peace-of-mind and a better attitude towards psoriasis.

YOGA WORKS YOUR LIMBS!

The second way in which yoga helps psoriasis is through the physical exercise side of it. The most recognizable part of yoga is the asanas, or postures, and they come in a range of colorful names and shapes. From downward-facing dog, to cow face, cockerel and scorpion, there are many postures to bend your body into, and enough of them to cater to every level, from the most wooden of beginners to the ones made from rubber. Practicing these poses is great for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis in particular, because the exercises are low-impact, they make you stronger and improve your range-of-motion. Apart from that, doing the poses stimulates the circulatory and excretory systems, helping you to expel toxins in the body, which is of great benefit to psoriasis.

Yoga and psoriasis is often an underexplored treatment that can act as a good complement to the normal array of options that are thrown at psoriasis. With something as simple as yoga, where you only need time and maybe a comfortable yoga mat to start right away, it makes sense to give it a go. Look out for our future article on the top 5 yoga poses for psoriasis – because certain poses can alleviate skin disorders better than other ones!

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