Here’s something fun to try in your spare time – Yoga Facelift Exercises! I don’t know about you, but sometimes we feel like we are chasing the clock. There doesn’t seem to be enough time and money to do all the things we need and want to do. So here’s a money saving tip! Save your money and prepare for the future and try these Yoga Facelift exercises.
Yoga keeps the body and the mind young, but can it maintain and even restore youth to the face as well? Hearing her students complain about creeping wrinkles and sagging skin inspired New York City yoga expert and instructor Annelise Hagen to develop a class with poses that target facial aging. The results were so positive she wrote a book called The Yoga Face: Eliminate Wrinkles with the Ultimate Natural Facelift. This may sound like an out-of-the-ordinary yoga practice, but a relaxing facial workout can slow, even reverse, some of the effects of aging, says Hagen. She believes that regularly practicing yoga strengthens and tones even the muscles in the face. Why use Botox, she asks, when you can erase years naturally — not to mention for free?
Hagen told me that “facial yoga” (her term) involves not just the poses but also breathing exercises and mild inversion — but not headstands. Breathing exercises and inversions are relaxing, lower the heart rate, increase blood flow to the head and act as antidotes to stress. The inversions she recommends are simple ones, including Forward Bends, either from the waist or while sitting on the floor, and the classic Downward-facing Dog pose (bend from the waist making a V position, hands and feet on the floor with your arms and legs straight). Hold each pose for 10 to 30 seconds. Experienced yoga students should feel free to move on to more advanced inversion poses, including the Supported Shoulder Stand and Plow, which are also good for toning the face.
BREATHE AWAY THE YEARS
Hagen recommends two breathing exercises to help oxygenate and relax the body and face. The first one is Alternate Nostril Breathing. Block your right nostril with your thumb, breathe through the left to a count of four… block left nostril with the ring finger and exhale through the right to a count of eight. Pause, switch sides and repeat, either eight or 16 times, on alternate sides.
The second breathing exercise she recommends is Skull Brightener Breath, a quick and intense cleansing breath that pumps the diaphragm muscles, stimulates the lungs, releases toxins and brings freshly oxygenized blood into the face. For this, start with a focus on your exhalation. Expel your breath vigorously through your nose, pumping your diaphragm as you exhale, allowing the in-breath to follow the out-breath automatically, which forces release of air trapped in the respiratory tract. Do this about 45 times, followed by Breath Retention exercise. After exhaling a last time, draw your pelvic floor muscles in and up, then pull your navel in, toward the spine. Consciously “lock” the muscle (this is called a bandha). Now take a short, quick breath through your nose to the upper chamber of your chest and hold it, tucking your chin toward your sternum while keeping the back of your neck long. Hold the breath for as long as you can comfortably do so, then lift your chin, release the lower abdominal/pelvic muscular lock, and exhale slowly. Savor your next inhalation, and return to calming regular breath. These exercises send vital energy to your face and head, bringing a rosy glow and more efficient circulation to your facial skin.
FACIAL POSES RELAX AND REJUVENATE
Hagen also teaches yoga poses that target the most common trouble spots — the crease between the brows (furrows), crow’s feet (eye lines), fine lines around the mouth, the nose-to-mouth fold (nasolabial folds) and sagging jaw lines and neck. Hagen says it takes about two weeks of practice to master the poses, and after that you’ll need just five or so minutes to complete the cycle. Or you can do them intermittently throughout the day if you prefer. Prepare to laugh, she says — some of these look downright silly, at least when you start.
- The first pose, the Lion Face, targets laugh lines around the mouth. Clench hands and tense your entire body, including your rear-end and face, squeezing hard as you inhale through your nose… then open your eyes, hands and mouth wide, stick out your tongue and forcefully exhale saying “HAAAA.” Do three times — on the last one, to attain complete jaw relaxation, hold your tongue out for 60 seconds with your eyes opened as wide as possible.
- Next is the Satchmo pose, so called because it employs the same small muscles inside the cheeks (the buccinators) that would be used to blow a trumpet. This is an anti-jowls exercise. Inhale through your nose and puff the air from one cheek to the other until you run out of breath… as you exhale blow out imaginary smoke rings. Repeat three times.
- Kiss the Ceiling helps firm the jaw line and neck. Bring your chin up toward the ceiling, reaching and stretching fully as if you are trying to kiss the ceiling… repeat this motion three times, once looking straight up… then looking to the left… then to the right. Repeat the cycle three times.
The advanced version of this exercise is called Baby Bird and Hagen calls it a “real workout for the cheeks and jaw.” When you tilt your chin up, push the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, then smile and swallow, keeping your tongue in that position. Keep a glass of water handy — this exercise will dry your throat, she says.
These exercises are effective and easy to do. Hagen’s only caution is that while doing them, especially at first, you are likely to also scrunch other areas of your face. More wrinkling is definitely not what you want — to avoid that, do the exercises in front of a mirror, watching to see which muscles you squeeze and wrinkle up. Lightly press your hand and/or fingers on any involuntary wrinkling to smooth it all away.
Annelise Hagen, New York City yoga expert and author of The Yoga Face: Eliminate Wrinkles with the Ultimate Natural Facelift (Avery).