May 18, 2016

Yoga & Acne: What Hot Yogis Need to Know about their Skin.

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Like coconut oil and hemp, yoga has many evangelists shouting its benefits from the roof tops.

The claims are often true.

One of them is that yoga is a great natural remedy for acne.  Hot yoga styles, like Bikram, get mixed reviews on this matter.


There are a few reasons why hot yoga and its studio variations keep the skin healthy.

Acne is an infection in pores that have been overstimulated and clogged. Your pores secrete an oil called sebum, which lubricates the skin. Sometimes it carries dead skin cells with it, and together they clog a pore and it gets infected. There are a number of reasons for this.

One cause is cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenals. It’s associated with stress. Excessive cortisol overstimulates some oil glands. This, along with the inflammation cortisol causes, can lead to acne.

Cortisol is also associated with hormonal imbalances. It’s no wonder teenagers experience acne in high numbers. Their hormone glands are going through rapid changes. Yoga reduces cortisol and balances the hormones. So, in general, yoga is good for your skin.


But some specific practices on the mat can also exacerbate acne.

For one, make sure not to wear makeup to your workouts. Makeup can clog the pores and prevent you from releasing sweat, which may lead to breakouts. For further acne prevention, some say to wash your face after every session. However, that may not be necessary as long as you’re not wearing makeup, because sweat itself doesn’t cause acne.

You’ll also want to clean your mat once every couple weeks or so to eliminate acne-causing bacteria.

Finally, tight yoga pants have been known to cause a phenomenon called Acne Butt. You can avoid this by wearing looser fitting, non-irritating clothing.


While many claim that hot yoga is great for acne in the long run, some people beg to differ.

Hot yoga involves having classes in a very hot and humid room. This practice began with Bikram Yoga. Its founder, Bikram Choudhry, believed the perspiration caused by the hot environment increases the purifying effects of yoga.

Some people claim that hot yoga cured their acne, there are others claiming that it caused their acne, and still others claiming that it made their acne worse.

It’s also not uncommon for people to suffer from breakouts when they first start practicing yoga, especially hot yoga. There is known as a detoxification. In this case, the acne should disappear after one to three weeks.

Some people claim that their skin, in the long run, gets a lot healthier than even before they started their practice.

Maybe your skin doesn’t work that way. Some folks complain about long term acne while having a hot yoga practice. One theory by esthetician Joel Gerson is that the hot and humid environment actually prevents the skin from detoxing. This is because your skin swells and follicles become inflamed and clog up.

Of course, this doesn’t explain why some former acne sufferers report being completely acne-free after a few weeks of hot yoga.

Most of the evidence out there is anecdotal, but it’s safe to say that the relationship between hot yoga and acne is complicated. What isn’t certain is how many in each group above wore makeup, washed their faces after class or took other acne prevention measures like cleaning their mats and avoiding stress off the mat.

For now, there’s only one way for you to find out, and that’s to try hot yoga.



Author: Meera Watts

Image: Megan Leetz/Flickr

Editor: Emily Bartran

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