Ever looked in the mirror after a really challenging yoga class? It’s the best glow there is, and no strobing product can replicate it. Even if you’ve never set foot on a yoga mat, there’s no denying the fact that yoga instructors are some of the most radiant individuals in the universe. That’s because in addition to making you breathe easier and chill out, yoga is doing some pretty incredible things for your body, from the inside out. Here we asked two of our favorite (and glowy-skinned!) teachers, Chloe Kernaghan and Krissy Jones of New York City’s Sky Ting Yoga, for five poses that’ll make you feel even more beautiful—whether it’s flushing your system for clearer skin or making you stand up taller. Happy stretching!
1. Supported Fish Pose
This pose works to move blood to your head. In other words, it’ll give you a rosy glow that mimics blush. It’s also ideal for flushing out your thyroid gland, which helps to keep hormones (and thus hormonal acne) in check, Jones says. Use a yoga block just below your shoulder blades to support your back. Don’t worry if you don’t have one on hand. Three to five sturdy books should do the trick.
2. Shoulder Stand to Plow
When it comes to worry lines, #thestruggleisreal. Seriously: Stop making that expression as you read this! A shoulder stand is a moment to totally chill out (and rest the muscles in your face). “It will calm you down, especially if you had a stressful day,” Kernaghan says. It also helps to balance digestion. “Often times digestion is part of the reason we break out,” she says. “When you turn yourself upside down, the blood drains away from your legs, and you get a big flush of blood through all of the soft organs.” Moving from a shoulder stand to a plow pose (where your feet are behind your head), then, gives your lower body a break—ideal if you have a desk job and spend all day sitting. “It takes the pressure off your lower back,” Jones says. “And you get to listen to the sound of your breath, which is super soothing for the body. When your knees are in your ears, you can really hear it.”
Just one thing to note: In shoulder stand, be sure to avoid putting any pressure on your neck. If you’re new to yoga, ask a teacher for assistance or begin with a blanket under your shoulders.
“Back bends open up everything in the front body,” Jones says. “It opens your lungs, stretches out your liver, your heart has to pump. It’s a very energizing pose.” And then there’s this: It’s great for confidence. If you have a big meeting that day, a back bend in the morning will help you feel energized and ready. Think of it as the yoga equivalent as a really good blowout.
4. Donkey Kicks
This move gets your blood pumping. “It wakes you up. It’s good in the morning to invigorate the entire body,” Jones says. “You get the same benefits of going upside down, (think: shoulder stand), and it’s fun!” Try doing it instead of drinking that second cup of (dehydrating) coffee in the morning. In the long run, your skin will thank you!
5. Side-Bending Series
This bend looks like a groovy modern-dance move (remember it for those upcoming summer weddings), and it helps to tone your abs and make you stand up straighter. “You’re pumping and toning your legs and trunk,” Kernaghan says. “It really lengthens out your belly.”