When it comes to ageing gracefully, yoga is the body’s not-so-secret weapon – but did you know that it can work wonders on the face, too? Read on for your Face Yoga action plan…

By Lucy Miller (Illustrations by Glen Wilkins)

Face Yoga – it sounds like a fad, doesn’t it? But think about it: we take the time and effort to exercise our bodies to keep them firm and fit. So, why not spend some time exercising our face muscles?

In fact, did you know that there are over 42 muscles in your face? All of these muscles need to be stimulated and exercised daily. ‘This will help smooth lines, release tension and keep you looking and feeling the best version of you,’ says Danielle Collins, world leading face Yoga expert and author of The Face Yoga Journal (£14.99).

And the best way to do this is by trying Face Yoga. Rooted in traditional Indian and Chinese healing techniques, facial yoga is a safe and non-invasive method which involves exercising all the muscles and parts of the face. This is done by performing and holding certain expressions, as well as massaging areas of the face.

‘This increases blood circulation and provides more oxygen to the forehead, chin, eye sockets and cheekbones, while also stimulating collagen and elastin, which are situated in the middle dermal layer of the skin and help give you a smoother, more supple and youthful complexion,’ says Collins.

‘The technique also increases the respect, understanding and adoration you have for yourself. This is because every time you touch your face and feel the love running through your hands, you’ll promote self-love and compassion, which will leave you happier, healthier and radiating a more youthful look.’ Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

How does Face Yoga work?

Face Yoga combines facial exercises, facial massage, acupressure and facial relaxation, which can help raise droopy eyes and mouth corners, firm and lift cheeks, reduce double chins and jowls, and smooth crow’s feet and forehead furrows.

This not only strengthens the muscles but can also leave the skin glowing by increasing blood flow to it. According to science, this could make you look three years younger!

Indeed, researchers from Northwestern University in America found that women who practised facial yoga every day for eight weeks, then every other day for 12 weeks, looked younger at the end of the process than those who didn’t practise it.

This was down to making the facial muscles stronger and larger, whilst reducing wrinkling and rounding facial contours. The experts noted that it also helped to create a more Zen outlook on life, which could instantly take tension away from the face.

‘It’s so easy to carry tension from negative emotions in our faces,’ explains Collins. ‘Anxiety, fearfulness and worry cause us to tighten and constrict our facial muscles, which we often do subconsciously, and it can leave us looking stern and tense.’

Getting started with Face Yoga

‘The following four-week plan has been designed to strengthen and build up underlying muscle in key areas such as your cheeks, jawline, neck, eyelids and eyebrows,’ explains Collins.

‘Each week, you’ll be introduced to a new Face Yoga technique that focuses on one part of the face, plus a mantra, which is a positive phrase to repeat whilst doing your weekly exercise. Say these aloud or in your mind for a positive impact on your mindset, your physical body and, of course, your face.’

4-week face Yoga Plan

Do these exercises from The Face Yoga Journal daily to gain a more youthful appearance in just four weeks.

WEEK 1: Smooth your forehead

Why? This exercise helps to relax and soften the frontal muscle in your forehead and prevents stress-related expression lines.

Mantra: ‘Love is all around me, within me and radiating from me’

How to do it: Place your two index fingers together between your eyebrows. Gently move them away from each other while making little semi-circles in a line above your eyebrows.

When you get to the outer edges of your eyebrows, lift your fingers off and move them to the middle of your forehead, making the same pattern out towards your hairline. Then do the same to the top of your forehead. Repeat three times.

WEEK 2: Lift your neck and chin

Why? This move is great for releasing pain and tightness in the jaw area, which reduces tension-induced lines. It will also help to tone the area around your mouth, and the massage is great for boosting circulation to give skin a natural glow.

Mantra: ‘I know and understand that I deserve to feel great’

How to do it: Make both hands into a fist and place your finger joints under the highest part of your cheekbones so the index finger joint is closest to your ears. Start to open and close your mouth slowly, using a mirror to check alignment. Continue for 60 seconds.

Week 3: Help prevent crow’s feet

Why? This technique helps to firm the orbicularis oculi muscle around the eye. This can lift the eye area, preventing and reducing lines and wrinkles under the eye and around the outer edges of the eye.

Mantra: ‘I see, trust and know my own inner and outer beauty’

How to do it: Using both hands, place your index fingers in a horizontal position on the outer edge of your eyebrows, slightly smoothing the skin, and place your middle fingers, also horizontally, just under your eyes on the bone.

Making sure no lines are created in the forehead or around your eyes, half close your eyes, aiming to feel a little shake or pulse. Hold for two seconds and then open your eyes. Repeat for 60 seconds.

WEEK 4: Firm your cheeks

Why? This is a deeply strengthening technique for the muscles in the cheek area, mouth and jaw. It also helps lift and firm sagging skin on the cheeks.

Mantra: ‘I speak words that resonate with who I truly am’

How to do it: Place the end of a clean teaspoon in your mouth, with your lips tucked in and the corners of your mouth lifted up. Using both hands, place your index fingers on the nasolabial folds (commonly known as smile lines) and use them to smooth any lines created and to add some resistance.

Move the spoon up and down 10 times, then take it out and relax. Repeat three times, then close your eyes and relax your face for 30 seconds.

Holistic methods to prevent premature ageing

Look after your skin by employing these methods to help prevent premature ageing…

Meditation

Meditation is a great way to manage stress by lowering cortisol levels and raising both serotonin and dopamine levels, which can instantly have an impact on your facial expressions and facial tension.

Yoga

It’s easy to hold onto stress and other emotions, in the form of tension. Yoga helps to move energy around the body whilst reducing stress levels. It can also help to boost circulation to the skin for a ‘glowy’ look.

Breathwork

Taking a deep breath calms and centres you by increasing the levels of the ‘love’ hormone oxytocin, which instantly counteracts the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol can cause inflammation and ageing of the skin.

Gratitude

Taking the time to slow down and appreciate the good things in life can also help balance your nervous system, as well as increase the production of the anti-ageing compound dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which is linked to vibrancy, joy and feelings of calm.

Click here for a power yoga workout!

SubscribeSubscribe
6 issues for £12 plus a set of Boompods Zerobuds!

Subscribe to Women’s Fitness Magazine today and get 6 issues for only £12, plus receive a set of Boompods Zerobuds worth £29.99