Face Yoga

Online classes on Tuesdays 9-9.25

Skin is a living tissue that we can keep healthy and younger looking by looking after it – by eating well, avoiding smoke and too much alcohol, drinking enough water, moisturising regularly, avoiding too much sun and finally by exercising.

The face is no difference to the rest of the body: it needs exercise to maintain healthy looking skin and functioning muscles. There are about 50 muscles in our face and neck, 20 of which are involved in our day-to-day facial expressions. There are also numerous cranial nerves which enervate the facial muscles and the skin.

Wrinkles are often caused by habitual facial expression, be it around the forehead, eyes or mouth. Exercising our face can help to release tense muscles and mobilise others. Face exercise also improves circulation and lymphatic flow, bringing nutrients to the face and removing toxins. Exercise and gentle self massage also encourages the formation of collagen and elastin both of which keeps our skin plump and youthful.

But there is more to exercising our face than just healthy glowing skin. Face Yoga is ultimately a mindful Yoga practice and a lovely way to reduce stress and tension. The muscles of the face are strongly involved in the stress response. For example, our eyes widen when we are scared or surprised, we grit our teeth or grimace when we are stressed, we smile when we have a fond memory…. And these facial expressions feed back to our brain, signalling whether we should feel happy and joyful or fearful and worried. So when we want to let go of tension, relaxing the muscles of the face are just as important as relaxing the muscles of the body. Some Face Yoga practices are also designed to help us stimulate the vagus nerve, an important muscle that is linked to a more moderated stress response and to emotional health. For more information, click on this link.

We also communicate with others with our face even when we don’t use words. We can choose to smile or glare at someone. We also unknowingly often share our deepest feelings, emotions and thought processes through facial expressions. Our face expresses our truth. Our face helps us to relate to others – inviting others to participate in our lives or pushing them away from us.

Finally, there may be some other beneficial side effects from Face Yoga: People have reported that face exercise helped them to reduce headaches caused by tension. Exercises that target tension in the jaw and TMJ may reduce tooth grinding (bruxism), improve tinnitus and, according to a medical study, even reduce chronic pelvic pain. Face exercises that include a workout of the tongue muscles have been shown to improve diction, lessen snoring and possibly even help with sleep apnoea. So it’s official: Sticking out your tongue is good for you (unless you prefer yodeling which apparently has the same beneficial effect)! Incidentally, one of the muscles of the tongue is enervated by the vagus nerve, a nerve that is related to the parasympathetic nervous system.

Have I convinced you that Face Yoga is a worthwhile workout? In that case I hope to see you in the online class. I can’t promise that my class will solve the above problems but I can promise a relaxing, fun class starting with a gentle movement warm up to release tension and improve lymphatic flow followed by facial movements and self massage.

Online classes on Tuesday mornings from 9-9.25.

Kat holds a diploma in Face Yoga: “I have been interested in Face Yoga since undergoing chemotherapy. The night after my chemotherapy treatment, pumped up with steroids, I would listen to a Feldenkrais class recording that focused on releasing jaw tension. This helped me to fall – and stay – asleep. This seemed like a miracle. Ask anyone who has ever gone through chemotherapy where they had to take steroids: those steroids usually mean at least one sleepless night! And yet I would sleep like a baby after my jaw release class. It also seemed to minimise some of the other side effects, including the nausea. I subsequently trained in Face Yoga and investigated other modalities around the face. My classes include insights from Emotional Body (which uses facial and postural work to link to emotions), Feldenkrais and Body Mind Centering. I think face yoga is particularly important nowadays as wearing masks can limit our facial expressions. So lets chew, frown, grin and make funny faces together!”