In the ongoing quest to age gracefully and exude a sense of inner peace, many people are searching for natural, affordable options that will help them look and feel better.

Face yoga involves massage and exercises that stimulate the muscles, skin, and lymphatic system. This technique is designed to soften and relax your face muscles to help alleviate tension, stress, and worry. This may also help you stop making the facial expressions associated with those feelings.

Some research has found that exercises like those in face yoga may improve the appearance of your face.

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Face yoga is a natural, alternative option that may bring about lasting results. The technique uses a variety of massage and exercises to target your face, neck, and shoulders.

Research has found face yoga may be effective in improving the structural appearance of your face by strengthening the muscles of the cheeks and face. Practitioners report a younger appearance as well.

Danielle Collins, the founder of Danielle Collins’ Face Yoga, explains that a balanced face yoga routine includes exercises along with massage, relaxation, and acupressure techniques.

She also recommends focusing on your overall well-being.

“It’s important to sleep well, reduce stress, and eat healthily. Holistic health and self-care are key to radiant skin since taking care of yourself inside will be reflected in your outer shine,” she says.

You can create a routine to target a specific area of concern in your face, such as frown lines, forehead lines, or crow’s feet. Or you can focus on concerns related to issues such as stress, anxiety, or sleep.

Collins says a consistent face yoga practice will help you create positive long-term changes.

The availability of online tutorials makes face yoga accessible to many people. You can learn the technique from an instructor during individual sessions, workshops, or courses.

The benefits of face yoga may be more than skin deep. Touted as a natural facelift that enhances your overall well-being as well, practitioners say its benefits are immense. Research supporting these benefits is mounting.

Collins explains that face yoga promotes healthy, glowing skin.

She says: “Face yoga helps to lift and firm the muscles under the skin, which smooths lines and wrinkles. Massage helps to boost circulation, improve lymphatic drainage, and release tension. Acupressure techniques boost circulation and relieve stress, which can aid in preventing headaches, releasing sinuses, and enhancing the quality of your sleep.”

Collins also says that face yoga exercises can relax overactive muscles while toning weaker muscles, which helps to prevent sagging and expression lines.

A small 2018 study investigated the effectiveness of 32 facial exercises in reducing the appearance of aging in middle-aged women.

For the first 8 weeks, the participants did daily 30-minute sessions of face exercises. During the next 12 weeks, they did the sessions every other day.

Most of the women showed improvements to the fullness of their faces and were highly satisfied with the visible results. They reported significant improvement in 18 of 20 facial features. Further in-depth research is required to expand upon these findings.

Another small 2018 study examined the benefits of facial exercises in improving the mental health of older people. The participants did 30-minute facial exercise sessions twice-weekly for 12 weeks, which included yogic breathing as well as rhythmic facial movement, muscle stretching, and facial yoga. The results reported positive improvements related to mental health, facial expression, and tongue muscle power.

However, a 2014 review of the literature included nine studies about the benefits of face yoga and other facial exercises for facial rejuvenation. The researchers concluded that more research was needed and the results of all nine studies were inconclusive. They found the results were subjective since the studies were small and all relied on study authors and participants to determine the success of the interventions.

Some anecdotal reports say face yoga and massage may be effective for improving facial appearance, suggesting it enhances mindfulness and awareness as well.

As practitioners learn to strengthen or relax certain muscles, they may experience improved posture, fewer headaches, and reduced teeth grinding. Others say they find it easier to relax and fall asleep at night.

In addition to the reported reduction of the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, face yoga may promote increased lymphatic drainage leading to reduced puffiness and improved circulation. Face yoga practitioners also report it may help to:

  • control face muscles
  • promote proper nostril breathing
  • firm the neckline
  • reprogram muscle memory
  • improve symptoms of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
  • make your face more symmetrical
  • reduce the appearance of dark underage circles
  • improve confidence
  • tone face muscles
  • correct sagging
  • generate positive emotions
  • make your face less rounded

However, more research is needed to confirm these claims.

Noting the benefits of yoga asana, traditional ways of sitting during yoga, Collins explains: “Forward folds bring fresh blood and oxygen to the skin, which promotes a healthy glow. Backbending poses tone and firm the front neck muscles, while twists firm the side of the face and release neck tension.”

Slower types of yoga that involve holding poses for extended periods may give you more of an opportunity to bring this awareness to your facial muscles. This includes Hatha, Yin, or restorative yoga. You can also work on relaxing your face muscles during your mediation, pranayama, or yoga nidra practice.

