Face yoga: Four anti-ageing exercises to try now

Incorporating some facial exercises into your daily routine could benefit your skin hugely [Photo: Getty]

Given that it’s a new year, we’re more aware than ever when it comes to getting fit and going to the gym. Whether it’s barre class, boxing or hula hooping, there’s a fitness class for every part of our body that we want to blitz, but what about the one part of the body we never think to exercise? Our face.

There is now scientific evidence proving that exercising the face can actually make you look younger. The study, published this month by researchers at Northwestern University, found that 20 weeks of facial exercise resulted in women appearing younger, on average, by three years.

Do our faces need exercise? Can you spot-reduce a double chin? You may not think facial exercise is a real thing but, like the rest of your body, your face is also composed of a network of muscles. Whether it’s smiling, frowning, talking or chewing – there are 43 facial muscles that we use on a daily basis, some more than others. The good news is that facial exercise is sweat-free, simple to do and easy to build into your daily routine. 

We caught up with Danielle Collins, a leading Face Yoga specialist, who created a 20-minute daily Face Yoga Method which is now practiced by over 300 professionals worldwide. It’s rumoured that Meghan Markle is a fan of facial exercise too and if it’s good enough for a future royal, we’re interested. 

What is face yoga?

Face Yoga is a term used to describe a series of facial exercises and stretches, including massage and acupressure. Regularly practicing face yoga can improve skintone, reduce headaches and produce a healthy glow. Like full body yoga, there is also an element of breathing which can relax inner tension and result in that holistic feeling of wellbeing for both the mind and body. It’s important to note that there is no need to do ordinary yoga in order to enjoy Face Yoga, so no flexibility needed!

Here’s the science part

There are several layers within the face which require different exercises. The hypodermis, the lowest layer, consists of muscles and fatty tissue. The dermis, the middle layer, is made up of connective tissue and the epidermis is the upper layer which we commonly know as skin cells. Working all these layers correctly, increases blood circulation, allowing more oxygen and more nourishment to reach the outermost cells of the skin.

Face Yoga techniques are also designed to stimulate collagen and elastin production – the natural plumping agents which result in a firmer and healthier complexion. The result is a clear, glowing complexion with less toxins and a better ability to absorb moisture.

How often do you need to do it?

It is never too late to start improving the health of your face. Danielle says “My method takes 20 minutes, which can be done in two 10 minute sessions but anything is better than nothing. Even a couple of minutes is fine, as long as you are doing it regularly.”

Face Yoga can be done sitting, standing, lying down – wherever the mood takes you. At first you may want to practice them in a mirror and don’t forget to remove contact lenses or glasses before you start. Always drink a glass of water after the programme to hydrate the skin and help with toxin removal.

You should see and feel some difference straight away. Just like with full body exercise, your muscles may feel they have had a good workout and you should have a rosy glow. As a general rule, you should start to see more of a long term improvement in your face and neck after 2 weeks. After 2-4 months, you will notice you have less fine lines and less tension and people will notice you look healthier and more energised. Within 6-9 months people have reported that they look and feel many years younger and feel more relaxed within themselves.

Face Yoga exercises to try out:

1. The Owl

Make a big C shape with your thumb and index fingers. Place your index finger just above and parallel to your eyebrows and your thumbs on your cheeks. Start to pull down with the index fingers while trying to raise your eyebrows and making the eyes wide. Hold for two seconds, relax and repeat again. Now do three more times. Then hold this position for ten seconds. This will firm up the forehead, reducing lines and wrinkles. 

2. Circle the Eyes

First place your middle fingers at the beginning of your eyebrows. Start to gently tap around your eyes following the top of your eyebrow and then continue under your eye just at the top of your cheekbones. Then continue to the inside corners of your eye. Then repeat, going in the opposite direction, making little tapping motions. This is great for reducing eye wrinkles, boosting circulation and relaxing the muscles. Then with your index fingers very gently stroke just under your eyes from the nose outwards four times to warm up and relax the eye area. This helps to reduce bags and puffiness under the eyes by removing toxins and increasing blood flow and oxygen to the area. 

3. Swan Neck

Begin looking straight ahead with your chin level. Turn your head to the right so that it is even with your right shoulder and then tilt your head backwards. Hold for six to eight seconds. Return your head to the forward position with your chin level. Turn your head to the left, even with your left shoulder. Tilt your head back and hold for six to eight seconds – repeat up to three times. This lifts and tones the neck muscles therefore firming lines and wrinkles on the side of the neck and face.      

4. Giraffe

Looking straight ahead place your finger tips on the top of your neck and lightly stroke the skin down as you tilt your head back. Bring your head back down and repeat twice more. Then jut your lower lip out as far as possible, place your fingers on your collarbone and point your chin upwards, pulling the corners of your mouth down. Hold for 4 deep breaths. This releases neck tension, tones and lift the neck area.

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