You know that doing yoga can be good for you. The combination of poses, stretches, and meditative breathing all work together to ease muscle and joint pain, improve posture, reduce stress, increase circulation, and help you to feel more healthy and alive.
But what you may not have heard about is “facial yoga.” Yes, it’s a real thing! You can actually do yoga-type exercises and poses for your face that may help rejuvenate your skin and create a more youthful appearance.
Does it work? At this point, we can’t be sure. Some studies show that it actually does produce visible results. Others, not so much. Scientists have concluded that we need more research to be sure.
In the meantime, might it work for you?
What is Facial Yoga?
Facial yoga is a type of facial exercise system that promises to help firm and tone, counteracting wrinkles and fine lines and delaying the appearance of aging.
Ms. Seema Sondhi, founder of “The Yoga Studio,” told NDTV Food that there are about 52 muscles in the face, and exercising them helps relieve tension and strain. Annelise Hagen, author of The Yoga Face: Eliminate Wrinkles with the Ultimate Natural Facelift, says that relaxing the muscles where we usually hold tension, such as in the jaw, brow, and forehead, can “counteract the wrinkle-causing grimacing we do on a daily basis.”
Face yoga expert Danielle Collins told Marie Claire that the exercises help to work out all layers of the skin, increasing blood circulation and creating a clear, more healthy complexion. The key is to see it as part of your regular exercise routine, and to stick with it.
“As a general rule,” she said, “you will start to see more of a long term improvement in your face and neck after two weeks. After 2-4 months, you will notice that you have less fine lines and less tension and people will notice you look healthier and more energized.”
Is all this really possible with just a few minutes of exercise? What does the science say?
Evidence that Facial Yoga Might Work
We don’t have a ton of research on this anti-aging technique, but there are some out there.
In a 2013 study, for example, researchers split 18 participants into two groups: 9 underwent daily training in facial exercises for 7 weeks, and 9 didn’t do the exercises. Researchers took before and after pictures of five facial areas: forehead, nasolabial folds, area above the upper lip, jaw line, and area under the chin. They then evaluated the pictures, and the participants themselves also compared the photos.
The only significant difference between the two groups was that the exercise group showed improvement in the upper lip area. A panel reviewing the after photos also chose those belonging to the exercise group as the younger-looking photos. The researchers concluded that more studies were needed.
In 2014, researchers reviewed 9 studies on facial exercises for facial rejuvenation. They found that positive outcomes were achieved in all nine studies, but noted that none of the studies used a control group, and that most of the assessments were “purely subjective.” They concluded that more trials were needed.
A later 2016 study tested facial exercises in 16 women aged 35-58 for eight weeks. They found that all measured regions of the skin became firmer and that elasticity was also improved.
So we have some evidence that it might help. That may be enough to inspire you to try it. Plus, we think you’ll agree-it kind of feels good!
5 Facial Yoga Exercises to Try
It’s easy and it doesn’t take long. Try the following sample facial yoga exercises for at least four weeks and see if they help improve your appearance. You may want to take before and after photos to prove the effects to yourself.
1. Blinking eye exercise.
We all want to get rid of those pesky fine lines around the eyes. Try this one: make your eyes as wide as you can, hold for 5 seconds, and then squeeze your eyes tightly shut and hold for about 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times, relax, and then go through the exercise again for a total of 3-4 minutes. This exercise is also good for smoothing out the forehead.
2. Mouth exercise.
To work the muscles around your mouth, first, smile as wide as you can, pulling your lips way back into your cheeks. Hold for 5 seconds. Then push your lips forward into a kissing pose (almost a fish face pose) and hold. Repeat about 25 times.
3. Lion face.
Inhale through your nose, squeeze your fists shut tight, and tighten all your facial muscles as much as you can. Imagine you’re bracing for a big explosion. Hold for 5 seconds, then exhale through the mouth and stick your tongue out as far as you possibly can. While holding that pose, widen your eyes and your hands, as if you’re really surprised. Hold for 5 seconds, and then repeat the entire exercise about 3-5 times.
4. The face-lift.
Place your palms on your temples, then push up and back, lifting both sides of the face. At the same time, open your mouth wide in an “O” shape and drop the jaw. You’re trying to make your face as long as you can. Hold for five seconds and release, then repeat about 3-5 more times. The exercise is meant to help smooth the sides of the face and fade the nasolabial folds.
5. The V.
Press your middle fingers on the inside of your eyebrows. Then press your index fingers on the outer corners of your eyebrows. While keeping pressure on these two areas, look up at the ceiling and squint your eyes, raising the lower lids. Relax and repeat 5-10 more times. When you’re done, squeeze your eyes shut and hold for 10 seconds before releasing. This exercise is meant to help perk up droopy eyelids and puffy eyes.
Have you tried facial yoga?
“Facial Yoga? Yes, These 7 Ridiculously Simple Exercises Will Slim Your Face and Wipe Out Wrinkles,” NDTV Food, June 9, 2016, http://food.ndtv.com/health/facial-yoga-yes-these-7-ridiculously-simple-exercises-will-slim-your-face-and-wipe-out-wrinkles-1417107.
“Face yoga is here and this is what you need to know,” Marie Claire, August 1, 2017, http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/beauty/how-to/5-anti-ageing-facial-exercises-you-can-try-at-home-94678.
De Vos MC, et al., “Facial exercises for facial rejuvenation: a control group study,” Folia Phoniatr Logop, 2013; 65(3):117-22, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24296342.
John Van Borsel, et al., “The Effectiveness of Facial Exercises for Facial Rejuvenation: A Systematic Review,” Aesthetic Surgery Journal 2014; 34(1):22-27.
Kim K, et al., “Effects of Kyunghee Facial Resistance Program (KFRP) on mechanical and elastic properties of skin,” J Dermatolog Treat.,2016; 27(2):191-6, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26212214.