Monday, May 9, 2011

Casualty of Yoga

There are casualties of war, and then there are casualties of yoga. Today, I took a hit for yoga.

OK, I'm being a Drama Queen.

It's not really an injury or anything serious per se, but I've noticed an extremely peculiar phenomenon. Basically, when I've had a bit of a break from yoga and then go back to it again, the little blood capillaries in my face burst and I end up with little blood-red... er... blood spots on my face. They're not bumpy, they're just red spots under the surface of the skin. They don't hurt, they're just downright FUGLY. Especially after a couple of days when the fresh blood-red colour becomes... erm... PURPLE. Y'know, like how a bruise would react.

Actually, I thought it was just the yoga practice itself that maybe made me heat up or something, thus causing these red splotches.


It happened to me when I was in Prague too. I didn't have time to do a full-on Ashtanga practice, so would either do some meditation or pranayama, followed by headstands. Ladies and gents, I think Sirsasana is the culprit. Must be all that extra blood rushing to the face or something while I'm upside down!!

Today, I finally made it back to the shala again and just started back with Primary series only (on a separate note, I was surprisingly strong and bendy. Funny how a break from the yoga does this. Also, Hello Summery Weather! Heat really helps to open up everything!!) But I digress.

So after today's practice, I looked in the mirror after my shower and was shocked to see this FUGLINESS on my face.

I'm warning you. It's pretty graphic and not pretty.

You have the chance to stop and look away now.

Are you ready?

I've got an extreme close-up of the burst blood capillaries too.

OK, you've been sufficiently warned.

Here goes...

That's not as bad as the close-up shot you're about to see. In my defense, I can unequivocally tell you that before this morning's practice, my skin was smooth. No zits or anything. All this redness came up after practice!


... ... ...

... ... ...

Let's go!


WTF right?!

I can handle bruises, I've had them everywhere from practising yoga, but er... ON MY FACE?!?!??? I'm a little bit too vain for this.

My teacher M at the shala had spotted my Sirsasana issues. Remember my moment with Sharath? Well, I could hold Sirsasana a wee bit longer in Mysore earlier this year, but still couldn't hold it till the end of Sharath's count. Teacher M in Amsterdam spotted me in it a month ago and basically said "you need to push your hips out a lot more. You're using too much of your arm strength right now and not using the balance in the pose enough. Coz you're not completely vertical."

AHA! No wonder I was getting all tired out in it. So I've been pushing those hips forward and getting over that fear to cross the last bit that would get me completely vertical. Who'd have thunk. I suspect this might be what's getting me red-faced? Maybe?

Eww. Those photos are disgusting. To make up for it, I'm leaving you with something a heckuva lot more beautiful. Variations on Surya Namaskara. I posted it on Facebook a few days ago but it's too gorgeous not to share here. Enjoy!


  1. Goodness! Did you ask the teacher about it?

    Word verification - trobl

  2. Sometimes sweat irritates the skin. Particularly if food intake has been sort of acid producing. I almost sound like I know what I'm talkin' about:-)

    Or a mild allergy?...

  3. Sonya - good point! I was being all masochistic about it, thinking "suck it up and deal with it, this too shall pass". I'll ask her tomorrow! (Guess what? Shala's still closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I've been bugging her about it to the point where she's agreed to open up early tomorrow so I can practice. And she'll practice with me too! No adjustments, but so what? At least I have a space to practice in and a buddy to practice with!) ;)

    SF: At first when it happened a couple weeks ago I thought maybe I was wiping my face too hard with my little hand towel between asanas. But I didn't perspire much today so didn't use the hand towel AT ALL, and that's what got me thinking about it today. Maybe it's the sweat? ...But the last time I got this splotchy was when I was puking my guts up into the toilet (food poisoning!)... All that retching pressure caused a similar reaction. Which is why I'm thinking it must be Sirsasana... I guess maybe my blood capillaries are really that thin?! But why is this only happening now and why hasn't it happened before? Super weird!

  4. You know what? I get those exact spots when I have a bad case of food poisoning, from throwing up a lot. I don't think you do that during your practice...or do you?!?

