For many, yoga brings to mind stretchy pants worn by stretchy people, but this ancient practice is much more than that. Practitioners of yoga twist, contort and stretch their bodies into poses called asanas while using focused breath patterns to achieve a state of exertion, control, meditation and oneness between mind and body.
Yoga has physical benefits for practitioners beyond increased strength and flexibility, however. Research has shown that yoga is better for treating lower back pain than other forms of exercise. And although most forms of yoga don't put the body into an aerobic state, middle-aged people -- prone to creeping weight gain between the ages of 45 and 55 -- who regularly practice yoga stay fitter and trimmer than those who don't [source: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center].
That's not even counting the psychological benefits. Yoga helps send insomniacs to dream land, gives migraine sufferers relief and boosts the brain's production of the neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of happiness. It also bolsters energy levels and reduces feelings of anxiety [source: Smith]. Clinical studies have demonstrated that practitioners of yoga are less excitable, less aggressive, and more emotionally stable than people who don't practice yoga [source: Schell]. Yoga -- which emphasizes mindfulness through controlled breathing and movement -- also produces a meditative state that boosts the immune system by increasing antibody production [source: WebMD].
What's more, these benefits seem to be achievable whether you're practicing low-impact hatha yoga (an umbrella term for different types of yoga exercises) or intense Bikram yoga, a form practiced in a room preheated to at least 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40 percent humidity.
So this brings us to a new question: Do yoga's bountiful benefits extend to acne? Though many purported (and oft-proven) benefits of yoga have been put to the test by researchers, its effect on acne hasn't received much in the way of scientific scrutiny.
Yoga enthusiasts for the most part don't hesitate to claim it does in fact improve skin appearance and help prevent or diminish acne breakouts. However, others experience even more pronounced problems with acne after trying out yoga for a few weeks.
For more information about acne remedies, read Acne Remedies: Fast Facts.
So what gives? Can yoga clear up acne? Keep reading to find out.