Just when you thought you'd heard it all, enter 'face yoga', the latest anti-ageing bandwagon celebrities are jumping on board with. You may have read about face yoga ‘for a younger face’ on Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop or perhaps it was via an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians when Khloe, Kourtney and Scott called upon the assistance of Koko Hayashi, the founder of Face Yoga, to embark on some unusual sounding, peculiar-looking facial exercises in the name of anti-ageing.
Either way, you’re here because it’s piqued your interest. You’re wondering whether it’s a legit thing and curious to know whether it’s worthy of your time. Spoiler alert: if you’re considering injecting some cash into any kind of face-lifting, muscle-freezing, age-preventative treatment, you may just want to read on to discern whether face yoga is a more befitting place to start...
The practice originates from Japan and is part of the Sukshma Vyayama yoga tradition involving micro-movements designed to alleviate stress, bring heightened awareness and gain greater control over one’s facial muscles. In other words, it’s learning to relax your face, do away with tension and reclaim a toned, younger-looking complexion.
Face yoga draws on a series of movements which target different features in the face. Most of which fall into one of two categories: poses that ‘wake up’ sleeping muscles (lower eyelids and cheeks) and poses that relax overworked muscles (forehead, between the eyebrows, around the mouth).
As we age, our facial muscles beneath our skin decline due to lack of use, dragging our skin down with them. This is when we start to notice pouches under our eyes, sagging eyelids, hollowed cheeks and neck jowls. With regular practice, face yoga essentially lifts all of this back up retaining that smooth, youthful plumpness that softens the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
How do you do face yoga?
Face yoga, like regular yoga, involves creating shapes (with your face), softening and tightening isolated muscles repeatedly.
Many of the poses begin with forming a long “O” with your mouth with your lips folded over your teeth or by smiling and extending your jaw or your neck in varying directions. Some poses require sounds to accompany the movement like “ahh” and “shh”, while others use fingers and palms to place pressure on different points of the face.
Hayashi said that the best practice for face yoga is to do it daily in small, three-minute sessions multiple times throughout the day. However, it really does depend on which program you’re doing; some advise four poses for 10 - 15 minutes a day, others 30 minutes a day.
It can be used preventatively. Like getting botox before your lines have even set in, face yoga can be used as a preventative measure too. You might not get that brag-worthy before and after shot following 2 - 3 months of persistent practice, but you’ll be sitting pretty with supple skin and a youthful flush for decades to come, how about that?
It can boost collagen. The primary function of face yoga is to strengthen the small muscles in the face, however, if at any point the face endures any microtraumas during an exercise, it is possible that a boost of collagen may occur. Next stop, supple skin.
You can undo yourageing patterns. Through regular practice, you discover where you hold tension in your face and learn how to undo these damaging patterns. This can lead to better posture, fewer headaches, and less teeth grinding.
Your skin will improve. Face yoga poses encourage circulation and lymphatic drainage which improve your skin’s quality. Did someone say youthful, glowing skin?
You don’t need a gym membership. Face Yoga is free. With dozens of guides and YouTube videos online, there’s an abundance of poses yours for the, err, posing.
What are the downsides of face yoga?
It’s difficult. Face yoga is really hard work. Prepare to feel exhausted having held a facial pose for a really long time.
You can do it anywhere. There are no excuses not to do it. And, you can look a bit odd during practice. Just sayin’.
Does face yoga really work?
Certified facial-exercise instructor and founder of Happy Face Yoga in Rhode Island Gary Sikorski says his clients have gone from droopy and saggy to lifted and firm in less than two months. “I worked with one woman for six weeks, and her daughter thought she’d gotten a facelift.”
A study by dermatologists at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine found that Sikorski’s face yoga could make people look up to three years younger following consistent practice.
These findings, among others, are based on the results of small groups (less than 30). You could argue that the evidence isn’t yet conclusive on whether you should be making it a part of your daily routine, however, it’s worth having a go at face yoga if you’re looking at spending a small fortune on any anti-ageing products or treatments.
“It takes time to see results; it’s not like Botox,” says Hayashi. “But if you do it on a regular basis, you should be able to see some results in a couple of weeks to months, depending on how often you do it.”
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