Wednesday, 21 Nov 2018

Beauty Tips For Face. The Yoga Face

Imagine you are in a busy metropolitan center at rush hour. Everywhere you look, you see athletic bodies, dressed in designer suits and body-hugging oufits. But look above the neckline. Do these fit physiques sport equally firm faces? What you may see instead are wrinkles and bags: the indelible marks of stress and lack of exercise misshaping the canvas of the face.

The Yoga Face operates on a simple principle: The muscles of the face are no different from the muscles in the rest of your body. If you don’t exercise the muscles below the neck, they become weak and flabby; the same goes for the muscles of the face. The Yoga Face is a set of exercises and stretches that provides these all-important muscles the same youthful tightening and toning that going to the gym offers below the neck.

When a muscle “works,” it becomes firmer. When a muscle has something to “work against” (i.e., resistance), it becomes stronger. A sedentary muscle will gain fat and lose tone, and in the face, this will manifest itself as sagging and drooping. While the facial muscles are smaller, they are still muscles, like any other in your body. They need to lift, expand, and contract, in order to stay healthy, fit, and beautiful. Like the other muscles of the body, they need to receive lots of fresh, life-giving oxygen. And like any other muscle, they can be trained.

I have been teaching yoga for eight years in some of the top fitness clubs and yoga studios in New York City. Over the years, I gradually became aware of something interesting—and disconcerting—in my classes. My student yogis flowed through intricate sequences with ease. Following my cues, they breathed in perfect unison with their actions. They performed complex asanas (yoga poses) with steadiness and grace. The rooms were filled with youthful and vibrant practitioners.

Beauty Tips For Face. The Yoga Face - photo 1

Yoga makes your face beautiful and young

Yet when I looked at many of their faces, I could see the telltale signs of strain and stress: the young woman with the dancer’s physique contorted her face into a scowl; the toned fellow across the room furrowed his brow in concentration. Meanwhile, another woman held a pose with clenched jaw and pursed lips. It was almost as if they were taking all the nervous energy the poses were releasing from their bodies and pouring it into their faces. I saw that I had been paying much more attention to the health of the body below the neck than above it. I began telling people to relax their faces, to exhale on a sigh, or to unclench their jaws, and I saw that as they released their faces, they derived more benefit from the poses, and also began to look more youthful!

I began to wonder if the same exercise principles that worked for the body could also work for the face—with some modification. While weights obviously were not practical, why couldn’t facial muscles derive the benefits of exercise: performing repetitive motion to burn off fat; flushing the cells, muscles, and tissues with oxygenated blood; and countering habitual emotional tendencies that lead to gripping and clenching, and by extension, wrinkles?

I started experimenting with yoga postures, developing a class that would specifically address anti-aging for the face. I wanted to help transform the faces of my students the way I had seen their bodies transform. In addition, I began an in-depth study of facial anatomy, and also began a regime of exercise for my own facial muscles.

At a yoga studio I was affiliated with, I developed a workshop that focused on yoga poses that were known to be anti-aging and calming. I blended the poses yogis call “restorative” with some facial toning work I had learned in my vocal training as an actress. These exercises worked with jaw tension and training the lips, tongue, and teeth for expression. They were effective, improving skin and muscle tone in the face, and performing them often left me with a bit of a lactic acid “burn” like running or lifting weights did in my other body parts. As I practiced them along with the yoga poses, I got excited by the rapid diminishing of signs of aging on my face.

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Forget about skin aging

While experimenting with this work, I remembered other vocal exercises I had learned when I was in my twenties and working as a stage actress. Some of these were specifically designed to work with breathing capacity, increasing oxygen flow in and out of the body. These exercises were energizing, and you could see the benefits on the surface of the skin immediately. Many of the vocal exercises were designed to release tension from the jaw and the face.

I realized as I performed my facial “gymnastics” that perhaps fifty percent of the appearance of aging in the face was a result of tension. In both myself and others I observed, the long-term repeated facial patterns of tension embedded on the face in the form of wrinkles, and in the moment they showed up as unflattering and involuntary scowls, frowns, and creases. After this realization, the evidence grew—or maybe I had just become more aware of something that had been going on for a long time—and I would find myself suddenly reflected in a shop window, scowling when I was perfectly happy, or I’d see myself in the reflection of a subway door, frowning in a moment of concentration. But just a few moments of facial exercises released the mask of worry, fear, and anger. By practicing conscious relaxation, in combination with the facial exercises, I had found a one-two punch to counter the signs of facial aging.

