In the quest for healthier, younger-looking skin, numerous people have turned to creams, serums, and even invasive cosmetic procedures. However, a growing trend in natural skincare, known as face yoga, is challenging these methods with its holistic approach. Harnessing the power of physical exercise for the face, this unique practice has gained substantial popularity in recent years. This article explores face yoga—its origins, benefits, techniques, and the science that supports its effectiveness.
What is Face Yoga?
Face yoga is a series of facial exercises designed to tone and stimulate the approximately 57 muscles that comprise the human face and neck. The practice aims to promote a youthful and radiant appearance by improving blood circulation, oxygenating the skin cells, releasing tension, and stimulating collagen and elastin production. Much like traditional yoga, face yoga emphasizes the connection between mind, body, and spirit, with the facial exercises often paired with deep, meditative breathing.
History and Origins
The concept of facial exercises isn’t new. Ancient Chinese and Indian cultures practiced facial massage techniques to improve beauty and overall wellbeing, but the term ‘face yoga’ emerged only in the 21st century. Annette Sasaki-Scanlon is often credited as a pioneer, who started developing facial exercises in the 1970s. However, it was Fumiko Takatsu, a Japanese yoga teacher, who popularized it globally in the early 2000s. Today, face yoga has a substantial following, with practitioners hailing from various age groups and backgrounds.
Scientific Basis and Benefits
Face yoga’s effectiveness has started gaining recognition in scientific circles. A 2018 study conducted by the Northwestern University in the US found that regular facial exercises resulted in fuller upper and lower cheeks, making the participants look an average of three years younger.
Beyond these aesthetic improvements, face yoga offers several health benefits:
1. Improves blood circulation
Facial exercises stimulate blood flow, thereby nourishing cells with oxygen and nutrients, which enhances the skin’s glow and combats dullness.
2. Promotes collagen and elastin production
By working out the facial muscles, face yoga may stimulate collagen and elastin production—two proteins vital for skin elasticity and suppleness.
3. Relieves tension
Face yoga can help alleviate tension in the facial muscles, where stress can often accumulate, resulting in headaches, eye strain, or jaw discomfort.
4. Boosts mood
Like any form of exercise, face yoga can trigger the release of endorphins—the ‘feel-good’ hormones—improving overall mood and promoting relaxation.
Techniques in Face Yoga
Consistency is the key to reaping the full advantages of face yoga. Begin your journey with the following exercises to experience optimal benefits:
1. Cheek Lifter
Open your mouth into a relaxed ‘O’, fold your lower lip and corners of your lips into your mouth and smile with the corners of your mouth while placing your fingers on the top part of your cheeks. Move the cheeks upwards towards your eyes, release and repeat.
2. The ‘V’
Begin by bringing both middle fingers together at the inner corner of your eyebrows. Then, using your index fingers, gently apply pressure to the outer corners of your eyebrows. As you do this, direct your gaze towards the ceiling and raise your lower eyelids, creating a firm squint. Hold this position momentarily, and then relax your facial muscles. Finally, conclude the exercise by tightly squeezing your eyes shut for a duration of ten seconds.
3. The ‘Smiling Fish Face’
Create the “fish face” by sucking in your cheeks and lips, forming a pout. While maintaining this expression, attempt to smile as best as you can. Hold this pose for a count of five seconds, and then release. Repeat this exercise multiple times to maximize its effectiveness.
4. The ‘Lion Face’
Inhale deeply while clenching your fists. When exhaling, stick out your tongue, roll your eyes, and open your hands. This exercise helps relax all facial muscles.
Face yoga offers a natural, non-invasive alternative for those seeking to maintain a youthful appearance and achieve healthier skin. While more scientific studies are needed to substantiate its long-term effects, the benefits and joy derived from the practice are undeniable for many. Remember, consistency is key in face yoga, just like with traditional yoga or any form of exercise. So why not give it a try? You might just find it’s the missing piece in your skincare routine or your journey towards holistic wellbeing.