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This is the twelfth of a series of articles on how to practise yoga, in consultation with  Ayurvedic and Yoga Consultant Dr Pushpika Attanayake. This discussion on utilizing the benefits of yoga to control skin diseases continues from previous week. Beginners should consult a yoga specialist before practising yoga postures.

yoga (3)Kapalbhati
“Kapalbhati flushes out toxins from the respiratory system, which facilitates the control of skin diseases,” says Dr Attanayake.

Steps
1.      Sit on the ground and fold your legs. Make sure that your spine is straight.

2.      Close your eyes.

3.  Keep the right palm on your right knee and your left palm on your left knee, while remaining in the sitting position.

4.      Breathe in normally and breathe out forcefully with all your strength (Exhale with all your force).

5.  While exhaling, concentrate on your breathing taking away all your diseases. In the process of exhaling, the abdominal area should make inward and outward movements. Do not stress on inhaling process. Breathe in normally after each forceful exhale.

6.  Continue this for 15 minutes.

Extended Exhale Breathing
“Extended Exhale Breathing is also beneficial in controlling skin diseases, as it allows the body to work towards an alkaline state as opposed to an acidic state. Alkalinity brings rejuvenation and relief to the body.”

Steps
1.     Mentally count the length of each inhalation and exhalation for several breaths. If the inhalation is longer than the exhalation, you can begin to make them the same length over the next few breaths.

2.     Once your inhalation and exhalation are equal, gradually increase the length of your exhalation by one to two seconds, gently contracting the abdomen. As long as the breath feels smooth and relaxed, continue to gradually increase the exhalation by one to two seconds once every few breaths. Make sure you experience no strain as the exhalation increases. Keep going until your exhalation is up to twice the length of the inhalation, but not beyond. For example, if your inhalation is comfortably four seconds, do not increase the length of your exhalation to more than eight seconds.

yoga (4)Hasta padasana
This pose increases blood circulation to the head, face and neck. Relaxes facial muscles and balances hormones.

Steps
1.     Stand with your feet together. Bend your knees slightly and fold your torso over your legs, moving from the hips, not the lower back.

2.     Place your hands next to your feet or on the ground in front of you.

3.     Inhale and extend your chest to lengthen your spine. Keep your gaze directed forward.

4.     Exhale and gently press both legs straight infront of you. Lift the kneecaps and gently spiral your upper and inner thighs back. Keep your legs straight without stretching unnecessarily.

5.     On exhalation, extend your torso down without rounding your back. Stretch your neck, extending the crown of your head towards the ground. Stretch your shoulders down your back. Remain in position for 15 to 30 seconds.

6.     Repeat 3 more times.

yoga (2)Bhujangasana
This pose helps regulate hormones, reduces stress and helps developing mindfulness. Therefore it is very effective for ameliorating skin diseases.

1.     Lie on the floor, with your face down. Stretch your legs back with tops of the feet on the floor. Keep your hands on the floor alongside your body. Bend the hands from the elbow and keep the palms under the shoulders. Hug the elbows back into your body.

2.     Press the tops of the feet and thighs and the pubis firmly on to the floor.

3.     Inhale and begin to straighten the arms to lift the chest off the floor, reaching only the height at which you can maintain a connection through your pubis to your legs. Press the tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis toward the navel. Narrow the hip points, firm but don’t harden the buttocks.

4.     Firm the shoulder blades against the back, puffing the side ribs forward. Lift through the top of the sternum, but avoid pushing the front ribs forward, which only hardens the lower back. Distribute the backbend evenly throughout the entire spine.

5.     Hold the pose anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds, breathing easily. Release back to the floor with an exhalation.

6.     Repeat 3 more times.