If you’re into natural skincare, there’s a good chance you might have heard of face yoga.
Sparsely practised until recent years, interest in this alternative beauty regime has been growing steadily over the last decade as more of us look for natural and non-invasive ways to reduce the signs of ageing and improve the health and appearance of our skin.
So what actually is face yoga?
In essence, the term face yoga describes a collection of exercises, each designed to target different areas and muscle groups in the face.
In doing so, it’s thought that the practice can help to improve the appearance of the skin through toning and strengthening the muscles, improving circulation, increasing collagen production, and even reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Here at yogajala, while we believe that aging is a completely natural and beautiful part of the life experience, we understand that for many, maintaining youthful skin can foster confidence and better mental health. This is why, in this article, we’ll be looking at:
- The history and origins of face yoga
- The research behind the practice – how effective is it?
- Possible negative side effects
- Famous proponents of the technique
- 5 simple at-home yoga exercises for face toning
History and Origins of Face yoga
While precise origins aren’t super clear, it’s believed that face yoga has been practiced in some form or another for centuries in various ancient cultures.
For example, in certain traditions of Chinese medicine, the use of facial acupressure and massage was common practice to improve skin health.
Further examples are seen in Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient and hugely influential Indian system of healing. Here certain pressure points were stimulated through massage and movement to improve circulation, detoxification, and overall skin health.
Fast forward to the late 1990s and early 2000s, and the evolution of face yoga practices becomes more traceable. During this period, the importance of natural beauty care began to gain momentum.
As the demand grew, skincare experts and yoga practitioners began to openly develop and promote specific facial exercises and techniques, aiming to tone and strengthen muscles to improve skin and reduce signs of aging.
Nowadays, face yoga appears to be more popular than ever as the demand for natural and non-invasive skincare grows.
With an abundance of different face yoga programs and classes already available, options and research is only growing, with many teachers and practitioners continuing to develop their own methods and techniques.
How Effective is Facial Yoga?: Looking at The Research
So, we know what face yoga is and where it comes from – but how effective is it really?
Well, despite the growing popularity of the practice, research is fairly limited. However, the research that does exist has shown promising results.
For example, one study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology (2018) observed 20 women who did facial exercises for 8 weeks.
They found that each participant had an improvement in skin elasticity and a reduction in wrinkles compared to the control group.
Another study titled ‘Effects of Facial Exercise for Facial Muscle Strengthening and Rejuvenation: Systematic Review‘ (2021) agreed that prolonged and consistent practice of facial yoga can improve skin elasticity and muscle tone in middle-aged women.
So overall, while more research is needed to really understand the benefits and best techniques to achieve optimal results, it seems that face yoga can be an effective tool in improving skin appearance and elasticity.
The good thing is, the practices are simple, free, and can be done from anywhere – so who knows, maybe it’s worth a try to see if it works for you! We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments section below.
Are there any negative effects of face yoga?
As research remains minimal, as of yet there are no verified negative side effects to face yoga.
However, as with any exercise, there is always a risk of injury if not performed correctly, such as cramping, over-exertion or muscle strain. For these reasons, it’s important to follow proper techniques and to listen closely to your body to avoid injury.
We’d also recommend starting with simpler exercises and gradually increasing the intensity and complexity of the exercises as you gain experience and awareness of how your body responds to the practice.
In addition to this, some experts believe that face yoga can in some cases actually lead to more wrinkles.
Their reasoning recognises that many facial wrinkles such as crow’s-feet, laugh lines, and forehead wrinkles usually result from repetitive facial muscle activity such as frowning or smiling, and that face yoga often encourages contorting your face in similar ways.
Despite no known severe side effects of face yoga, some people should exercise caution before practicing.
For example, anyone with an existing facial injury or condition, such as facial paralysis, Bell’s Palsy or recent facial injury/surgery should always consult with a medical professional before starting any new exercise routine to ensure that it’s safe.
Famous proponents of Face Yoga
As well as promising research, there are many respected proponents of face yoga who testify to the benefits of the practice. These include:
#1: Fumiko Takatsu.
Founder of the Face Yoga Method, Japanese-born Takatsu has been promoting the benefits of face yoga for more than 20 years and has authored several books on the subject.
#2: Annelise Hagen.
Yoga teacher and author of “The Yoga Face: Eliminate Wrinkles with the Ultimate Natural Facelift”, Hagen is considered a ‘face yoga expert’ evidenced through her step-by-step guide to various face yoga exercises.
Her book compiles a number of studies and testimonies supporting face yoga and its age-combatting effects.
#3: Koko Hayashi.
Skincare expert and the founder of the “Koko Hayashi Face Yoga Method” Hayashi is a fervent believer that exercising the 42 muscles of the face regularly will foster the maintenance of youthful skin.
According to Hayashi, this is best achieved in combination with drinking lots of water, sleeping well and reducing stress.
#4: Megha Toora.
Yoga teacher and creator of her own technique of face yoga, Toora’s approach focuses on the holistic wellness of the face, believing that practising face yoga will not only help to improve the skin’s appearance, but can also reduce stress, tension and headaches.
#5: And Many More . . .
In addition to the above-mentioned, testimonies are growing.
With increasing numbers of celebrities and beauty experts starting to incorporate and promote face yoga as part of their skincare routines. These include Gwyneth Paltrow, Meghan Markle, Jennifer Aniston, and Miranda Kerr.
5 Simple Yoga Exercises for Face Toning
Now you know a little more about facial yoga, time to look at some simple exercises you can try at home. For each, it’s important to be calm and present, breathing deeply to relax your face while performing these exercises to achieve optimum results.
#1: Forehead Smoother
This easy little movement targets the forehead, and as the name suggests, it’s all about smoothing out the wrinkles and relieving tension in the area.
How to practice:
To start, place both your index fingers against your temples and gently press.
Next, using your middle fingers, gently smooth over your entire forehead, focusing on any wrinkled areas, all the while keeping your index fingers pressed lightly against your temples.
Perform this exercise for 5-10 seconds and release, then repeat 10 times.
#2: Cheek Lifter
This exercise is designed to target the broad cheek area, aiming to tone and lift the muscles in the area to give your face and cheekbones a more defined shape.
How to practice:
To practice the cheek lifter, simply suck in your cheeks as far in as is comfortable and hold for 5-10 seconds.
Release, blow out the cheeks for a few seconds before sucking in once more for the same length of time. Repeat this up to 10 times. Warning – you might feel the burn!
#3: Lip Pull
This exercise targets the many muscles around and in the mouth, designed to improve lustre, smooth wrinkles and improve the plumpness and shape of your lips.
How to practice:
To practice, pout (or pucker!) your lips tightly and hold for 5-10 seconds. Release, smile to release tension, and then repeat up to 10 times.
#4: Eye Squeezer
Targeting the area around the eye, this exercise is designed to lessen wrinkles and fine lines around the eyes, improving the overall appearance of the eyes for a more youthful appearance.
How to practice:
The eye squeezer consists of simply closing your eyes tightly and holding for around 5-10 seconds, releasing and then repeating 10 times.
#5: Neck Lifter:
Targeting the complex muscles and connective tissues of the neck, the neck lifter is all about toning and lifting the neck area to promote firmer skin and reduce wrinkles.
How to practice:
To practice this facial yoga exercise, just tilt back your head as far as feels natural and comfortable and hold for between 5-10 seconds. Release, tilt the head forward to release any built-up tension, and then repeat this cycle 10 times.
Interested in natural healthcare? Why not check out our other article on natural mouth care below!