Have you ever been to a yoga or exercise class that included exercising your face?
I’m guessing not. If so, you’re missing out on exercising 42 muscles in your face and 20 in the neck! Plus, what is the one part of our body that is always exposed? Your face of course! Even with a mask on, it’s what everyone sees and it says a lot about yourself.
About six months ago I started on a face yoga journey that quickly became a part of my daily routine. What prompted me was in November of 2020 I had extensive Mohs surgery on my face to remove cancerous squamous cells. This wasn’t my 1st Mohs surgery, but the most extensive and hopefully my last.
After five hours with my amazing and talented dermatologist/surgeon, I was left with no left nostril and a huge chunk of my left cheek gone. I literally had a hole in my face. (I have a photo of it, but will spare you the gory details)
Over the next six months it took three surgeries with an equally wonderful and talented plastic surgeon to fix it.
This experience, at 68 yrs. old, made me determined to do everything I could to get my face back to as near to my normal as possible. After much research and determination, I’m in a much better place now. More so than before. Will the scars go completely away, probably not. But that doesn’t mean I don’t try to be the best that I can be now.
This personal journey has changed me in a big way and all for the better. I hope it brings you hope and to never give up to the challenges in your life.
My face yoga journey began with youtube videos. This lead me to taking two courses, getting a face yoga journal, and watch/follow several teachers on youtube. Now I can pick and choose from hundreds of techniques that I like best for my needs. I've also done research and have totally revamped my personal skincare routine. In as little as 5-15 minutes a day, (I often do 20-30 min. because I love it) you can exercise and relax the muscles in your face and also help your lymphatic system do its job.
With an improved daily skin care routine added to the facial exercises, you can help reverse some of the aging process. If you’re in your 40's, 50’s, 60’s or older, you’re not going to look 21 again, sorry. But by exercising your face and taking better care of your skin, you can make noticeable differences in your face. No botox or other interventions that can be harmful and not lasting. A face yoga practice is lasting.
Nobody is going to see the results of doing crunches unless you’re in your bathing suit, but your face, that's different. No one can miss it, unless you decide to never go out in public again. But putting all the “way you look” aside, exercising your face, like your body, is good for your overall health for both men and women.
Why is it called face yoga? Well, if you’ve ever been to a yoga class you’ll know that a traditional class is divided into sections. First it’s centering and/or letting go. Then the bulk of a class is doing asana, the movements to strengthen and stretch the body. Lastly is relaxation. A face yoga routine pretty much follows the same outline. Some teachers more so than others.
It’s also important to make yourself aware of old habits you do that are counterproductive to better looking skin. I’m still working on this, but awareness is key.
Examples are: bringing your chin down to look at your computer and/or phone and being aware of your habitual expressions that cause lines and creases. This is huge,try it while looking in the mirror. Yikes! Horizontal forehead lines and the #11 lines (lines between the eyebrows) are common for the many people that use these areas instead of their eyes when expressing certain emotions.
What’s this mean? Well, even when you’re wearing a mask, you know when someone is smiling because the eyes smile too. You may not be aware that you’ve been wrinkling your forehead every time you’re mad, questioning something or even when you're surprised. Face yoga helps you see and fix those old habits that show up on your face.
I’ll give you a few examples of Face Yoga so you have an idea what I’m talking about. Please have clean hands and face before doing these exercises.
Starting with the forehead:
1. Place the palm of one hand on the opposite side of the forehead and swipe across. Immediately do the same thing with the other hand. With a nice, easy rhythm slide your palms gently back and forth across the forehead. This releases tension to help lessen those horizontal lines. Do for 1 minute. ****Never ever drag the skin!
2. #11 Lines: With your knuckle or pad of your thumb, gently swipe upward from between your eyebrows about 3/4 to 1 inch, then gently flick it off. Repeat from starting position, continue for 1 minute.
3. Hands gently pressing on your forehead and little fingers holding the eyebrows still, look up with your eyes, then left, then right and down. Do this 4-5 times then reverse the direction. Don’t do this quickly! Hold each of the 4 directions for a second or two. This works the circular muscle around the eyes. Do for 1 minute. Then stare at a spot in front of you with eyes wide. Hold for 1 minute blinking as little as possible.
4. Make a V with your fingers and slide them across the face first with the right and then the left. The index fingers slide across and above the lips, the middle fingers below the lips. You can gently turn your head opposite direction of the hands to get a steady rhythm. Do for 1 minute. This relaxes and stimulates the cheek muscles.
5. Start with lips gently closed and squeeze the lips together to make a straight line using your index fingers and thumbs. Hold for the 20 seconds. Release and repeat 2 more times.
6. Neck & Nasolabial fold lines (aka, smile lines) Place and gently press your index fingers on the labial fold lines to smooth them out, thumbs on your jaw bones. Lift your chin upward a little if that’s okay with your neck. With your mouth gently closed, bring the tip of your tongue up and down touching the roof of your mouth. You can feel the neck muscles at the top of the neck working. Do 3 sets of 10 with a slight rest between each set.
Lastly the Jawline
7. We often hold a lot of tension in our jaw. This exercise helps the jaw muscles to relax.
(*Tension =’s lines) Using your thumb and first two fingers starting at the tip of the chin, as though you’re going to pinch the skin, but don’t pull the skin, press into the bone with a slight squeeze of the fingertips. Work both hands at the same time moving along the jaw bone to the base of the ears. You can stop for a moment and press, making little circles, in the acupressure point in that hollow space under the ears with your index finger. Do this for about 5 seconds. Then lift and start again at the chin. Do this 3 times.
Important: Whenever you’re exercising the face and neck, you never ever want to do a technique that makes more lines or wrinkles on the face. It’s good to practice in front of a mirror in the beginning to be sure you’re not.
I’ve just barely touched the surface when it comes to face yoga techniques. There are hundreds. What I’ve shown you here are a few that address each area of the face and neck.
So don’t just work your body from the neck down, include the face as well.
My go to Face Yoga teacher links:
Danielle has many youtube teaching videos. This is where I got started. She offers a 10 day course, a face yoga app, books and other skin care products.
I took Fumiko’s 6 week Boot Camp course and it changed my life. I learned so much more about caring for my skin from the inside and outside. My routine is set for life, especially that scoop of collagen I put in my morning tea everyday. She’s got a lot of products too. I’ve been making my own for years, but with her advice, I’ve improved them.
Masumi is Japanese, as is Fumiko, where face yoga is common. She has many youtube videos up. What I love about her, besides her cheerful manner, is the videos tend to be shorter. Masumi also gives many techniques the others don't. They are timed and usually zero in on one or two areas of the face. I can do two, three or four videos within 25-30 minutes and be done for the day.
Be well, be safe!