There are 57 muscles in the face, but we rarely give them much thought. Our obliques, calves, biceps, and quads, however? Most of us are eager to give those plenty of attention during our workouts. If our arms benefit from several rounds of sun salutations, wouldn’t it make sense to treat our facial muscles to an equivalent workout? Proponents of face yoga say, yes!
According to face yoga enthusiasts, more than any cream or serum, face yoga, a series of facial expressions and massage techniques, can change the appearance of our faces. In fact, proponents claim, face yoga can even help our skin absorb skincare products more efficiently. Depending on the regimen, face yoga exercises may include practicing various massage strokes, gently pinching skin, or making “yoga expressions” like Lion.
But wait—isn’t working and twerking your face around counterintuitive? Don’t extreme facial expressions worsen wrinkles?
A fellow friend-in-beauty raised this question. It does seem that scrunching up your face would create or exacerbate lines. After all, we’re constantly warned to avoid regularly sipping from straws since puckering lips creates lines around the upper lip.
If you’ve had this concern about face yoga, too, your intuition hasn’t lead you astray. Dr. Apratim Goel explains that one risk of practicing face yoga—or any variety of facial exercise—is overdoing vigorous facial movements that can “increase wear and tear of the collagen fibers and aggravate wrinkles.” This raises the question: is it safe to practice face yoga at all?
It really depends on your style of face yoga and what precautions your take to avoid damaging your skin. In addition to easing up on extreme facial expressions, it’s important to avoid stretching skin during the exercises Dr. Goel explains; moisturizing before the session will help with this. Finally, gentle massage along the neck and face will help ease any muscle tension associated with the exercises.
With that in mind, it’s wise to practice face yoga with an instructor or a video with clear instructions. I personally feel more comfortable sticking to the massage components of face yoga and skipping the intense expressions altogether.
With that PSA out of the way, here are some of the benefits you can expect from a mindful face yoga practice.
Muscle strengthening and relaxation.
Like yoga for the body, when done correctly, face yoga relaxes the muscles in the face, which helps to soften any wrinkles or deep lines caused by continually tensed facial muscles. (Does anyone else get “11” between her brows when she’s stressed?)
Face yoga experts posit that strengthening the muscles can help combat the work of gravity while tightening the skin around “problem areas” like crows feet and laugh lines.
In addition to relaxing your muscles, face yoga may relax your mind—and we all know that stress relief is critical for maintaining a youthful appearance.
Increased circulation and detoxification.
Like all forms of massage, face yoga increases circulation and lymphatic drainage. When blood circulation is increased, the skin benefits from nutrients in the blood. More immediately, a boost in circulation results in a gorgeous glow.
A well-rounded face yoga routine will help decrease the build up of lactic and uric said in muscle tissue and may also assist in reducing puffiness around the eyes.
Stimulated production of elastin and collagen.
Dermatologist Dr. Bindu Sthalekar confirms that facial exercise stimulates the production of collagen and elastin fibers to give the skin a more taut appearance.
How to practice facial yoga:
Face yoga expert Danielle Collins recommends practicing face yoga for at least 20 minutes a day for six days a week. Practicing for less time, however, can still yield results—even if you’re just able to work in five minutes of face yoga a day. Lasting results (i.e. results beyond that “yoga glow”) may be very subtle and may not appear for a few months, so patience is key here.
Have you tried face yoga? What are your thoughts on facial exercise?
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Photo: Face Yoga Method