  5. Ooops as usual, trigger happy here didn't read your comment before commenting. Maybe if your last food poisoning episode is not too far in the past your skin is still a bit sensitive?

  6. OK, glad it's not just me (for the food poisoning skin reaction, that is). But... no, can't remember the last time I threw up! I'm still sticking with my theory of "it's sirsasana". I'm probably just so out of practice my face is like: "what the hell are you doing?!" in inversions. will report back how tomorrow goes. Maybe I'll be a proper tomato-face tomorrow! ;p

  7. How puzzling! Do you notice it immediately after the practice and how long does it last? Do the spots blanch when you press them? Broken capillaries dont tend to blanch. It looks a little like rosacea and blocked/inflammed hair/skin follicles to me, which tend to be brought on by heat/spice, but very unusual in Asian, more common in Anglo/Celts.
    Then again , I could be completely wrong and you have somehow managed to burst heaps of blood vessels

  8. what the??? wow. that is extreme, but I am guessing it is the pressure on your capillaries when inverted. There is a lot of head pressure created in headstand which is why glaucoma patients are banned from the pose... I would definitely ask your teacher to examine you in headstand, you could be putting too much weight on your head or not really breathing deeply and not even know it. love and hugs from an Armchair Yoga Guesser Who Knows Nothing :)

  9. Hey Min, no definitely not rosacea. Like I said, the skin is still smooth, not bumpy. There's nothing clogged there. 2 weeks ago when this first happened, it took a few days. The red became purple, like how a bruise reacts when it heals. That's why I reckon it's burst vessels. When you say blanch do you mean the red momentarily disappears when I press on it? No, that doesn't happen. That red is there to stay till it's gone!

    Loo- you might be right. The other explanation on google could be putting too much pressure on the eyes. (!) come to think of it, I've been experimenting with drishti while in sirsasana - taking it nearer or farther from the mat and seeing how that feels. Erm. Could that be it? It's probably something to do with the way I'm altering myself in the pose now, coz I never had this issue before! Will get teacher in on solving this mystery!

  10. Hey Jaime, really sounds like broken blood capillaries. Yes, you are right, by blanch it means it momentarily disappears when you press on it!

  11. Bendito Nena (Puertorican for sympathy)

  12. I just saw a picture of myself in Urdhva dhanurasana and I had the exact same condition on my face as you (except my red spots were way bigger than yours)!! But it must have been temporary so I never noticed it after class.

  13. Yoga has taught me to be more spiritual, more patient and to have faith in the universe and the flow of life - all very helpful in the up and down life of an actress.
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  14. There are many myths which surround Yoga. Most of them are circulated by people who have never practiced Yoga of any kind. Yet, there are some myths about Yoga, which have been accepted as fact, by Yoga practitioners. It is difficult to shatter an "urban legend, but let's look at one of them.

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  15. It happened to me today in a long sirsasana hold. My bruising is much worse than yours. I invert every day and have been for years. This was just a longer hold.

  16. Not sure if anyone is still reading responses in this topic but I've been doing Hatha yoga since January and in May I have had bouts of broken capillaries on my lower
    legs. My derm told me what it was and she said heat can cause them and also extensive sitting or standing. I do sit a lot at work and it's been quite warm this time of year. I had to skip about 2 weeks of yoga and actually my legs were looking better. Not sure if that was because of the compression socks that my dream recommended or the fact that I didn't go to yoga in a few weeks. But after my class tonight, my legs were a little red again. Hmm...may be the yoga after all

  17. The same thing happened to me today in my first aerial yoga class. I felt a lot of pressure in my head & after class I saw all these busted capillaries under my eyes. I'm on blood thinners so maybe that contributed. Idk but nbd

  18. The same thing happened to me today in my first aerial yoga class. I felt a lot of pressure in my head & after class I saw all these busted capillaries under my eyes. I'm on blood thinners so maybe that contributed. Idk but nbd

    1. Jessica, i was googling the same thing u described in ur comment. I just had my first aerial today and came up with these small red spots on my face right after it. How long did it take to disappear? Any special treatment needed? I am terrified...


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