Don’t forget to exercise your face
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
These muscles work hard but don't carry, lift or move the body. Learning to exercise and relax these muscles can take years off your look, reduce chronic headaches and bring ease to your body and mind. Though it's easy to forget about them, they're visible to everyone you meet.
I'm talking about facial muscles. So while you keep your body in shape, make sure to include your face.
Whether one is conscious of them or not, the facial muscles immediately respond to emotions and thoughts more so than other voluntary muscles in the body. Tightness is commonly held in the jaw, forehead and the area surrounding the eyes.
"If you're stressed, worried, tired or just spaced out, your face can lock into a holding pattern," Ann Todhunter Brode, renowned body therapist and author, writes in The Huffington Post. "Even when you notice the frown, scowl or pout and let it go, the minute your awareness shifts, it'll be back again."
She recommends building awareness of what your face is doing by feeling it from the inside — not looking in the mirror. Think about things that might trigger tension such as finances or relationships and notice what your face tends to do.
First, exaggerate the tension. Then, to let it go, "slowly and intentionally move the muscles of your face in as many ways possible."
Tension in the face is linked to chronic headaches. A clenched jaw and tension in other facial muscles tighten the neck and constrict the blood vessels that oxygenate the face and head. The result is frequently intense jaw pain or headaches.
This becomes a vicious cycle — the face cringes from the pain while continuing to feed it.
Reducing facial tension can also improve your mental outlook. Furrowing the brow sends messages to the brain that you are upset, says Alex Korb, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at UCLA in Psychology Today. He cites several studies in which people were asked to furrow their brows, which generated increased negativity.
"The facial expression of a furrowed brow is a large part of what it means to feel, and create, negative emotions. When you start to feel anxious or stressed or angry, notice if your brow is furrowed," Korb recommends. "Try relaxing your forehead, and it will help diminish the feeling."
Engaging in regular and conscious exercises to relax the face aids in developing awareness and gaining more control over what your face is doing without you knowing. Along with the internal benefits noted above, such exercises may even help reduce wrinkles caused by habitual holding patterns in the face.
The regular practice of facial yoga to lift, firm and tone the face was recently touted as an alternative to surgery, Botox and expensive facial creams in top women's magazine Marie Claire. In order to see visible improvement after about two weeks, yoga face expert Danielle Collins recommended doing facial exercises for 20 minutes six times per week. Yet less visible and equally important changes should be felt almost immediately.
Like any other exercise program, consistent discipline is required. This translates into an excellent opportunity for fitness professionals who can fill this need for clients by incorporating exercises like those that follow in currently-existing routines or adding classes specifically dedicated to facial yoga.
Here is sampling of five facial massage and yoga moves to try:
1. Roaring lion is a classic posture that relieves constriction in the throat and face, stimulates the eyes and improves circulation among other benefits. After taking a deep inhale, exhale simultaneously opening the mouth wide, sticking out the tongue, pronouncing “Hahhhhh” while widely opening and rolling your eyes upward.
2. Palming helps relax the muscles around the eyes and soothe the optic nerve. Rub the palms together vigorously until you create heat between them, then place over the eyes. Repeat with eyes closed and opened.
3. Face scrunches tone the face and release overall facial tension. To begin, shut your eyes then purse your lips and tighten all the facial muscles you can. Then, breathe deeply and relax them several times. When you soften the muscles, you release held tension along with the tightness you just created.
4. Clenched smile is the counter-stretch to face scrunches. It increases circulation and relieves stress and tension.Grit your teeth and open your lips as wide as they will go. Feel your lips, cheeks, chin and neck stretch to their limit. Hold and release, then repeat.
5. Stimulating the stomach 6 (st6) acupressure point — appropriately named the "facial beauty point" — improves circulation and facial muscle tone according to national expert on acupressure therapy, Michael Reed Gach, Ph.D. Hold the point, located at the bottom of the cheekbone directly below the pupil, for a couple of minutes several times a day.
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