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Secrets of Face Yoga

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What is Face Yoga?
The face reveals so much information about who we are as individuals.
Ancient Chinese practitioners used to diagnose and treat patients based on the lines, shapes and curves of one's face, a technique called "face reading."
 
 
What exactly is facial yoga? How does it work? 
Face yoga is a practice of stretches, poses, and facial expressions that lift, tone and sculpt the face while smoothing fine lines and wrinkles. It works by deliberately relaxing facial muscles that carry stress while exercising and toning the muscles that don't get enough movement. Breath work is another integral part of this practice, and part of why we call it "face yoga." When we breathe deeply through each pose, we encourage the release of stress, stimulate the lymphatic system, relax the nervous system, and oxygenate the cells that make up the structure and substance of the face and body. Face yoga truly has the ability to transform the face and skin. It is a practice that deepens the interconnections between mind, body, and spirit, while delivering amazing benefits for the face. 
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What are the benefits of facial yoga? 
You have over 40 major muscles in the face alone, and just like muscles of the body, when you don't use them, you lose them! The face in particular is unique in that it's the only area of the entire body where the skin and muscles are directly attached to one another. This means that where the muscles go, the skin goes too!
Face yoga serves two main functions: first is the ability to isolate and exercise muscles that have become weak from lack of use. When you build strength in your facial muscles, you'll start to see an overall lift and smoothness to the face as it volumizes and plumps the skin.
The second function of face yoga is relaxing our most stressed and tense facial muscles by performing certain stretch poses as you inhale and exhale deeply. This benefits the face because it teaches the most stressed muscles to relax which naturally releases wrinkles and facial tension. These practices are similar to what we do for the body to keep us strong and flexible, so why wouldn't we do the same for the face? 
 
Essentially, face yoga teaches you how to move the face in ways that creates healthier facial expressions that fight the effects of gravity, stress, and aging. The result is a slower and more graceful aging process without the use of special equipment, costly injections or plastic surgery. 
 
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How does Face Yoga change the skin's appearance?
Face yoga has amazing benefits for the skin as well. Because the face is the only area of the body where the skin and muscles are directly attached to one another, the skin gets a beautiful, natural lift when you practice face yoga regularly. And because face yoga movements help increase circulation to the entire face, the skin starts to take on a more hydrated and glowing complexion from the increased blood supply. Facial movement also gets our lymphatic system moving so our skin will appear less puffy and much tighter. 
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What is tech neck? 
Tech neck is a condition of the neck and head that causes pain, stiffness, and stagnation of energy and blood flow. It is analogous to carpal tunnel in the hands and wrists. It's caused by holding the head and neck in a constant position, often forward from the upper body when we sit in front of our devices: phones, computers, laptops, etc. 
From a beauty standpoint, this does a number of things that contribute to aging. First thing to note is that when you carry stress and tension in the neck and shoulders, you will inevitably see the effects of that in the face. Signs of the "tech neck effect" are pain, facial puffiness, sagging skin, wrinkles, and an asymmetrical face. Held in a forward/downward position, the front of the neck becomes short and tight while the back of the neck becomes hard and stiff. With less space for the tissue to move, you will begin to see lines across the front of the neck as the muscle begins to fold onto itself - there is essentially nowhere else for the skin to go. As the neck muscles become shorter and stiffer from lack of expansion, it will start to pull down on the rest of the face, which creates that sagging effect. In addition to that, the lack of movement restricts the ability of our circulatory and lymphatic systems to move fluids properly, leading to blockages that cause fluid retention and less oxygen to the skin. A double chin and a soft looking jawline can almost always be improved over time by correcting the position of the head to be in line with the spine again. 
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What facial yoga moves help eliminate tech neck? 
My favorite face yoga pose for eliminating tech neck is what I call "Kiss the Moon." You place your hands at the base of the front side of the neck to stabilize the platysma muscle, then you slowly bring your head back so you are gazing up to the sky. To feel the extra stretch in the front of the neck, make a soft, juicy pucker with your lips and try to "kiss the moon" about 10 times. This helps stretch and lengthen the neck, aligns our posture, relieves pain, eliminates neck lines, clears facial puffiness, reduces a double chin and shapes the jawline. 
Why is a holistic approach to wellness so important?
I remember at a young age being blown away by this simple (yet obvious) scientific truth - "your body is a collection of systems, each system is a collection of organs and your organs are a collection of cells”. The face and skin integrate with the rest of our body just as they do with our feelings and thoughts. A regular practice of face yoga, facial massage, gua sha and reflexology are all important in their own ways, but I would say that the key to making this practice fully holistic is incorporating a healthy and open mindset and becoming more conscious of how we speak to ourselves on a daily basis. This is because, like it or not, our cells are always listening to what we say, think and feel, and the vibration of those thoughts influences the behavior of our cells. And as I learned, we are only as healthy and happy as the collection of cells we are made of.
 
 How do facial practices fit into the world of wellness and beauty? 
When we sit down to eat a meal, we nourish with nutrients. When we read a book, we nourish with information. When we workout the body, we nourish with movement. These are all things we do routinely because we know the benefits and we make time for these practices because they are important in making us feel good. Facial practices like face yoga, massage and reflexology are blowing up in the beauty  and wellness world. In fact I believe it will become a very mainstream method of nourishing the face and our skin, and it all fits together because we are all these things: a mind, a body, and spirit - our face being the biggest reflection of that. 
 
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Why should one implement mindfulness into a face yoga or beauty routine?
With the mind and body as intertwined as they are, we would be only polishing half the mirror if we simply hit the gym or practiced face yoga poses but didn't bother to read, reflect or meditate. The key is to find the center of balance in all things. The right workout can improve your mindset, while the right mindset will improve your workout. The most important thing I've learned when it comes to aging gracefully is that if you want your face and wrinkles to appear relaxed, you must practice the art of relaxation in your daily life.
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What are some tips for incorporating facial yoga into your routine? 
Before you start practicing face yoga you'll want to learn how to hold some basic poses so that you don't create more tension or facial wrinkles. My advice is to sign up for the Skin Within Studio - a virtual "spa" offered through my website where I offer 5-20 minute classes in face massage, gua sha and face yoga. You learn different ways of how to hold the poses correctly, and we do the exercises together so it's really a fun way of learning. 
After you've learned some of the poses, you can start dedicating a few minutes a day to watch yourself in the mirror as you practice. 
Once you've mastered the poses, you can practice face yoga throughout your day. I have certain poses I hold while I'm brushing my teeth, taking a shower, cutting vegetables, and walking down the street. I even practice face yoga in public as some of the poses can easily be mistaken for smiling or applying chapstick. 
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Are there any risks associated with Face Yoga? 
The only risk of face yoga is that you practice the poses incorrectly, which can cause more wrinkling and signs of aging. Face yoga is a practice of creating healthier facial expressions that help us look more rested, alert and lifted. So it's very important that you learn how to use your face in ways that will show positive results 10 years down the line. 
It is possible to experience increased TMJ pain when you first get started, but this typically begins to correct itself once you learn how to release tension in the jaw. 

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