Face-yoga therapist Emiko Terui shows you how to get a smoother, sculpted face in just a few minutes a day.
Facial yoga goes beyond pulling funny faces, instead think of it as a workout for your facial muscles.
Just like resistance training, it requires the muscles to contract against an external weight (in this case your hands or tongue) to help strengthen and tone. These moves can help rebuild the volume loss responsible for lax, droopy skin by lifting, firming and sculpting the muscle underneath.
Sound too good to be true? In a recent study, researchers at Northwestern University found that when a group of middle-aged women did 20 weeks of facial exercises, not only did they have both fuller cheeks and firmer skin, but they appeared younger by three years, too!
Here, Emiko Terui, remedial massage therapist at Sydney wellness studio MO+ guides us through her routine. No activewear required…
1. Activate lymph nodes and move lymphatic fluid
Your lymph nodes are located around your ears. To manually warm them up and prepare them to begin the detox process, hold your earlobes with your fingertips and move them in a circular motion — first clockwise 10 times and then anticlockwise 10 times. Do this two to three times to encourage blood circulation to deliver nutrients to your face.
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2. Release nasolabial folds
These are the lines that form from the outside corner of your nose down to the end of your lips and then from where your lips join the line to the bottom of your jaw — a.k.a. laugh lines. Hold your lips closed and exhale air into your mouth. Hold the breath for 10 counts. Do this six to 10 times to release and reverse the indent of these lines. This exercise will help to soften and retrain your facial tissue, as well as strengthen those muscles, encouraging firmness and ‘bounce back’ after you’ve used them, as opposed to leaving deeper creases.
3. Define your neck and chin
This exercise will help to stretch out neck lines and address what’s known as ‘tech neck’ (from bending your neck over your phone or computer). Again, you’re wanting to reverse any indented lines and stretch out the neck tissue. Place one hand on your chest to hold your skin in position, then tilt your head back, look upwards and push your bottom jaw forwards in a motion to move your bottom row of teeth in front of the top row of teeth. You should feel a stretching of your skin along the front of your neck. Do this six to 10 times.
4. Shape and sculpt the jawline
This move will help to release your neck muscles and shape your jaw area. Begin by tilting your head to the right side and moving your right ear to your right shoulder. Place your right hand over the head and on to the top of your left ear, then use the weight of your hand to stretch the left side of your neck. To deepen the stretch, poke your tongue out, pointing it down and to the right. Keep your shoulders straight, chest high and back upright. Try not to hunch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat six to 10 times. Then repeat the same action on the other side.
5. Fill and lift your cheeks
To promote firmness in your cheeks and to give them extra shape, open your mouth in a wide, high grin and place your tongue on your top teeth, with the tip of your tongue pointing towards your nose. Really focus on the upper parts of your cheeks, pushing the skin from inside your mouth upwards. Take this exercise one step further by lifting the corners of your mouth even wider. This movement also works to lessen pressure around the entire jaw area, which can become incredibly tense. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat six to 10 times.
6. Give your forehead a lift
This is about creating better circulation in your forehead and reducing fine lines. Lightly interlock your fingers and place both hands on your forehead. Hold your forehead in place, while simultaneously opening your eyes as far as they will go. Now try pushing downwards gently with your hands while at the same time raising your forehead muscles.
Alternate between these two movements. Hold each for 30 seconds and repeat six to 10 times. These exercises help to strengthen the muscles under the skin of your forehead, giving it a lift.
7. De-puff and brighten your eyes
To decrease the appearance of puffiness and black circles under your eyes, this exercise will also help to tone and shape your lower eyelids and the muscles underneath them. Place your index and middle fingers in a V-shape under each eye. The index fingers should sit at the outer corners of your eyes and the middle fingers at the inner corners of your eyes. Apply gentle pressure with your fingers and, using only the muscles of the bottom eyelids, draw your eyelids up while looking up. Hold for three to five seconds and repeat six to 10 times.
Just as you would in a normal yoga class, end off by closing your eyes and relaxing for a few minutes, focusing on untensing your face muscles.