Yoga Asanas & their Sanskrit Names

Yoga asanas with their English and Sanskrit names ordered by when they would generally appear in a yoga class.

Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana - Forearm Wheel
Dwi Pada Viparita DandasanaForearm Wheel
  • Mountain PoseTadasana (tada = mountain)
  • Prayer Pose – Samasthiti (sama = same, equal; sthiti = to establish, to stand)
  • Hero’s PostureVirasana (vir = man, hero, chief)
  • Breath of Fire – Kapalabhati (kapal = skull; bhati = shining)
  • Four-Limbed Stick Pose – Chaturanga Dandasana (chatur = four; anga = limb; danda = staff, stick)
  • Downward-facing Dog Pose – Adho Mukha Svanasana (adho = downward; mukha = face; shvana = dog)
  • Upward-facing Dog Pose – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (urdhva = rising or tending upward)
  • Cobra Pose – Bhujangasana (bhujanga = serpent)
  • Warrior I/II/IIIVirabhadrasana I/II/III (virabhadra = the name of a fierce mythical warrior)
  • Chair PoseUtkatasana (utkata = awkward)
  • Extended Side Angle Pose – Utthita Parsvakonasana (utthita = extended; parsva = side; kona = angle)
  • Child’s Pose – Balasana (bala = young, childish)
  • Revolved Side Angle Pose – Parivrtta Baddha Parsvakonasana (parivrtta = twist, revolve; baddha = bound; parsva = side; kona = angle)
  • Extended Triangle Pose Utthita Trikonasana (utthita = extended; tri = three; kona = angle)
  • Revolved Triangle Pose – Parivrtta Trikonasana (parivrtta = to turn around; tri = three; kona = angle)
  • Intense Side Stretch – Parsvottanasana (parsva = side; ut = intense; tan = stretch)
  • Standing Forward BendUttanasana (ut = intense; tan = stretch)
  • Extended Hand-toe PoseUtthita Hasta Padangusthasana (utthita = extended; hasta = hand; pada = foot; angusta  = big toe)
  • Eagle PoseGarudasana (garuda = a fierce bird of prey)
  • King of the Dancers Pose – Natarajasana (nata = dancer; raja = king)
  • Tree Pose – Vrksasana (vrksa = tree)
  • Downward-facing Tree Pose (a.k.a. hand stand) – Adho Mukha Vrksasana (adho = downward; mukha = face)
  • Wide-Stance Forward Bend – Prasarita Padottanasana (prasarita = spread; pada = foot; ut = intense; tan = to stretch out)
  • Camel Pose – Ustrasana (ustra = camel)
  • Squat – Upavesasana (upavesa = sitting down, seat)
  • Crow Pose – Bakasana (baka = crow, crane)
  • Side Crow Pose – Parsva Bakasana (parsva = side)
  • Eight-angel Pose – Astavakrasana (ashta = eight; vakra = crooked)
  • Peacock Pose – Mayurasana (mayura = peacock)
  • Feathered Peacock Pose (a.k.a. forearm balance) – Pincha Mayurasana (pincha = a feather of a tail; mayura = peacock)
  • Scorpion Pose – Vrschikasana (vrschana = scorpion)
  • Supported Headstand – Salamba Sirsasana (sa = with; alamba = the on which one rests or leans; sirsa = head)
  • Posture of the Root Lock – Mulabandhasana (mula = root, foot; bandha = binding)
  • Staff Pose – Dandasana (danda = stick, staff)
  • West Back Stretching – Paschimottanasana (pascha = behind, after, westward; uttana = intense stretch)
  • The Great Seal – Mahamudra (maha = great, mighty, strong; mudra = sealing, shutting, closing)
  • Head-to-Knee Pose – Janu Sirsasana (janu = knee; shiras = to touch with the head)
  • Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose – Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (parivrtta = turning, rolling; janu = knee; shiras = to touch with the head)
  • Half Lord of the Fishes Pose – Ardha Matsyendrasana (ardha = half; matsya = fish; indra = ruler, lord)
  • One-Legged Royal Pigeon Pose – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (eka = one; pada  = foot; raja = king, royal; kapota = dove, pigeon)
  • Bow Pose – Dhanurasana (dhanu = bow)
  • Upward Bow Pose (a.k.a. wheel) – Urdhva Dhanurasana (urdhva = upward; dhanu = bow)
  • Sage Vasistha’s Pose (a.k.a side plank pose) – Vasisthasana (vasistha = a sage)
  • Locust Pose – Salabhasana (salabha = grasshopper, locust)
  • Boat Pose – Navasana (nava = boat)
  • Four-footed Tabletop Pose – Chatus Pada Pitham (chatur = four; pada = foot; pitham = stool, seat)
  • Upward Plank Pose – Purvottanasana (purva = front; ut = intense; tan = extend, stretch)
  • Seated Wide-Angle Pose – Upavistha Konasana (upavistha = seated; kona = angle)
  • Turtle Pose – Kurmasana (kurma = turtle)
  • Reclining Turtle Pose – Supta Kurmasana  (supta  = reclining)
  • Cow-Faced Pose – Gomukhasana (go = cow; mukha = face)
  • Monkey Pose (a.k.a. splits) – Hanumanasana (Hanuman was the semidivine chief of an army of monkeys who served the god Rama. Hanuman once jumped in a single stride the distance between Southern India and Sri Lanka and this split-leg pose mimics that famous leap)
  • Bridge Pose – Setu Bandhasana (setu = dam, dike, bridge; bandha = lock; setubandha = the forming of a bridge, dam)
  • Belly Twist – Jathara Parivrtti (jathara = stomach, bellow; parivrtti = turning, rolling)
  • Fish Pose – Matsyasana (matsya = fish)
  • Supported Shoulder Stand – Salamba Sarvangasana (salamba = with support; sarva = all; anga = limb)
  • Plow Pose – Halasana (hala = plow)
  • Ear-to-Knee Pose – Karnapidasana (karna = ear; pidana = squeeze, pressure)
  • Bound Angle Pose – Baddha Konasana (baddha = bound; kona = angle)
  • Reclining Bound Angle Pose – Supta Baddha Konasana (supta = resting)
  • Lotus Posture – Padmasana (padma = lotus)
  • Easy Posture Sukhasana (sukha = comfortable, gentle)
  • Adept’s Posture – Siddhasana (siddha = accomplished, fulfilled, a sage)
  • Auspicious Posture – Svastikasana (svastik = lucky, auspicious)
  • Corpse Pose – Savasana (sava = corpse)

