Looking for a natural alternative to Botox? Doing 20 minutes of face yoga a day can help to firm sagging skin and ease wrinkles, says Margaret Jennings.
NOTICING a few more fine lines and wrinkles after the festive wickedness? And who is that pasty-faced person with the sagging jawline, staring back at you in the mirror?
As we age, the impact of daily living takes its toll quicker on our bodies. But although we hear plenty about stretching our limbs and stepping it out, we overlook the fact that our face and neck can benefit from exercise too — considering they have 57 muscles.
As those tiny muscles become stronger through exercise, they are lifted and firmed and the skin attached to them is also tautened, so that lines and wrinkles get reduced and your complexion gets a healthy glow. All you have to do is spend 20 minutes a day — two bouts of 10 minutes — six days a week, to get this natural ‘face lift’.
You can practice face yoga at any stage of life, according to one of its leading teachers, British-based Danielle Collins. “People often say to me ‘isn’t it too late for me?’ and my answer is always, ‘absolutely not!’ Face yoga works with strengthening and relaxing the muscles under the skin to lift and tone the face and this can work for all ages. My oldest client is actually aged 95.”
One of the benefits is it gives a natural boost to our ageing skin. “We tend to naturally lose the collagen and elastin in our faces — the plumping agents — by about 1% per year as we age. We can help to increase this collagen through daily massage — this aspect of face yoga is essential to help the skin look healthier and fresher,” she says.
We have all heard the phrase that a thousand frowns can make a wrinkle. So it makes sense that if we learn to relax our face, we can free up tension and help soften and prevent those deep-set lines.
The high-profile trainer says there are five aspects to her programme:
Face exercise, to tone the muscles.
Face massage, to increase circulation, remove toxins, and make skin tone healthier and more youthful.
Acupressure, to increase subtle energy and reduce tension.
Relaxation, to prevent wrinkles caused by stress, squinting, or grimacing.
Wellbeing, to allow what happens on the inside to radiate on the outside.
It can be done anywhere, and only takes 10 minutes twice a day, though of course it demands motivation and dedication.
“The key to face yoga is to practice it regularly to really see a long-lasting difference,” says Danielle. “Generally you see improvement in your face and neck after two weeks. After two to four months you will notice you have less fine lines and less tension and within six to nine months people say they look and feel many years younger and relaxed.”
Face yoga is a natural, non-invasive alternative to surgery or Botox, and is safer than having operations or using chemicals. This may be one reason why Danielle has had many enquiries from older Irish people about her programme, including from men who exercise their bodies and “don’t want to stop at the neck”.
The following are the three most popular exercises from her programme:
1. The ‘V’: To reduce lines and wrinkles around the eyes and make the eyes more open and energized.
Put both your middle fingers together between your eyebrows then apply pressure to the outer corners of your eyes with your index fingers. Look up and start to move the lower eyelids upwards, making a strong squint. Relax and repeat six more times. To finish, squeeze your eyes shut for 10 seconds then relax.
2. Smile Smoother: To reduce lines around the mouth and lift and firm cheeks and jaw.
Hide your teeth with your lips and make an ‘O’ shape with the mouth. Then, smile as wide as you can and keep hiding the teeth. Repeat six times. Next, hold the smile shape and place one index finger on the chin. Start to move your jaw up and down as you tilt your head back. Relax and repeat twice.
3. Giraffe: To tone and lift the neck area.
Looking straight ahead place your finger tips on the top of your neck and lightly stroke the skin down as you tilt your head back. Bring your head back down and repeat twice more. Jut your lower lip out as far as possible, place your fingers on your collarbone and point your chin upwards, pulling the corners of your mouth down. Hold for four deep breaths.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved