Face yoga seems to be the next big fitness craze taking the market by storm. You have probably seen marketing for at least one face yoga program while browsing the internet in recent months.
But what exactly is face yoga, what benefits does it provide, does it really work, and which of the many programs that you come across might be best for you?
Let’s take a deep dive and answer all of your questions about face yoga, and review some of the most popular face yoga programs that are currently available.
What is Face Yoga?
Face yoga is very much like yoga, except that it focuses on the muscles and other tissues in your face and neck, rather than on your full body.
Most programs combine massage, acupressure, and exercises that stimulate the muscles in the face, as well as the skin and lymphatic system.
Massage elements generally include light rubbing and pinching of certain areas of the face to relax muscles that might have become taught or tense. You can expect to see light ribbing around the brow line and nasal-labial area, and pinching around the jaw and neck.
There is also a variety of acupressure of “tapping” exercises, very often around the eyes, but covering the entire face. The idea is that tapping certain energy points on the body can release the flow of bodily fluids and return energy.
Finally, there are muscular exercises that generally involve pulling the face into certain positions, which are usually quite unusual. This works because every time we use our face, we also use our muscles. But we use some muscles more than others. As a result, one set of muscles will strengthen, and the counter set will weaken, and therefore become saggy and untoned. These exercises are designed to work the counter set.
Does Face Yoga Work?
Face yoga has not been well researched, so most insights about its effectiveness come from practitioners themselves. But there is a very enthusiastic community of face yogis out there that swear that the method not only leaves them looking younger, but over time can change the overall structure of their face.
The only major academic study of yoga was conducted in 2018 by Northwestern University. The program had participants commit to 30 minutes of face yoga each day for eight weeks, and then continue to practice every other day to complete a full 20 weeks on the program. Their conclusion was that participants had measurably firmer skin and fuller upper and lower cheeks. Participants also self-reported feeling happier with the appearance of their faces after completing the program.
What Are the Benefits of Face Yoga?
Most people who start doing face yoga are looking for a way to reduce the appearance of aging by minimizing wrinkles and sagging and rejuvenating the skin.
The evidence suggests that face yoga provides a lot of benefits in this area as have been linked with:
- Minimizing sagging, especially around the brows and jaw;
- Reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkled around the eyes, mouth, and on the forehead;
- Slimming the face and emphasizing angles, especially around the cheekbones and jaw line;
- Promoting symmetry of the face;
- Reducing puffiness around the eyes and the appearance of dark circles.
But the benefits of face yoga actually go beyond aesthetics, and there are a variety of health and wellbeing outcomes that you can also expect.
- You can develop greater control of your facial muscles, allowing you to produce a wider range of facial expressions (even wanted to be able to lift one eyebrow?);
- It promotes better breathing;
- You may be able to reprogram muscle memory to change facial expressions;
- There is evidence for improved mood and increased confidence;
- It can help prevent headaches;
- The practice can release sinuses;
- It may improve the quality if your sleep;
- It may improve symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder (which occurs in the jaw.
As with other types of yoga, these benefits are enhanced when the exercises are combined with controlled breathing, which also helps the body enter a semi-meditative state.
Best Face Yoga Programs
But if you want to try face yoga, where can you learn it? This isn’t something that you will find at your local yoga studio.
But the number of online courses offering face yoga has exploded in the last two years, and a simple search will find your scores of potential options.
How do you know which one is right for you?
Below is a list of our four top face yoga course options. Each has different benefits and will suit different people.
Most comprehensive and well-reviewed face yoga program.
The approach that has probably made the biggest splash in recent years is the Face Yoga Method, spearheaded by Fumiko Takatsu. She shares a personal story of realizing that she could exercise her face in the same way as her body to deal with changes that she was seeing and not loving.
This is the method that was used by Northwestern University in their study and is very well respected. There is a full range of exercises that focus on smoothing the forehead, lifting drooping eyelids, reducing crow’s feet, lifting the cheeks, plumping lips, and smoothing the neck and jawline.
The program starts with a 42-day boot camp that teaches you all of the exercises with mirror software that lets you follow along. There is then a downloadable cheat sheet and a full video library to help you stay on track on your own after the boot camp.
Most affordable face yoga program for getting started.
Karina More goes beyond just the face, and also provides posture-based exercises that affect the look and structure of your face. Her program promises to improve back hunching and open the shoulders, open the eyes and clear bags, emphasize the cheekbones, smooth out forehead wrinkles, and just generally restore facial elasticity.
She is currently offering a Face Marathon program, which is a 2-day program that builds up the list of exercises each day so that it isn’t overwhelming and shows you the kind of results that you can achieve with consistency.
Program with the shortest daily time commitment to see results.
This course is fronted by Monna, a certified cosmetologist and mother of three who was looking to apply her expertise to deal with the changes in her appearance after birthing and raising her kids.
She offers a six-week “lift and sculpt” course which requires that you commit just 15 minutes a day to complete five different poses. While that is all you have to do is 15 minutes a day, the program also includes extras for those who want to do more.
Going beyond yoga, as a cosmetologist, she also provides tips for a better skincare routine and some of her own personalized beauty tips.
Best for teacher training.
Face Yoga Expert is headed by Danielle Collins, who has been talking about face yoga for more than 15 years and tends to be one of the faces that you see when the subject comes up on TV. She has also published on the topic.
Where she stands out is that, rather than just offering 4-6 week programs that will teach you the very basics, Face Yoga Expert is offering a fully accredited teacher training program for face yogis.
The course is fully online and will probably take between 12-20 hours to complete depending on your skill level. It covers facial anatomy, the face muscles, skin structure, and lymphatic system. It then looks at techniques for warming up the muscles, and then providing definition, lifting, lymphatic drainage, and targeted exercises for different parts of the face. The course also covers how exactly to deliver a face yoga consultation.
Basic Face Yoga Exercises
You can expect all of the courses above to combine general exercises aimed at overall face regeneration, and then specific exercises to target different areas of the face. Just like in yoga, there are literally hundreds of different exercises, each designed to target different small muscle groups. So, if you want to get all the benefits of face yoga, you really do need to invest the energy in learning a comprehensive list of exercises.
But as a taster, here are some of the exercises that you might expect to encounter on these courses.
Take note. When you do any of these exercises you might feel warmth of heat on your face, but you should never feel discomfort or pain. This is usually a sign that you need to work a bit slower. Just like with your other muscle groups, they will build up strength over time.
Always wash your hands and face before starting. You might also want to use oil or serum to lubricate your face for some of these exercises.
Lion’s Breath Face Relaxation
You will want to relax your facial muscles before you get started, and one of the best ways to do this is with Lion’s Breath, a move that will be familiar to most yogis.
Simply open your mouth as wide as you can and stick your tongue out as far as you can, stretching it down towards your chin. You will want to return to this position several times.
Breath deeply a few times, and then make a big inhale. Open your mouth to the lion’s breath position and force all the air out of your body and down your tongue.
Return to deep breathing, and then repeat the lion’s breath exhale seven more times.
Warm Up & Tension Release
To continue to prepare your face for more specific exercises, you will want to warm up the muscles and release tension. One of the best ways to do this is through tapping, as it relaxes the muscles and promotes circulation.
Starting at your forehead, simply use the tips of your fingers to rhythmically tap your skin, combining the rhythm with your breath is possible.
Gradually work all the way down your face and down your neck to your collar bone. You will then want to come around the back of your neck and up to the hairline.
Smooth Your Forehead
Starting at the top of the head, there are a variety of simple exercises for smoothing the forehead.
To start, place your fingers on your forehead facing inwards and apply a little bit of pressure. Then simply drag your fingers away from your forehead and towards your temples. When you arrive, apply pressure to your temples for a few seconds, and then return and repeat the exercise.
You will want to continue to do this for about 30 seconds.
To lift the brows, you want to use your thumb and index finger to pinch along the brow line working inside out. Continue to do this for about 30 seconds.
You can then shape your fingers into hooks and use the to smooth along the brow, again from inside to out. Do this for about 30 seconds as well.
Banish Dark Circles
To help reduce puffiness and dark circles under the eyes, start my very gently placing your index finger on your upper eyelid and your middle finger on your lower eyelid. The pressure should be minimal.
Now, trace the alphabet with your eyes. You should feel your eyeballs moving lightly against your fingers. Do A-Z and then Z-A and you are done.
For your lips, place your index fingers beside your nose, extending down towards your chin and apply pressure.
You then want to continuously form your lips into a dish-like O shape, hold it for a few seconds, and relax. Repeat this for about 30 seconds.
Moving down to the jaw, start by pinching along your jawline, starting at your chin and moving out towards your ears. Do this for about 30 seconds.
Next form your index fingers into hooks and run them along the jawline, again from chin to ears. Continue for about 30 seconds.
Smooth the Neck
Whenever you are working the face, it is important not to forget the neck, as lines there draw the eye.
Tilt your head slightly back and place your fingers at the top of your neck. Apply gentle pressure as you slide your fingers down towards your collar bone. Press down on the collar bone for a few seconds before repeating the exercise.
Again, do this for about 30 seconds.
Face yoga can fairly be described as one of the latest fitness crazes, it is all over the internet right now. But just because it is trendy doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be paying attention.
There is good evidence that face yoga can have a genuine effect when it comes to reducing the appearance of wrinkles and sagging and rejuvenating the skin of the face in general. Done consistently, it can provide genuine aesthetic and wellbeing benefits.
Fortunately, this is something that you can do from the comfort of your own home as there are scores of online courses available to teach you face yoga. We’ve shared our top recommendations for the best four courses depending on what you are looking for.