Have fun at your next yoga class!

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One Legged Wheel – Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana

Tokyo Yoga Studios

Working out in Japanese is a curious activity: If you are from a major city in the United States, you are used to people jogging on the sidewalks and seeing workout studios and gyms everywhere. With the exception of the path around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, you won’t find people exercising and working out. People generally get their exercise by walking to the subway or to their destinations so it was challenging for me to find yoga or exercise studios.

2nd Floor, 1-25-11 Ebisu Nishi, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo, Japan, 105-0021

I didn’t actually get to take a class here but this was my first choice yoga class in the Ebisu neighborhood, mostly because of their English language website, large number of classes each day, and their easy to read Mind Body Online schedule. Having practiced yoga for almost a decade, I wanted to go to an “Experienced” level class because most beginner classes aren’t as interesting. I saw that on their website, they said you could not progress to higher levels without starting at level 1 as a part of their “BASEWORKS” leveling system. However, I dismissed that consideration, thinking that it would be fine and maybe “BASEWORKS” was another optional program that people signed up for. I was wrong; if you are new to this studio, they will not let you take anything but a level 1 class. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are or if you are a yoga teacher–the Japanese are generally very rule abiding and don’t make exceptions so I was not able to get into this class. Because I got rejected from this class, I went on a quest to find other yoga studios in the Ebisu neighborhood.

