An alarming amount of Botox faces were spotted front row during September Fashion Weeks. But do you really want a frozen zombie face? We find out how facial yoga helps tone the face — naturally. As we age, collagen and elastin (the protein fibers responsible for maintaining the skin’s elasticity and structure) production decreases. In a desperate attempt to ward off fine lines and wrinkles, people splurge on Botox jabs and ‘miracle’ skin creams.
“Botox doesn’t last forever and skin creams are topical,” warns facial yoga expert and author of ‘Yoga Face’ Annelise Hagen. “Neither fix what’s going on underneath the skin’s surface, such as loss of muscle tone and lack of oxygen. Doing regular facial exercises increases circulation and blood flow to the face, which has been proven to prolong the production of collagen and elastin.”
Still skeptical? Annelise Hagen gives us the lowdown on facial yoga:
1. It is better than Botox: “Botox is a quick fix, the benefits are temporary. It’s so obvious when you get it done and the risk of that is people may make the assumption you are doing it because you have low self-esteem. Facial yoga addresses the cause of the problem, such as loss of muscle tone, but all Botox will do is mask the symptoms.”
2. Your facial muscles like doing their own thing: “Facial muscles respond to exercise just like any other muscle, only they’re involuntary. They do what they want, when they want. Anything you feel or think registers on your face. Facial yoga teaches you to become aware of what your face is doing, because after years of scowling, thinking or frowning, small lines will have formed.”
3. It gives your face a workout: “Some lines, such as forehead or pucker lines, form because of things your face is doing habitually, such as frowning or kissing. You can get rid of these by smoothing out and relaxing the face. Other lines, like the nasal labial fold that goes from the nose to the mouth, tend to caused by tension and the dragging down of gravity. The only way to get rid of these is to strengthen the muscles in that area. Contracting the muscle alone won’t work, you’ll need to apply fingertip pressure to the area so that the muscle is pushing against something. Don’t drag or pull with your fingers, simply offer a resistance point so that the muscle has something to work against.”
4. The results are immediate: “A Botox jab smoothens the face because it effectively paralyzes the facial muscles. Relaxing your face does exaclty the same thing. As you go through the poses, you’re stimulating collagen and elastin production and increasing circulation to the facial area. This will make your face appear plumper and improve skin tone.”
5. It helps relax and rejuvenate your face: “A lot of people don’t realize this but holding in tension anywhere from below the eye socket to the neck and collarbones will drag the face and it’s muscles down. Facial yoga releases the tension, eventually lifting the face.”
6. You could even lose some wrinkles: “There are some very big muscles in our face (the zygomatic, the masseter and the mentalis) but by working them out and training them, we can actually change the way our face looks. We can help a droop become a lift, or at least be in neutral.”
7. It allows you to age gracefully: “Everyone’s looks will fade. But doing regular facial exercises can help you look your best at any age and even lose a few years. If you’re impatient and want an expressionless face, go ahead and (try) turn back time with injections or surgery.”
8. Overdo it will make you look like Arnold Schwarzenegger: “Your brow ridge will gets more prominent with age, so you don’t want to look overly built in the face. Unless you want the facial structure of Arnold Schwarzenegger that is. Doing a sequence of six to eight facial exercises for 10 minutes two to three times a week is more than enough.”
‘Kapalbhati’ Skull Shining Breath
This detoxing yoga breath brings so much circulation to the face it will literally make you shine.
How to: Sitting cross-legged on the floor, cup one hand lightly in the other and press them gently against your lower belly.
Quickly contract your lower belly, pushing a burst of air out of your lungs. Release the contraction of your hands so that the belly rebounds to suck air into your lungs. Repeat 10 times at about one exhale-inhale cycle every second or two. Do 25 to 30 cycles at first, eventually increasing this to 100.