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Facial “gymnastics”

This program has had a profound effect on my self-confidence and sense of hope for the future of my skin. In my twenties, I had wantonly played in the sun, sans hat or sunscreen. I had consumed caffeine and sugar liberally. I had burned the midnight oil—all without much thought to the condition of my skin. But the clock began to catch up. Many skin experts will confirm this: the damage we create from sun exposure, poor diet, and lack of exercise up into our twenties usually doesn’t show up on the skin as visible signs until our thirties. When this problem is coupled with the loss of collagen and elastin (the proteins that help our connective tissues stay firm and resilient) that occurs as we age, it’s no wonder many people wake up in their thirties to discover skin damage they hadn’t known was there. On my thirty-third birthday, I found a worry line between my brows that didn’t go away, even when I consciously relaxed. I also noticed discolorations and patches on my skin—what I thought were sunspots but may also have been signs of nutritional imbalance. Still, I persisted in blithely ignoring the warning signs most of the time. I thought there was no remedy for past damage done—as so many tomes on skin proclaim—only to become despondent when confronted with the ugly truth in a particularly candid snapshot. As I studied the photo, I thought, “Who is this person who bears only a fleeting resemblance to how I have pictured myself? That isn’t my elderly aunt—that’s me! Why don’t the bags under my eyes know that I am a yoga teacher?” Meanwhile, as I was teaching my students the principles of acceptance and detachment, some of my teaching peers were getting facial work done. These people were preaching inner contentment, that the true source of happiness lies within. But off the record, they admitted to me they felt pressure to look youthful— that, in fact, their livelihoods depended on it. I knew of one yoga teacher who received regular lip injections! But I was concerned a measure such as that could possibly reduce my facial mobility—something I knew I didn’t want to lose!

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Yoga with pleasure

I was pursuing inner peace and calm but still debating a nip here and a tuck there. One of my colleagues, having just turned forty (and none too thrilled about it), got an eyelift. I was curious to see the results. After a few weeks of absence, she returned to work. Three thousand dollars later, her eyes did look a little smoother. But her palpably low self-esteem offset any positive effects of the surgery. She still looked depressed and critical of herself. And a year later, I saw that her anxiety had brought many of the lines she’d attempted to lift right back to her skin. So it’s true, I mused to myself. If you don’t change the behavior that led to the wrinkles to begin with, the habitual facial expressions that you unconsciously perform hundred of times throughout the day will etch themselves permanently. It’s like people who get surgery to lose weight yet don’t change their eating habits: it’s the behavior, not the symptom, that causes the problem and that must be corrected!

I continued practicing my facial program at home in front of the mirror and on the yoga mat, as well as in classes with more and more of my yoga students. I thought to myself that I would try, as an experiment, whatever I could with the tools I already had to transform my face naturally. If all else failed, I would consider other methods. I was hoping the natural alternative would work, as I didn’t want to defy my principles or dent my wallet. It was difficult at first, as training my facial muscles to isolate and resist gravity by using pressure from my fingertips was new and hard to master—but after a session, I would notice changes right away. The circulation traveled to my face, the glow increased, and the droops and shar-pei furrows decreased. The awareness I began to develop about my facial habits sometimes was upsetting —I never realized how much of an involuntary scowler I had become (although my mother has showed me pictures of myself as a one-year-old, resting my chin on my palm and frowning like a curmudgeon). But gradually, my facial appearance became new and improved. The techniques I was practicing were actually working!

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Love yourself

I had discovered the answer for me, my colleagues, and for all people considering getting (or who have already had) work done. From my preliminary research and efforts, I taught a well-attended onetime workshop at a Manhattan yoga studio. The response was overwhelming. My students— women and men, old and young—seemed thrilled at finding the prospect of a positive and healthy solution to the signs of facial aging. The workshop blossomed into an ongoing weekly class at the New York Health & Racquet Club.

Working with the face took practice for all of us. We were clumsy mastering the willful control of the small facial muscles that heretofore had moved only involuntarily for most of us. But with practice we quickly became adept at isolating our facial muscles and voluntarily performing facial exercises. We all obtained noticeable results within weeks. The students looked and felt more youthful, more positive, more radiant, and therefore more attractive. They reported feeling powerful instead of feeling helpless. Those who were considering getting work done started realizing that they had options. They had found a safe, natural, and effective alternative by going to the root rather than staying on the surface.

Since these initial workshops, the Yoga Face has turned into one of the most sought-after classes in the highly competitive world of New York fitness. Over the last two years, I have been honing and refining the method constantly. Now, in response to overwhelming demand, I have culled all of these teachings into this first book on the Yoga Face. It really is the ultimate natural facelift.

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Beautiful appearance with yoga face

The Yoga Face isn’t a miracle cure (we all know how well those tend to work); rather, it is a results-oriented program that is as effective as the amount of work you put into it. With the Yoga Face, you can give your face a smoother and firmer appearance, and simultaneously improve your energy and mood. I cannot promise that you won’t age, but I can assure you that if you practice these principles and exercises, you will be able to slow down the rate at which you age visibly. Along the way, you will gain some other yogic skills for destressing, detoxing, and purifying your body, mind, and spirit. You’ll feel calm and serene on the inside, which will match how you look on the outside. The only surprise you’ll encounter when catching your reflection in a busy street window or a candid snapshot will be one of delight.

To be continued…

Annelise Hagen

A VERY a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., New York

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