The Best Yoga Poses for Your Health. Radiance of The Face
Rapid and mercurial, air is associated with communication and selfexpression. It is also associated with the mental plane: thoughts give rise to action and are then manifested in the physical realm. The realm of air is ethereal. Intuition and precognition are associated with air. Practicing the yoga poses in this category will help you transform your physical reality quickly and easily. These yoga poses will literally turn you upside down and help you let go of preconceptions and fixed ideas about who you are and how you appear. A well-performed inversion often gives us the sense of being able to transcend physical boundaries. Air is associated with speech and speaking, and corresponds physically to the throat, neck, lips, and cheeks. These yoga poses will help to tone and invigorate these facial regions.
Inversions enhance facial radiance, fill facial hollows, and regulate the thyroid and other glandular functions. The thyroid is an important regulator of hormonal function, and when imbalanced it can negatively affect metabolic function, which can cause swelling and bloating around the face and neck, along with unnecessary weight gain and water retention. The pituitary and hypothalamus are stimulated in head balances such as Headstand, which helps to keep youthful energy flowing and bring radiance to the face.
When the head is lower than the heart in inversion practice, the heart rate slows and the brain and face receive more oxygen, which counters the rapid acceleration associated with aging. For example, a night of insomnia ravages the face. When I suffered from insomnia, I noticed that I had large rings and bags under my eyes. Practicing inversions helped me sleep better and has noticeably rejuvenated my facial appearance.
Inversions are mega-anti-agers. They give the face a rosy glow. Inversions plump the skin and fill in sags and bags. However, avoid these yoga poses if you have high blood pressure or if you are pregnant.
Plow Pose (Halasana)
Yoga pose Halasana for your health and beauty
Your face will get a huge shot of energy and life force when the chin locks to the sternum (in Sanksrit, Jalandhara Bandha, or “capping off,” lock, so called because it reverses the downward flow of energy and sends life force back up to the upper body, neck, and face) here. It brings oxygen and color to the face, and firms the throat, neck, and chin. Plow Yoga Pose is a detoxifier and a wonderful back stretch. It can also be thought of as an upside-down forward bend, and is a great alternative to Seated Forward Bend for those with tight hamstrings, as gravity helps to deepen the forward bend without pulling on the leg muscles.
Lie down on your back, palms facing down alongside your legs, and lift your legs over your head. Walk your arms under your back toward your spine, and interlace your hands. Walk your feet as far away from your head as possible, then roll your shoulders under your back. Enjoy Jalandhara Bandha lock here. You can try pointing your toes and engaging your thigh muscles, or you may flex your feet to feel the stretch more in the hamstrings.
Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)
Handstand and balance
Not everyone can, or wishes, to practice handstands, but if you are willing to try, you may find them extremely rejuvenating. They require strength and coordination as well as bravery. By literally turning yourself upside down, you will receive all the beauty and anti-aging benefits of inversion, plus an extra dollop of grace. As an inversion, a handstand lets the face receive freshly oxygenated blood. Handstand connects us to playfulness and the joyfulness of youth—the inner kid comes out to play. You’ll see your cares leave your face. If you are prone to bags and hollows, this yoga pose is an antidote.
Start from a Downward-Facing Dog position facing a wall with your hands shoulder-width apart. Make sure you have eight to ten inches between the wall and your hands. Lift up one leg very slowly, keeping your hips as square as possible, then lift the other leg up to meet the first. You may need someone to spot you on this yoga pose, or try it in a class with an experienced teacher before doing it at home by yourself. Rest in Child’s Yoga Pose after your handstand for five breaths.
To try a handstand off the wall, follow the steps for practicing at the wall, then lift one leg at a time away from the wall. Flex each foot strongly as it leaves the wall, and when both are in the air, draw the inner thighs in toward one another and drop the head between the upper arms, crown facing down, rather than arching the neck and looking up. Tuck the tailbone under, and draw the pubic bone toward the tail to broaden the lower back and engage the abdominal muscles. Draw the front ribs in toward the spine rather than letting them arch, which will compress the lower back and take you out of alignment. Remember, this is called “upside-down tree” in Sanskrit, so you want to use the same principles of standing upright, only upside down. If you feel unstable, touch your feet back to the wall, then drop one leg at a time back to the floor and rest for five breaths in Child’s Yoga Pose.