Yoga Lava
〒150-0013 Tokyo, Shibuya, Ebisu 壱 番館 2F, Tokyo, Japan

I think this studio is a chain since I have seen Yoga Lava studios in Singapore and several Yoga Lava studios in Japan during my Tokyo yoga Internet research. They offer exercise classes (which I am interpreting as Pilates,) and heated yoga classes. One thing I noticed is that people in Tokyo like their yoga classes hot. Yoga Lava is likely a female-only studio. Compared to the United States, Japan has very distinct gender roles and yoga is strictly a woman’s exercise; for example at the Sheraton Miyako, the yoga studio is inside the women’s locker room (so no men allowed) and the weight room is inside the men’s locker room (so no women allowed.) I didn’t practice at this studio since the next available class that day wasn’t a yoga class but it seemed like a nice studio and the ladies were very helpful and directed me to the next yoga studio.

Bali Hot Stone Yoga – Allure
〒150-0022, 1 Chome-2-11 Ebisuminami, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0022

Bali Hot Stone Yoga is the Equinox of hot yoga in Tokyo. The address listed above is one of their 3 yoga studio locations. I stopped by this one but their next class wasn’t a yoga class so I went to the Jinja location across the street near the Ebisu Shrine (this Allure location is on the 4th floor of a multi-purpose complex with restaurants at the bottom.) The studio has plenty of amenities including lockers, showers, towels, and you don’t need to bring your own yoga mat–the studio provides them although they are of cheap quality and slip on the floor (high quality yoga hasn’t really made it big in Tokyo yet, although there is a Lululemon in Shibuya and Manduka has a Japan website) but very few people actually wear brand name America yoga wear here. The coolest thing about this yoga studio is their hot stone floor; if you are into hot yoga, this is the studio for you, although you have to really like hot yoga because they heat the studio to 39 degrees C / 102.2 degrees F, 49% humidity. The studio was beautiful and the staff was wonderful, the issue I had with this studio was that while I went to an Intermediate Level class, the yoga was so basic that I didn’t feel like I got a workout at all, despite sweating profusely. The most advanced pose in this Intermediate class was Warrior II–there were no standing twists and instead, a lot of basic stretching. It was more like a spa experience than it was a workout experience. It’s important to note that there is a large women’s locker room but there isn’t a men’s locker room and there wasn’t a single man in the class (all the staff is female) so I don’t think men are allowed at this yoga establishment. All in, I recommend checking out this yoga studio if you are curious as to what yoga in Japan is like because it was taught 100% in Japanese and it has an amazing first-time drop-in rate of 1,000 JPY (equivalent to about $10 USD,) which includes a bottle of water; after that, it is 3,000 JPY / class.

Allure at Jinja (4th Floor)


Lloyd, the Google Bus Driver

Lloyd, the 8:35pm Google bus driver was one of the first bus drivers to shuttle me home from Mountain View. He greets every single passenger with a “Hello my man!” or “How’s it going?!” and answers with “Welcome aboard!” or “Alright, alright!” He fist bumps every passenger with a big toothy smile on his face and exudes the most authentic happiness I have ever seen from any human, let alone any bus driver. He is a legend amongst Googlers and we all look forward to taking his bus.

I left on a 5:34pm shuttle last Friday. I had not taken this shuttle before yet. To my wonderful surprise, Lloyd was my bus driver. He had driven me home the night before as well. As we pulled away from the curb, Lloyd waves to the bus station attendee: “See you in a few hours!” I suddenly realized that Lloyd sits through 5+ hours of traffic every single evening, and possibly additional hours in the morning if he also has a morning route. As soon as he drops the 5:40pm group off in San Francisco, he turns right back around and battles the bottleneck traffic that clogs up the Bayshore Freeway 18 hours a day.

“According to my Google Maps, it’s going to be 39 minutes until we touch down at our first stop. So in the meantime and in between time, kick back, relax, it’s going to be a nice time. I’ll talk to you folks in a minute. Peace out,” Lloyd cheerfully announces over the bus’s PA system.

Lloyd’s smiling face, delightful bus announcements, and fist bumps put a spring in my steps. This extra spritz of friendliness inspires me to be a kinder person. When he drops us off, he announces over the intercom, “We are now approaching our first stop at Market Street. If you are getting off, don’t forget to gather your belongings. And remember, this bus ride was brought to you by the wonderful people at Google, saving the world one bus ride at a time. Stay cool, like the other side of the pillow, and see you next time.” And with another fist bump, I depart into the night, glad that there are still humble and good people in this world.

Puerto Vallarta Yoga Review

The Yogi Bar
Paseo de la Marina 3 | Local 7, Puerto Vallarta 48335

The Yogi Bar in Puerto Vallarta
The Yogi Bar in Puerto Vallarta

I was recently in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and decided to go to a local yoga studio to experience yoga in a different way. Major caveat: Everything in Puerto Vallarta is geared towards tourists–there are Americans everywhere and almost everyone speaks English. However, at the Yogi Bar, I was able to take a yoga class from Miguel who spoke half Spanish and half English throughout the class (plus the Sanskrit yoga poses.) This was the “international yoga” experience I wanted (I didn’t want to be led by a teacher who emigrated from the US.)

1.) Good teacher with extensive yoga experience (teacher was very flexible and emphasized flexibility as a part of the practice.)
2.) Conveniently located spot if you are staying in any of the hotels nearby; close to other restaurants/spas.
3.) Amazing prices ($5 US dollar/class is amazing); fresh juices and smoothies are both enormous and very reasonably priced at $3 US dollar/drink (about 70% cheaper than anything you will find in San Francisco.)

1.) There is a wide variety of experience levels in the class so it’s not as strong of a Vinyasa Flow as I would normally like.
2.) If you aren’t somewhat familiar with the basic Ashtanga yoga poses, then you might feel lost since the class is taught in English and Spanish. I personally really enjoyed this part of the practice but some novices may not.

Now if you can get on the water in Puerto Vallarta, the water is quite warm (by North American standards–I would guess 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit,) grab a standup paddle-board and try some yoga moves on it (it’s really hard to balance on the open ocean!)

Paddle-board splits
Paddle-board splits
Downward-facing dog
Downward dog is hard on the water


Washing Your Face with Raw Honey

If you have sensitive skin like me, you may have disliked every face wash you have ever tried. They are either too drying and leave the skin on your face feeling stretched taut; or they are too harsh and leave your skin red and irritated; or they leave residue that you can’t seem to get off unless you use yet another facial cleanser. Or, you may be concerned about the chemicals and want to reduce your exposure to possible toxins that can cause long-term damage to your body.

I wasn’t using anything but water to wash my face because I was afraid of causing an allergic reaction (see my “Naked” Face post,)  but I started washing my face with raw organic honey a few weeks ago when my skin was feeling “icky.” I first got the idea to do so when I saw other facial cleansers advertising honey as the magical ingredient in the product that “pulls dirt out of your pores.” Instead of purchasing an expensive facial cleanser that only contained a small percentage of honey, I thought I would do some research to see if others had success using just pure honey as a face wash. It seems that a few other bloggers had tried honey face washes with success so I gave it a go.

I was pleasantly surprised with how perfect honey acts as a face wash. It’s gentle and creamy but it also “tugs” and gently exfoliates. Then, it washes off extremely easily with water (since it dissolves quickly in water,) and leaves your face feeling clean, supple, and almost moisturized–never dry (I say almost moisturized because you still have to use a moisturizer–I use 100% organic Argan Oil.) Before trying honey as a face wash, I was afraid that the honey would get “stuck” on your face and it would impossible to rinse it off. I found the opposite to be true–honey washes off very easily, except if you accidentally got it into your hairline; then you should just shampoo your entire head to remove it.

If you want to give this honey wash a try, read on for tips on which kinds of honey and do-it-yourself tricks.

  1. Use raw, organic honey. This ensures you are getting the purest form and that all the living enzymes are preserved. When compared to most facial cleansers, raw honey is no more expensive than buying a comparably sized tube of face wash and it lasts for the same amount of time because you are using roughly the same amount with each wash. 100% raw, organic Mexican honey is $5.99 for a 16-ounce jar at Trader Joe’s. Scoop out 1 teaspoon of it and rub it in circular motions all over your face (do not wet your face first.) The honey’s natural stickiness exfoliates your skin. This won’t remove makeup but it will remove oil.
  2. Use raw organic Manuka honey if you have the budget for it. Manuka honey is produced by bees in New Zealand that pollinate the manuka bush (more commonly known to us as tea tree.) Similarly to tea tree oil, Manuka honey has antimicrobial properties and a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) of 10+ is considered potent enough for medicinal uses. Healthcare professionals may recommend medical-grade Manuka honey to treat wounds. For use as a face wash, I have found that regular 10+ Manuka honey works great. Manuka honey smells less sweet and has an earthy tea tree oil smell. It doesn’t taste as good as regular honey so I recommend that you use Manuka honey exclusively for washing your face. The best price I have found for Manuka honey is also at Trader Joe’s: $10.99 for an 8.8-ounce jar of 10+ UMF ($1.25/oz.) However, I learned today that this product is seasonal and as of early March, it is out of stock until the next North American winter (New Zealand’s summer.) carries 100% Organic Manuka Honey Active 16+ by Wedderspoon year-round. This is the same brand that Whole Foods carries so you can do a quick price comparison between your local Whole Foods Market and to find the best price. I have found the price differential between Wedderspoon’s 16+ and 12+ to be negligible so I prefer the 16+ due its higher concentration of methylglyoxal, the antimicrobial compound specific to Manuka Honey.
    For reference, a Wedderspoon Raw Manuka Honey Active 12+, 8.8-ounce Jar costs $23.99, (which breaks down to $2.73/ounce,) compared to $24.99 for Wedderspoon Organic – 100% Raw Manuka Honey, active 16+, 8.8 oz honey ($2.84/ounce.) I still go for the much cheaper Trader Joe’s Manuka honey when it is in stock.
  3. Mix in baking soda for extra exfoliation. If you like the feeling of an apricot or bead scrub on your face, you should add baking soda to your honey to help remove blackheads and whiteheads. I like the scrub to feel “extra grainy” so I mix 1 part baking soda and 1 part honey, which leaves my face feeling more polished than if I used honey only alone. Do not mix a big batch at of baking soda and honey. I did that and the baking soda reacts with honey, turning the mixture into odd-smelling foamy gunk that probably is not harmful to put on your face, but also isn’t as pleasant as smooth and creamy honey. Mix 1 teaspoon of each together right before you are going to put it on your face for the best results. I find that the baking soda honey scrub does an excellent job of cleaning and removes more oil than honey alone. However, I usually follow up with a Manuka honey mask after the scrub to bring a little bit of moisture back to my skin since honey is a humectant.

Check out this Women’s Health article to see their recommendations for using honey as a facial cleanser too and let me know what you think if you try it yourself!

Seattle Yoga Studios Reviews

For readers in Seattle, I have visited several yoga studios during my 3 years of living there. I have reviewed some of my favorite studios below.