Work on bringing awareness to your face during traditional yoga postures. Observe if you’re holding onto any tension or making facial expressions. Notice if you’re concentrating on relaxing your face so intently that you end up furrowing your brow or lifting your eyebrows.

Some teachers cue the Buddha smile or Mona Lisa smile to indicate a relaxed face with the corners of your mouth turned upward slightly.

Depending on your concerns and goals, Collins says you can use face yoga to target any area of your face. Tension tends to build in your forehead, brows, and jaw. If you have tightness in any of these areas, build your routine around these places. Wrinkles are common around the forehead, eyes, and mouth.

To reduce the appearance of wrinkles in certain areas, choose massages and exercises that target these places. Or you can choose exercises designed to alleviate specific concerns such as headache, insomnia, or sinus infection.

For each exercise, work to your comfort level. You may feel warmth or heat, but you shouldn’t experience pain or discomfort.

Always start with clean hands and a clean face. Use an oil, serum, or cleansing balm so your fingers can glide easily over your skin without it being too slippery. Massaging oils or serums into your skin can help the product penetrate your skin for deeper absorption.

1. Tension relief

Stimulating this acupressure point helps to reduce eye strain. You can use it to calm down during the day or before you fall asleep.

  1. Press into the inner corner of your eyes for 30 seconds.
  2. Then circle gently in one direction for 30 seconds.
  3. Repeat in the opposite direction.

2. Eye circles

This exercise boosts oxygen circulation and alleviates puffiness. Use light, featherweight touches.

  1. Place your ring fingers at the inside of your eyebrows.
  2. Gently tap your fingers toward the outside of your eyebrows.
  3. Press into your temples for a few seconds.
  4. Continue to tap above your cheekbones to the inner corner of your eyes.
  5. Continue for 30 seconds.

3. Brow smoother

This exercise relaxes the frontalis muscle, which is the large muscle at the front of your forehead. Often this muscle is overused, which can cause stiffness, rigidity, and expressions of stress.

  1. Place your fingertips at the center of your forehead, facing inwards.
  2. Gently press your fingertips into your forehead as you move your fingers toward your temples.
  3. Release your fingers.
  4. Continue for 30 seconds.

4. Neck massage

This exercise boosts lymphatic drainage and alleviates neck tension. It helps to correct sagging skin around your jaw and neck.

  1. Tilt your head back slightly.
  2. Place your fingers at the top of your neck.
  3. Apply gentle pressure as you glide your fingers down to your collarbone.
  4. Press into your collarbone for a few seconds before releasing your fingers.
  5. Continue for 30 seconds.

5. Jaw unlocker

This exercise engages the muscles in your jaw and neck.

  1. While seated, make a fist with your left hand and place it on the outside of your jaw with your thumb facing down.
  2. Turn your head toward your fist, feeling a stretch on the side of your neck.
  3. Don’t allow your hand to move.
  4. Then press your jaw toward your hand for a few seconds.
  5. Gently release.
  6. Repeat on the opposite side.

6. Lion’s breath

Also known as Lion’s pose, this is a yogic breathing exercise that reduces stress and relaxes your face muscles.

  1. From a seated position, lean forward to brace your hands on your knees or the floor.
  2. Inhale deeply through your nose.
  3. Open your mouth wide, stick out your tongue, and stretch your tongue toward your chin.
  4. Forcibly exhale your breath across the base of your tongue while making a “ha” sound.
  5. Relax and breathe normally.
  6. Repeat up to 7 times.
  7. Breathe deeply for 1 to 3 minutes.

7. Face tapping

Tapping promotes relaxation and boosts circulation.

  1. Start at your forehead and use your fingertips to rhythmically tap your skin.
  2. Continue all along your face toward your jaw.
  3. Next, tap the front of your neck and across your shoulders.
  4. Then move up along the back of your neck to your head.
  5. Finally, rub your palms together to generate heat.
  6. Cup your hands over your face and breathe deeply for several breaths.

Face yoga is a wonderful self-care technique that may improve your appearance by softening, stretching, and strengthening your face muscles. This outer transformation is often accompanied by feelings of serenity and confidence.

According to Collins, face yoga can help you get in tune with what you need by activating the healing power of your own hands.

She says: “I also recommend using positive affirmations as part of face yoga, which helps us to feel grateful for our faces and skin while cultivating self-love. Engaging in this nourishing practice helps you to feel calmer and happier.”

Dedicate some time each day for face yoga since Collins points out: “Regular daily practice is what gives best results.” Taking time for yourself each day can be a gentle reminder to tune in to your needs and how you’re feeling.