Face yoga

Yoga practitioners know that a daily dose of sun can help focus the mind, improve circulation and tone muscles. Now the face can get in on the action, as well, thanks to face yoga, an anti-aging exercise regime for the face.

As people age, a couple of things happen. Skin loses its elasticity, and fat pads below the skin become thinner -- resulting in increased sagging and wrinkled appearance.

In an effort to restore volume and tighten the skin, people are exercising their facial muscles to make them bigger and fill out their features for a more youthful appearance. After all, if planks, pushups, and treadmills help tone the core, upper arms and legs, why not put the more than 40 facial muscles to work?

Research is on their side. A pilot study published in 2018 in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) resulted in participants experiencing increased upper and lower cheek fullness and looked three years younger when they followed the 20-week prescribed facial exercise regime.

Exercises that engage, strengthen and tone facial muscles are collectively known as face yoga. As a form of resistance training, it can also help increase circulation to the skin.

The phenomenon is largely attributed to Fumiko Takatsu, creator of Face Yoga Method. A yogi for more than 30 years, she developed face yoga in 2006, finding inspiration in recovering from a high-impact car crash. Takatsu describes her techniques as a holistic approach of carefully developed facial exercises that are designed to replace cosmetic procedures naturally. While fillers and Botox are guaranteed to achieve a smoother complexion, they can be prohibitively expensive, involve needles and include risk of allergic reactions.

In contrast, face yoga offers a risk-free, low-cost alternative.

It does demand, however, effort. Exercises should be done daily, or every other day, and the regime is a workout. Participants use their fingers to aid in resistance training and hold poses for set periods of time. Think of it as facial circuit training. The exercises a person does depends on the desired facial sculpting affect they desire such as fuller cheeks, lifted eyebrows, developed temples or firmer upper eyelids, just to name a few.

“Many face yogis transition away from Botox or fillers with the help of facial exercises,” Takatsu says. “It puts the power back into our clients’ hands, and they no longer need to rely on cosmetics or risky and expensive procedures to get a youthful face. It’s helped them with a variety of conditions – asymmetry, pigmentation and for some, even relieves symptoms of Bell’s palsy.”

Takatsu reminds people that Face Yoga Method revolves around a well-rounded, mindful lifestyle where awareness is key.

“We do not measure face yoga’s success in terms of years,” she says. “Rather, we focus on helping people embrace their age and feel good and confident in their skin.”

However, Takatsu points out that most face yogis see noticeable results in as little as two weeks -- many even after a few days of diligent practice. Face yoga serves as a great addition to any existing skin care regimen to enhance the effectiveness of a person’s routine or products.

Start face yoga young and it serves as a preventative measure; but face yoga can be beneficial to anyone at any age.

“No matter your age, even a few times each week will yield results since we are working with very small muscles,” Takatsu says.

An internet search will reveal a large number of recommended face yoga exercises and videos. For more information on Takatsu’s Face Yoga Method, including exercises targeting specific areas of the face, visit faceyogamethod.com.