Hold this yoga pose for as long as you can. But save some energy to dismount with precision. Five to ten counts is a good place to start.
Yoga Pose Sarvangasana
Called the queen of the poses by the sages, this pose is a true yogic facelift. It reverses sagging skin and brings a luminous quality to the skin and the eyes. It removes eye rings and hollows. As a direct conduit to lunar energy, it removes excess aggression and slows the heart rate, deaccelerating the aging process. The chin tucks into the sternum (Jalandhara Bandha), sealing vital energy (prana) into the upper chamber of the chest. The Jalandhara Bandha lock redirects downward-flowing energy back up to the heart, lungs, brain, and face, which provides a youthful rejuvenation and gives you a brilliant, luminous face.
This yoga pose is said to help regulate the thyroid gland and the rest of the endocrine system. Be mindful of this pose’s power, and avoid practicing it when menstruating or pregnant (you may practice Legs-Up-the-Wall—the following exercise—instead).
Take a blanket and fold it in half, or quarters, making sure it has no ripples or bulges. Place the blanket one third of the way down your mat, the upper portion of the mat above the blanket. Lie down with your head over the edge of the blanket, and roll your shoulders toward each other. Bring your upper arm bones under your back toward the midline as much as you can. Make sure you are not resting weight on the vertebra at the base of your cervical spine, where it attaches the neck to the shoulders (the C7 vertebra). You should feel that vertebra tucking in and up in the direction of the front of the throat. There should be a hollow under your neck at this point, and a bit of a curve. When you have ascertained that these points of alignment are in place, interlace the fingers under your back and draw the palms toward each other to make one fist. Walk the legs over the head, and extend the arms and hands in the opposite direction, away from the tailbone. Then, roll your shoulders under you again, and take the palms to the back, tucking the elbows toward each other in the middle of the mat. Lift up one leg, and then the other. Now, inner rotate the thighbones and press the thighs slightly away from the face. Flex your feet overhead to energize them, then you can arch the feet and flare the toes toward your face like Barbie feet. Press the pelvis slightly toward your face. If possible, walk your palms (fingers pointing toward the tailbone) higher up your back toward the shoulder blades. You should feel light and effortless here, with no pressure on the cervical spine. If you do feel pressure on the cervical spine, back off and practice Vipariti Karani (“Legs-Up-theWall,” the next posture) instead. If it feels good, take your gaze to the breastbone and count twenty slow, deep breaths, then lower the legs over the head, and take the hands in the opposite direction for Plow (Halasana), then press the palms down toward the bottom of the mat and use your hands for brakes as you roll from the top of the spine to the bottom one vertebra at a time, until you reach the floor. Take this “dismount” from the pose very slowly, and use your abdominal muscles to control the descent.
Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Vipariti Karani)
One of the best yoga poses for beginners
Yoga Pose Vipariti Karani is a mild inversion that gives you the same benefits (to a lesser degree) as Shoulderstand without the same physical challenges. I recommend it for beginners and those with physical limitations that preclude practicing Shoulderstand (such as neck injuries or shoulder tightness). It is calming, reverses the downward flow of energy, and brings your prana (life force) back up to the upper chest, neck, throat, and face, endowing you with a rosy glow and slowing the heart rate.
Sit sideways at a wall, with your knees bent and right hip touching the wall. Recline and lift your legs up the wall. Table-top your legs by pressing the feet hip-width apart into the wall and pushing your pelvis toward your face, hands on the floor for support. Slide a rolled-up blanket or a block under your sacrum, drop your lower back on your support, and lift your legs straight up the wall. You may cover your eyes with a scented pillow for enhanced relaxation. As an option, you can spread your legs wider and enjoy the hip opening! Stay here for three to five minutes, minimum. You can go up to ten minutes for super-rejuvenating effects.
To be continued…
Annelise Hagen «The Yoga Face»