Face Forward


, Fitness

Forget Botox shots and cosmetic surgery. Minal Potnis tells you how to look young and beat stress with simple face yoga exercises

In today’s day and age, yoga is more of a lifestyle than a health choice. Almost all of us can rattle off the names of traditional yoga branches, such as Ashtanga, Hatha and even the modern hot and power – but have we heard of face yoga? Well, if you haven’t, take a cue from Hollywood actors Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston, as they have been enthusiastic proponents of this branch of yoga that, experts claim, acts on your facial muscles, tightening them and making you look younger. Closer home, Ranjana Salgaocar, the Goa based author of The Pleasure of Your
Company, gave face yoga a shot and hasn’t stopped gushing about it since. “I was always apprehensive of face-lifts and Botox shots,” she says. “But face yoga sounded like a safe alternative that could stay sagging facial muscles. Since I tried face yoga, it has become an essential part of my early-morning health regime.”

The face has a connected system of 57 muscles that need regular exercise just the way the body does. You may be wondering how the face can strike the impossible poses the body can, but simple stretching exercises can go a long way in restoring youth and vitality to our faces. The focussed movements boost circulation, bringing extra oxygen to the brain and essential nutrients to the face, leading to toned facial muscles, and healthier skin and hair

Face yoga can also be called a part of Sukshma yoga that can be practised anywhere and needs no preparation. The exercises are simple, short and subtle. “This is one of the fastest ways to relax yourself,” says actress Pallavi Joshi, a regular practitioner of Sukshma yoga. Known to show remarkable results by restoring the skin’s natural, smooth glow, this form of yoga detoxes the skin, gives it a boost of energy and promotes a sense of inner well-being. A single session can be a great rejuvenation technique, but it is only when you start following a daily routine that you spot any real difference in your face.

Facial exercises also find a mention in ancient Tibetan doctrines. Indi-pop singer Raageshwari Loomba swears by these exercises, which are more than 2,000 years old. She was at the peak of her career when she was struck by Bell’s Palsy, a condition that left her face paralysed and distorted. After initial hospital treatments, Loomba took to Tibetan yoga and meditation to resurrect her face and life.

A German study conducted on a group of 24 women found that light yoga exercises reduced stress by nearly a third. As a result of regular practice, clenched jaws and furrowed brows relax, helping to smooth away wrinkles. Yoga also reduces oxidative stress, which breaks down the skin’s elasticity and makes the face look dull. In a study in India of people practising light yoga exercises regularly, it was seen that oxidative stress levels dropped by nine per cent after just 10 days of yoga.

Art of Living’s Sri Sri Ravi Shankar often speaks about these light and subtle yoga exercises in his sermons. He says, “Whether you are heading for an interview or have a big presentation, spend a couple of minutes to refresh your face with these exercises.

His followers often practise an instant de-stress trick. First, tighten the body. Now, breathe out, squeezing the stomach in. Frown and purse the lips. Let go with a ‘haa’ sound. Try it as you read!

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