Stress: It's the ultimate beauty bandit. When you feel tense, breathing gets quick and shallow -- and that, in turn, invites toxins (which you would otherwise have exhaled) to wreak havoc on the skin. To make matters worse, the fight-or-flight mode raises levels of testosterone, which can lead to breakouts.
"Anxiety also increases the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body, potentially damaging blood vessels," notes New York-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D. And any strain on circulation can cut delivery of vital nutrients to the skin, leaving it dull and papery.
You can prevent this cascading effect, however, with certain breathing exercises. "The slower and deeper you breathe, the more peaceful you feel," says Pratima Raichur, N.D., author of "Absolute Beauty." In particular, Raichur recommends ujjayi pranayama, or the "victorious breath," which activates the fourth and fifth chakras (energy centers), helps flood the body with oxygen, and detoxifies internal organs. Follow these steps to de-stress -- and beautify the skin from the inside out.
How To Do It
1. Sit or stand comfortably with a tall spine and shoulders relaxed.
2. Place one hand on your abdomen and one hand on your heart.
3. Inhale a slow, steady breath through the nostrils. Direct the breath toward the back of your throat slightly so that the breath becomes audible, like ocean waves crashing on the shore. Feel the expansion of the abdomen, rib cage, and chest.
4. Exhale completely through the nostrils, pushing all the air out while pulling the navel to the spine. Again, your breath should be audible (as if you were saying "haaaaa" with your mouth closed).
5. Work toward a smooth, even inhalation and exhalation through the nostrils. Repeat seven to 11 times.