Here’s what we know and how to start a face yoga practice of your own…
This post is part of an ongoing collaboration with The Chalkboard Mag.
FACE YOGA IS becoming a major thing — even the Duchess of Sussex is doing it. As an avid devotee to natural beauty, Meghan Markle has listed face yoga as a key practice in her arsenal of anti-aging routines. If those sculpted cheekbones could talk, they might just tell you to jump on the face yoga bandwagon stat.
The idea behind face yoga is that the right facial exercises can improve facial volume by strengthening muscles attached to the skin while also relaxing deep-set lines. If you’ve developed too many laugh lines from all those viral puppy videos or an obvious brow furrow from giving your sister the side-eye for all those years — face yoga just may be just what you need to even things out.
Face Yoga Explained
Intuitively it sounds right: Your face, like any other area of the body, has multiple small muscles that are prone to relax and sag with age — and with it the skin attached. Thus toning and increasing blood flow can help sculpt, firm and lift your face. Practicing facial exercises with proper care and technique can provide a literal boost to your skin health and appearance.
Until recently the science has been lacking to back up these claims. Earlier this year dermatologists and researchers from Northwestern University teamed up with Gary Sikorski, the creator of Happy Face Yoga, in a clinical trial to test these theories. And the result held up. The dermatologists estimated that the women, on average, looked about three years younger in their photos from the end of the study versus the beginning.
Lead author Dr. Murad Alam, vice chair and professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, says that facial exercises improve appearance because they enlarge and strengthen facial muscles. “The face becomes firmer and more toned and shaped like a younger face,” he said. In other words, face yoga can be a low-cost, non-toxic and anti-aging treatment — and the implication that it can used as such is huge.
Ready, Set, Start!
Ready to begin your face yoga practice? It’s worth doing at home — the only equipment needed is you, your fingers and a mirror. Easy. But remember, this is exercise. Your face may strain while holding positions at first but work through it. A regular, daily practice will yield the best results!
If you’re the sort who needs an extra boost, there’s a place for that too. Try FaceGym (“a non-invasive workout targeting the forgotten 40 muscles of the face”) or FaceLove (“rooted in the healing power of touch”) in New York City. SkinFitGym is the “natural alternative to botox or plastic surgery” in LA.
Keep in mind that just as every body is different so is every face. Finding a face yoga practice that fits your needs may take a bit of trial and error. Be your own best study — try different poses and moves in the mirror. Take note of which muscle areas you’d like to pinpoint and improve. You may see the most skin health benefits through facial exercises targeting expression lines, sagging and circulation.
Experts recommend a practice of ten to fifteen minutes daily and for at least six to eight weeks before you’ll see improvements. Remember, like with any other workout program, results vary and consistency is key.
A Beginner’s Guide To Face Yoga
WAKE UP: Reach back with your tongue as far as it will go and breathe evenly through a few breaths — this will help your whole body, and especially your face, become alert.
LIFT CHEEKS: Purse lips together and smile without showing teeth, forcing cheek muscles up. Place fingers on corners of the mouth, and slide them up to the top of the cheeks. Hold for 20 seconds.
ERASE LAUGH LINES: Suck the insides of your cheeks in, almost like you’re making a fish face. Hold for a few seconds, keeping your eyes wide open. Once your eyes start to water (which shouldn’t hurt!), you may blink and release the pose.
ERASE FINE LINES: Target the vertical lines between your brows. Use your forefinger and thumb to push your eyebrows away from each other, which is the opposite direction they go when frowning or squinting.
FIRM EYELIDS: Eyelids tend to get heavier with age, so a little bit of stretching can help keep them healthy. Look upwards and raise your eyebrows at the same time. Then gently close your eyelids, while still looking up.
FIRM FOREHEAD: Make a big C shape with your thumb and index fingers. Place your index finger just above and parallel to your eyebrows and your thumbs on your cheeks. Start to pull down with the index fingers while trying to raise your eyebrows and making the eyes wide. Hold for two seconds, relax and repeat again. Do three more times then hold this position for ten seconds.
DEFINE JOWLS: Put two fingers to your closed lips to prevent air from escaping, and then fill your cheeks with air so they puff out. Hold for a few seconds then release with a soft exhale. This will raise everything in your face preventing the sagging in that area that comes with age. Use four fingers to massage upwards, starting at the collarbone and ending at the chin. Massage the neck alternatively with each hand using firm upward strokes. Repeat for about 20 quick strokes.