In my ongoing journey to find opportunities for self-care (with bonus points if it simultaneously helps me to age gracefully), I came across face yoga.
Just like a regular yoga class that you might do at the gym to keep your muscles strong, face yoga is believed to tone your facial muscles so that you can achieve healthy, younger-looking skin. Unlike yoga for your body, there aren’t any Warrior or Tree poses involved in face yoga. “Face yoga” is really just a cheeky way (pun, intended) of describing how you’ll move your face in specific ways to awaken and tone muscles.
“There are two kinds of facial muscles: sleeping muscles and overworking muscles. In face yoga, we want to relax the overworking muscles for wrinkle reduction and wake up sleeping muscles to lift up the face,” says Koko Hayashi, a celebrity face yoga expert. It’s all about letting go of tension, breaking the cycle of using the same muscles from our day-to-day activities, and activating unused muscles.
Aside from toning facial muscles for a firmer jawline and sculpted cheeks, facial yoga increases blood circulation to contribute to a glow from the inside out. Consider it a holistic approach to complement your existing skincare routine: “Facial yoga isn’t a replacement for skincare since it’s about the muscles underneath your skin, not what’s on the surface of your skin,” says Hayashi. “It won’t make acne disappear or clear your pores, but it’ll have an effect on wrinkles, tightening, and the shape of your face,” she says. As with most things, facial yoga isn’t a cure-all for younger-looking skin. “You still have to eat a healthy diet, too.”
When you’re diligent about exercising for your body, the same payoff happens when you commit to face yoga. “Ideally when you start off, you do these facial exercises every day for about three minutes a day to get the most of the benefits. You can see the effects of your exercises in as little as two weeks,” she says. You get what you put into it: Studies from JAMA Dermatology showed a group of people who did facial exercises for half an hour every day for eight weeks reported an improvement in more toned and sculpted cheeks. “And the good thing is, once you learn the basics of how to move your facial muscles in a more effective way, you don’t need to do so many exercises the rest of your life, because in theory you’ll be using your muscles in the correct way,” she says.
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The practice of facial yoga has similar benefits to using a gua sha or jade roller, but more convenient to practice since you don’t need to use any tools to perform them. While I didn’t experience drastic changes after a month of facial yoga, I did feel like I had a more lifted appearance and I definitely relieved tension I’ve been holding in my jaw throughout the day. Ready to give it a try?
Correct Tongue Posture
In this video, Hayashi explains the practice of mewing (a phrase for the correct tongue posture named after the legendary Dr. Mew). Most people lay their tongue on the bottom of their mouth palate, which sags down the skin. Here, Hayashi shows how facial yoga can train your tongue to fully touch the top of your palate to create a more uplifted look overall.
Fake Fuller Lips
This tutorial shows how you can create a filler-like effect with the simple practice of face yoga. It goes over two exercises: “Lip Sumo” where you press the upper and lower lip together with equal pressure across the lips as tight as possible for 10 seconds. The logic is that when you train the muscles around your lips, they’re more activated and alert to create a fuller effect. The next exercise she calls “No Lip,” which involves creating a tiny smile (while sucking in your lips) to stretch out the muscles around your mouth.
Prevent a Double Chin
Hayashi walks us through how mewing can make your chin immediately look slimmer. The second facial yoga exercise goes through a neck and shoulder stretch and a pointy tongue position. Lastly, she teaches how to avoid bad overall posture (hunched over your work desk, for instance) and how gravity has an effect on skin sagging.
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