  • Be Luminous Yoga – This studio benefits those who have practiced at least 10 times before the most. It is very popular and conveniently located on the plaza above Whole Foods in South Lake Union so it is the one of the more crowded of all the yoga studios listed here. However, it has the best community and my favorite teachers; it does have an intro to yoga series that beginners should take instead of the other classes. The studio is owned by small business owners and the 900 Lenora Street location is the only studio. This studio is heated to 90 degrees F for each class (except for the beginner’s and slow flow classes.)
  • CorePower Yoga – This studio is the best for beginners since they offer a 7-day free unlimited pass for new members. It is also super clean, has the nicest facilities of any yoga studio I have been to in Seattle, and has sticky floors, making your mat less likely to slip. The Queen Anne studio doesn’t get too packed and there are mirrors in the studio to help you figure out your alignment during the earlier stages of your practice. It’s also a chain so class packages and passes you purchase work in all 3 locations around Seattle and nation-wide in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, and Santa Barbara. These studios are heated except for the 1C classes which are good beginner classes. The one downside is that the CorePower instructors are newer to teaching than those at other studios so I don’t grow as much physically or spiritually when I go to their classes.
  • 8 Limbs Yoga (Capitol Hill) – This studio benefits those who have practiced yoga for at least 3 months the most. It has some of the more advanced yoga classes (although its level 1 and 2 classes are pretty accessible to most.) Their level 3 classes are quite challenging and involve fun inversions. I practiced at this studio during the 3 months I wasn’t able to do hot yoga (see my “Naked” Face post.) The studio doesn’t have the newest facilities but their live music classes and brick walls have personality and charm. This was also one of the few studios I have ever practiced at where there were more men than women (split was about 60% male, 40% female.)
  • 8 Limbs Yoga (Wedgwood) – I went to Maritza Vargas Reyes’s flow/vinyasa class in 2018, at least 3 years after I visited the Capitol Hill location. This location caters to an older audience (they have a yoga for 50+ class) and the flow was a lot more basic and easy. I barely broke a sweat but the stretch and sequence was good. Maritza demonstrated several poses and it was clear she is an advanced teacher but the class was taught at a basic level. Similar to the Capitol Hill location, the studio space was cute and because of the few students in this class, we practiced with our mats in a circle, which had a nice community feeling. One of my favorite parts about this location is that their rental mats are Manduka PROlite mats. Their first class + mat rental is only $10.
  • Troy Lucero’s yoga class – Troy’s class benefits those who have practiced yoga consistently for at least 1 year. My friends and I who frequent Be Luminous are rarely ever sore after yoga practice or any form of exercise, but we were all surprised at the new muscles Troy’s class had woken up for us. One of my teachers, Vanessa, introduced me to Troy’s class. His classes are the most bare bones in terms of facilities (it is the speakeasy of yoga,) but they are the most mentally and technically challenging classes I have ever taken.
  • Urban Yoga Spa – This is one of the most conveniently located yoga studios (centrally located right in Downtown Seattle on 4th Avenue.) It isn’t as great of a beginner studio as CorePower Yoga is but it offers basic classes with mirrors and modest facilities. The teachers don’t teach at as advanced a level as they do at 8 Limbs, so this studio is recommended for beginners too. They often do community classes which you can drop in on for free.
  • Olympic Sculpture Park outdoor yoga – On sunny July and August Saturday mornings in Seattle, practicing yoga at the Olympic Sculpture Park is the best yoga period. Nothing beats outdoors yoga when the temperature is moderate and the sun is shining, in my opinion (especially free outdoor yoga on the lush grass of the Sculpture Park’s steps.) 8 Limbs Yoga has partnered with the Seattle Art Museum in the “Summer at SAM” public events. These yoga classes are free and run for about 10 weeks during the summer and they are back in 2015. Check out their Facebook event.
  • hauteyoga Queen Anne – The instructors at this studio are experienced (the same people who enjoy practicing at Be Luminous Yoga would also enjoy flowing with the teachers at hauteyoga in Queen Anne.) The one major drawback of this studio is the lack of amenities. There is no changing stalls and no water fountain. There is a water bubbler but costs $1/refill. Granted, the Safeway is right across the street but it seems odd to me that there isn’t even a non-filtered water fountain. Additionally, there is only one bathroom. The lack of changing stations would be okay if the studio wasn’t heated to 95 degrees. I find that I always have to change after because my clothes are soaked with sweat. In my opinion, the studio is too hot for power flow and I always have to be right next to the door in the front of the classroom to catch the breeze when the teacher opens it to let in air. However, the studio does have a wonderful view of their garden and I like their floors the most. Their floors are ever so slightly “squishy” making practicing yoga more comfortable.

“Naked” face

I used to wear makeup every day–eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, primer, concealer. Before I went to work out or to sweaty hot yoga class, I would remove my makeup, using both ends on 3 Q-tips that would each become blackened.

