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You’ve probably heard of traditional yoga, which uses strengthening poses to tone the muscles of the body. But what about the muscles in your face? Learn about the exercise techniques that experts say can delay the natural aging process, improve skin texture, and even alter the shape of the face.
What is Face Yoga?
Face yoga is exactly what it sounds like: exercise techniques that target the muscles of the face. Similar to gua sha, a traditional Chinese therapy that uses dermal friction to stimulate blood flow, yoga for the face brings a boost of circulation to your muscles.
It’s a way to dust off all 42 muscles in your face and show them the same attention you give to the muscles in your arms, legs and core.
Studies show that yoga face exercises can be a powerful anti-aging tool because they firm the muscles that naturally soften as the body ages. The stimulation of blood flow improves skin tone and complexion, even smoothing out wrinkles. Practicing a daily routine can be a natural alternative to plastic surgery because it will change the shape of the face over time.
How Face Yoga Works
You can practice yoga for the face every day or just a few times a week. Most exercises involve using your fingers to stimulate your facial muscles in repetitive motions. Each exercise takes only a few seconds, and a full “workout” takes 20-30 minutes.
Our skin goes through elastosis as we grow older, meaning it slowly loses strength and resistance to gravity. Collagen, which helps keep our skin firm and taut, also slows down in production over time. Saggy, wrinkled skin develops on the face as a result.
While there is no reversing the natural ageing process, research suggests that strengthening the muscles underneath the skin can extend its elasticity. Face yoga is one of the most effective facial exercises you can to do achieve this.
Dr. Suzanne Olbricht, an associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, says that building muscle tone in the face can help fight gravity. Everyone has a layer of fat underneath the skin, and as we age, gravity naturally pulls the fat in our faces down. Dr. Olbricht says that facial yoga techniques can strengthen muscles that hold those layers of fat and skin in place.
Dr. Olbricht also believes that yoga for the face lessens the appearance of scars by making the skin more pliable. Scarred areas of skin tend to be thicker, and a daily routine of stretching and massaging the muscles underneath can help to thin and reduce the damage on the surface.
Is Face Yoga Effective?
Researchers at the Feinberg School of Medicine put face yoga to the test in a 2018 study. A small group of women between the ages of 40 to 65 performed a 20-minute daily yoga facial routine for 20 weeks. They used exercises that focused on tightening cheek muscles, as well as firming the muscles around the mouth and eyes.
While only 16 women completed the entire length of the study, results showed that the participants who did complete the full 20 weeks of face yoga appeared three years younger than they did before. Dr. Murad Alam, who trained the women in the facial exercise techniques, says,
“The exercises enlarge and strengthen the facial muscles, so the face becomes firmer and more toned and shaped like a younger face.”
Experts have different opinions on the results of yoga for the face. While research may point to its effectiveness, Dr. Olbricht says practitioners should expect very subtle changes. For quicker and more visible results, cosmetic procedures like dermal fillers can add a youthful glow without the need for a daily workout.
Dermatologist Shilpi Khetarpal, MD. says the key to successful face yoga is practicing consistently with patience. Exercises can take as long as four weeks to start visibly changing the face. Dr. Khetarpal says that 20-30 minutes of yoga for the face will get results, especially if you desire sculpted cheekbones.
Face Yoga Exercises
If you’re ready to try the most effective facial exercises, start by incorporating this 10-minute set of face yoga techniques into your morning or bedtime routine. You may want to laugh at how odd it looks in the mirror, but give it a try, and remember to breathe deeply just like you would in regular yoga.
For specific exercises to combat a double chin, check out this blog on How to Get Rid of Neck Fat.
The Cheek Lifter
This exercise fights gravity and premature aging by sculpting the cheek muscles that hold everything in place. It can also tone the upper lip.
Smile, then open your mouth like a long “O,” and fold your upper lip over your top teeth. You should look like a happy, toothless baby! Keep smiling to lift your cheek muscles, then place your fingers on the top parts of the cheeks, directly under your eyes. Release the cheek muscles to lower them to a resting position.
Repeat this routine of lifting and lowering the cheeks at least ten times.
Happy Cheeks Sculpting
This is one of the most effective facial exercises for shaping the cheekbones. This technique also lifts and supports the middle of the face.
Smile widely with your lips closed, while rolling your lips out to show as much of them as possible. If the corners of your mouth are burning slightly, that’s good.
Press your index fingers just above the corners of the mouth, then slide them up to the top of the cheekbones, pressing firmly and holding for 20 seconds. Stay below the eyes, not too far up. Repeat this exercise at least two more times.
The Eyebrow Lifter
This exercise targets the area between your eyebrows, keeping your brows lifted and smoothing out “11 lines” that develop at the center of the forehead.
Press three fingertips under each eyebrow to stretch your eyes open. Smile with your mouth while trying to frown with your eyebrows. Your brow muscles should push down against your fingertips. Close your eyelids tightly, roll your eyeballs up to the top of your head, keep smiling and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat this exercise at least two more times.