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What is face yoga and is it the secret to age-defying skin?

IMAGE VIA FACE GYM/INSTAGRAM

WORDS BY HANNAH COLE

A little downward dog for the jawline couldn’t hurt, could it?

Ageing is a funny thing. It feels like I take two steps forward and one backwards. As the months count down to my 30th birthday, I find myself reflecting on how far I have come body image-wise. Finally, I feel comfortable. I am loving, appreciating and nourishing my body more, and I’m happy to own my likes, dislikes and flawed personality.

At the same time, the love for my face is gradually dissipating. Throughout my twenties, I paid scant attention to my skin outside of a regular moisturising routine. Only in the last few years have I touched (and subsequently obsessed over) face masks and regular SPF application.


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Now I notice every line, every deepening wrinkle and the slight sag along my cheekbone. My eyes are rimmed with dark circles no matter how much sleep I get or how restorative it seems. Am I becoming vainer, or is age catching up with me?

All I want is to feel enriched and empowered with a glowing face, and I want it all without a hefty price tag. Is that so much to ask? Perhaps. But face yoga, according to many skin gurus, could be the free solution I’ve been seeking.

Please, explain. What is face yoga?

The concept of face yoga is nothing new. Celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow, Meghan Markle and Madonna are reportedly fans, and abundant blogs detail the precise steps to follow.

Essentially, the practice involves a series of exercises that work the face muscles, increase blood circulation and aid in detoxifying and nourishing the area. At the same time, the exercises help soften and relax muscles to alleviate any lingering tension and stress. It is precisely what it states: yoga, for the face.

Followers say that with regular practice, visible benefits abound. Face yoga can firm the neckline, reduce unwanted undereye circles, plump and correct sagging while also boosting confidence. It can brighten your face, minimise signs of ageing and help you achieve a noticeable glow. Basically, it sounds like gulping voraciously from the fountain of youth.

 

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A post shared by FACEGYM (@facegym)

One study found that with a daily 30-minute practice over 20 weeks, participants (all of which were middle-aged women) noted an improvement in their facial appearance. Their cheeks were noticeably fuller, and they recorded a heightened sense of personal satisfaction.

There are now several gyms and regimes purely dedicated to the face. In 2016, UK-based FaceGym launched promising “revolutionary” face workouts that offered transformation sans needles. Each session comprises 30 minutes of warm-up, cardio and cool down with an expert trainer in the studio (or online) to train facial muscles.

With the regime now boasting almost 700,000 followers on Instagram, global interest in exercising the face has exploded. If it’s caught the attention of that many people, they must be onto something. So what has my skin regime been missing?

Going under the knife (sans knife)

Many fans say that 30-minute facial yoga sessions, repeated daily or on alternate days, are ideal for achieving the best results. For my first session, I scheduled a half-hour window following the evening close of the laptop lid. After staring at a screen for hours, it was time to detoxify and rejuvenate. I adopted a lengthy routine I found online, incorporating exercises for each of the main facial areas.

To be honest, it was hard work – much more strenuous than I had anticipated. As with regular yoga, muscles that receive zero attention usually are isolated, stretched and put to work; I didn’t know half these muscles existed.

Be prepared to look ridiculous: I completed the poses facing the mirror so I could pay greater attention. Importantly, the writer of this workout insists, “If you can’t do a pose without furrows, don’t do it.”

 

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A post shared by FUMIKO TAKATSU (@faceyogamethod)

Instead of looking dainty and yogic, my nostrils flared oddly, and my ears wiggled on occasion. But following my first face yoga session, I felt stretched and refreshed. The sensation lingered along my cheekbone and jawline. It was incredibly rejuvenating to finish the series with the facial version of savasana (a little oil, a little massage, and a lot of tension release).

25 to 30 minutes is a long time, though – too long for a distractable mind like mine. Realistically, I will never commit to a new routine that exceeds the time it takes to make a coffee. Time is precious, darlings! No matter how revolutionary something claims to be, my internal clock is still ticking.

I decided to try Goop’s face yoga session next, as outlined by Soheila Ghassemi, a face yoga instructor and aesthetician. This session merely takes a few minutes to complete, and, based on my readings from other experts, as little as five minutes one or two times per day is beneficial.

For this session, Ghassemi recommends oiling up prior, making it easier to glide the fingers and palms over the face and stretch the appropriate areas. With only five key moves, the series was far less painful and difficult. It felt more soothing and nurturing yet still targeted the critical areas of concern (particularly the forehead and ‘eleven’ lines between my brows). ‘If it’s only a few minutes, maybe I could do this for real,’ I thought to myself.

And sure enough, the practice stuck. Within the week, I had stretched my jawline another four times, paving the way for a future habit. Do I look better instantly, or is it just my imagination? Are the remains of furrowed brows past slowly disappearing? Could I be turning back the clock?

Maybe I’ve had less to frown about recently, but I’m convinced. Add another face yoga follower to the list. I’ll keep reversing my age until it really is nothing but an insignificant number.

Fancy trying out some face yoga for yourself? Give this a whirl.

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