A Yen for Facial Yoga

23rd February 2018

A free, natural and easy way to firmer, smoother, glowing skin. What’s not to like? asks Lisa Botwright…

“When we go to the gym, we work out in order to make our bodies toned,” Bushey-based facial yoga therapist Jags Toor tells me. “But there are 43 muscles in the face that need to be firmed up too.”

Jags is teaching me a set of exercises that she promises will ease tension, reduce puffiness, and – most appealingly – tone up my saggy forty-something jawline that’s sinking faster than a glass of wine on a Friday night.

If facial yoga seems a little woo-woo, then bear in mind it’s born out by science. A report from Northwestern University claims that ‘facial exercises may improve appearance and reduce some visible signs of ageing.’ The dermatologists involved found that the benefits come from enlarging and strengthening the facial muscles, ‘so the face becomes more firmer overall, which can possibly slow or correct the appearance of volume loss in the face.’

The women in the study attended facial exercise sessions with a trained instructor, and then performed them at home for 30 minutes every day for eight weeks. Two groups of doctors studied before and after photos, and guessed at lower chronological ages for the post-exercise group. Significantly, the women themselves were ‘highly satisfied’ with the outcomes.

Lead author Dr Murad Alam describes facial yoga as ‘non-invasive, non-toxic, at-home exercises that anyone can perform.’ In other words, why not? Especially since the exercises also increase the blood circulation, which allows more oxygen and more nourishment to reach the cells of the skin, prompting increased collagen production – the holy grail of better looking skin.

The science is persuasive, but facial yoga is fun too. My workout with Jags prompts lots of giggling as we make ridiculous faces at one another, especially the one that involves blowing our cheeks out ‘puffer fish-style’.

Jags says she’ll sometimes do her exercises in public, and if you can withstand a few strange looks, they’re perfect for those idle moments, such as when you’re sitting in traffic. The best way though, according to this beauty expert, is to get into the habit of making the exercises part of our evening routine, then we can use our night cream for the stages when we’re touching our face. (See box, right.)

Facial massage and facial yoga are linked as they’re both ways to give ourselves a ‘free’ and natural glow. Jags is such a proponent of wholesome health that she makes her own beauty ingredients using delicious concoctions of bespoke-blended essential oils and organic kitchen ingredients – refining her own recipes ever since qualifying as a facialist. I’d approached her for advice about the post-Christmas puffiness under my eyes, and she explains the importance of lymphatic drainage massage – showing me how to do it myself with a mix of firm stroking and pushing against key pressure points. This, apparently, helps the body to rid itself of toxins. (Jags, by the way, is the picture of gleaming health, and looks about twenty, even though I know this isn’t biologically possible when she tells me the age of her son.)

Aromatherapist Valerie, originator of Sanatio Naturalis, a company that specialises in producing pure essential oils, confirms the importance of facial exercise and massage. A passionate advocate, she recommends mixing two drops of essential oil (for my mature skin, she tells me to use Sweet Orange oil – a rich source of vitamin C – and ‘balancing’ Geranium oil) to 15ml of good quality carrier oil, such as jojoba. We should then apply a small amount of the blend to palms, massaging gently into the face, beginning from the centre of the brow and using upward, outward strokes, then moving down to the area below the eyes and cheeks, repeating gently. The next stage is massaging outwards and upwards from the chin, then finally, to our necks. “Start from the centre, moving out and upwards and around to the back of the neck, which is often a neglected area that holds a lot of tension,” she explains.

I’ve been doing my exercises daily, and massaging regularly, and I’m pleased to say I recently had a lovely compliment about my skin. But considering my Christmas diet consisted mostly of cheese and prosecco, while January has been much more about veg and herbal tea, who’s to tell what the influencing factor is?… However, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam and you see a strange woman puffing out her cheeks… it might well be me.

Jag’s Facial Yoga Routine

Forehead tightener:
Open your eyes wide and pull your eyebrows away from each other while frowning, creating tension between the two. This exercise reduces lines between eyebrows.

Smooth Brow:
Place your fingers in the centre of your forehead and sweep outwards. This is great for circulation, to boost collagen and elastin and helps free up tension that can cause deep set lines.

Circle the eyes:
Place your index finger at the beginning of your eyebrows and start to gently tap around your eyes. Then repeat in opposite direction. This is great for reducing eye wrinkles, boosting collagen and relaxing the muscles.

Puffer Fish:
Puff out your cheeks as much as you can. Put your fingers on your lips for 5 seconds and release. Repeat 5 times. Puff out your cheeks again and now gently tap your cheeks with your hands. Continue for 30 seconds. This exercise helps in lifting and firming the cheek muscles and increasing blood circulation.

Jaw Toner:
Cover your teeth with your lips and make an O, count to 5, then smile while covering your teeth and count to 5 again. Repeat 10 times. This tightens the jawline.

For more about facial therapist Jags, visit boon-beauty.com; for more about Valerie’s oils, visit sanationaturalis.com

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