So, What's The Deal With Face Yoga? We Break Down How (And If) It Works

We all know that yoga is an ancient practice that involves contorting your body into several different poses with the goal of achieving mindfulness, relaxation, and inner peace. But as it turns out, you can perform yoga on your face, too. Face yoga, as it's called, is a trend that is gaining steam online. Dr. Amy B. Lewis, a dermatologist and certified yoga instructor told Vogue that, "Face yoga is a description for exercises performed to tone and stretch facial muscles." Instead of booking a trip to the dermatologist and electing to undergo various treatments to improve your appearance, face yoga is apparently a healthier and cheaper alternative, and all it takes is stretching your face in ways you haven't tried before.

While face yoga sounds easy (how hard it is to scrunch your face, really?), it may not be something you can effectively execute on your own without proper guidance. Shrankhla Holecek, an Ayurvedic expert, explained to Real Simple that, "[It is] a practice that focuses on the thoughtful movement of the muscles to create not only positive physical results but also to help integrate 'exercise' to build one's emotional well-being." But how exactly does it work? And is it really a viable replacement for skincare treatments Botox and fillers?

How to practice face yoga

Just like traditional yoga, face yoga involves elaborate movements to stimulate your facial muscles. Sandra Gail Frayna, a physical therapist, pointed out to HuffPost that there's so much more stress in our faces than we realize, and face yoga can help us break free from all that pent-up tension.

There is a long list of poses that you can try when doing face yoga — most poses involve contorting your face into various positions while using your hands to gently stretch the skin and muscles. One facial yoga technique supposedly helps with tightening up your cheeks. Facial yoga instructor Koko Hayashi explained to Good Housekeeping, "To remove the saggy cheeks, pull everything to the side: imagine your right teeth pulled to the left side of your mouth." You then hold this pose for around 10 seconds and then switch sides, repeating the move up to five times per day. There are many tutorials on YouTube and TikTok that you can try, and if you want to ensure that you're doing it the right way, you can also enroll in face yoga classes available in establishments like Skin Fit Gym.

Does face yoga actually work?

While some experts claim that these facial exercises can do a lot for your appearance, Dr. Ronda Farah, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School told Health that moving your facial muscles too much is the opposite of what Botox is trying to achieve. "The reason things like Botox make you look younger is because they freeze the muscles in the skin. Moving the skin and wrinkling it more is the opposite of doing Botox," she said.

Still though, there are plenty of people who tout the benefits of face yoga, and there's even research to back it up, although it's very limited. A 2018 study published in JAMA Dermatology found that practicing facial yoga every day or every other day for 30 minutes over a period of 20 weeks resulted in improvements in the fullness of participants' upper and lower cheeks. Lead study author, Dr. Murad Alam, professor and vice chair of the department of dermatology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, shared with Health, "If somebody prefers to not get a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure, this might be a good thing for them. It is also better for somebody who is patient and willing to commit to doing something on a repeated basis. It takes time, effort, and commitment, but nothing is going into your body and it's free."