During one particularly hot day in the third week of August 2014, I walked out of hot yoga class with slightly red eyelids. I thought it was a minor irritation and that it would go away in due time. It wasn’t particularly painful; just a little bit red and could easily be covered up using eye shadow. I continued to wear makeup and returned to hot yoga a few days later. This time, when I left, not only were my eyelids pink and puffy, but also the skin under my eyes and the eyebrow area. This time, it stung and burned.

Over the course of 2.5 months, each week, I would have a “flare-up.” The first month and a half was the worse. The skin around my eyes would become inflamed. It stretched tightly and burned. I couldn’t put in contact lenses because my eyes had swollen shut. I looked like a panda except instead of cute black rings around my eyes, I had painful swelling skin that would peel off after 4 days when the swelling started to subside, only to flare-up again the next week, in a tormenting and cynical cycle.

I had stopped going to hot yoga after the second intense “flare-up” and went to 2 different doctors and 1 dermatologist. Nobody could definitively diagnose me and each medical professional plus my parents and friends recommended a different remedy. I was toting around every kind of oral allergy pill and 4 kinds of different anti-inflammatory topical creams by the end of September.

Never did I want to simply be healthy again. Nothing else was important at all. I had completely let go of wearing any makeup and I didn’t care what my clothes looked like. I hid in frumpy sweats and fleeces. I didn’t want to hang out with my friends because I was embarrassed by my red puffy face. On really bad days, I couldn’t go outside because it was so painful. I missed 2 days of work as I stayed at home to ice my face.

Negative thoughts ran through my mind. Would this be my life? Would I be ugly forever? Would my skin peel off so many times that it would permanently scar my face? Will I ever step foot in a heated yoga room ever again?

It is unclear whether the drugs that I was prescribed helped. In October, the “flare-ups” started to become more mild–just little patches instead of a whole panda face transformation. However, I kept taking Claritin and Allegra, one in the morning, and one in the evening, just in case. I threw away all my makeup and opened an eBay account to find second homes for my expensive Sigma and Chanel brushes.

After 3 weeks of being “flare-up” free, I decided the first thing I had to do was return to Be Luminous Yoga studio. I never stopped practicing yoga (it’s the one thing that is guaranteed to make you feel better, regardless of how terrible your day is.) Instead, I was visiting studios across the city and found a couple non-heated studios in Capitol Hill with instructors that I liked. So it wasn’t the yoga I missed. It was the network of girls that I had befriended at Be Luminous that I missed the most.

My first foray back into hot yoga after a 3 month hiatus in November was successful. I knew whatever my body had been reacting to had disappeared and I was “cured.” But not only was I cured from this unknown, awful auto-immune disease, I was cured from my insecurity of what my naked face looks like. I was so happy that my face didn’t look diseased that I loved what my makeup-less, naked face looked like.

Most women never leave the house without a coat of mascara, eyeliner, and concealer. Makeup gives the illusion of wider, more alert eyes, and a fresher, younger face. I always thought the prettiest girls were the ones that didn’t wear makeup, but I couldn’t be one of those girls because my natural lashes are too short and sparse, and my skin, too blemished.

Makeup has always been an illusion for yourself. When Adriana Lima looks at you from the television screen with her enchanting and seductive eyes surrounded by a forest of thick Maybelline lashes, you feel that you can be as beautiful as Adriana if only you also use the same catwalk mascara. When you actually look at women wearing lots of makeup close up (such as at Disney princesses on our most recent trip to Walt Disney World this Christmas,) they hardly look beautiful. The lashes are often stuck together and the foundation is thick, cakey, uneven or rubbing off somewhere. The beautiful people that men and women notice in real life are the ones who have beaming smiles, take care of their bodies, and wear no makeup to hide their face.

I wish I could have loved my naked face years ago, starting from when I was a teenager, first playing with lip gloss. It would have saved me a lot of time and money and preserved my skin from unnecessary chemicals, tugging, and abrasion, that surely aged it faster. If you are a woman reading this, try going to the supermarket without any makeup on and smile at strangers. I guarantee you will feel free and happy.