Exercises- Face Yoga

  1. Make yourself comfortable, either sitting or standing, although it is recommended you do this for the first time while sitting. 
  2. If you are sitting, you can sit in a chair or on the floor. If on a chair, make sure your feet are flat on the floor, and that your back is straight and not slouched, against the back of a chair. If you are sitting on the floor, try to sit in a butterfly position, with the soles of your feet touching, and your back straight. 

If you are standing, make sure your feet are flat on the floor, your legs are shoulder width apart, your knees are relaxed not locked, and your back is straight. Be mindful if your head is sticking out. If it is, imagine there is a string holding you from the top of your head, keeping your body aligned and straight, but relaxed.

  1. We will go through four Face Yoga exercises. You can do these alone or with a partner, or in a group, in a quiet place or even in the shower or in the car. Many of the movements are a bit silly and funny, but are very powerful for improving your stress levels.
  2. For all the exercises, inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. Do not exhale through your nose, as you will lose many of the stress release benefits that way. 

We’re going to start with a warm-up called Big Face, Little Face. 

  1. First, we are going to warm up the face and stretch the face muscles that don’t normally get too much exercise. 

Start with “Big Face.” Open your eyes and face and stretch all your face muscles — eyes, nose, cheeks, mouth, jaw — as wide as you possibly can, so that your face looks like a roaring lion. Hold this pose for 8 seconds. 

Then, do the opposite in “Little Face”, in which you close and scrunch all your face muscles — eyes, nose, cheeks, mouth, jaw — as small as you can, so that your face looks like you just bit into a very sour lemon. Hold this pose for 8 seconds. 

Repeat this 2 more times.

As you finish the third round, we will move on to the next movements. 

  1. Now that you’re warmed up, have probably yawned a few times, and may already be laughing, we will move on to what we call “The Vowels.” These are simple and fun, but very important in the Face Yoga method. 
  2. In a loud voice, we will now say the 5 vowels of the English language (A, E, I, O, U) one after another — slowly, and in an exaggerated way, so as to exercise all the face muscles. 
  3. Take a deep breath into your belly, and as you exhale, say “A!” (“eyyyyyyy”) in a loud voice while stretching your face muscles and holding the sound and face for 3 seconds, followed by “E!” (“eeeeeee”) for 3 seconds, “I!”(“aiiiiiiiiiii”) for 3 seconds, “O!” (“ohhhhhhhh”) for 3 seconds and “U!” (“youuuuuuu”) for 3 seconds.
  4. For all 5 vowels, your eyes should be extra wide open, but without wrinkling your forehead. If this is difficult to do, put your hands on your forehead, and try saying the 5 vowels this way.  
  5. Do this 3 times. 

You should feel nice and stretched in your cheeks and jaw, and your eyes should feel stretched.

For each vowel, you should feel these sensations in your face: 

  • With “A” = your jaw muscles dropping and your mouth muscles stretching horizontally, like you’re saying “hey”
  • With “E” = your cheek muscles, mouth muscles and lips stretching as wide as they can horizontally, like you’re saying “tea”
  • With “I” = your jaw muscles dropping, your mouth muscles stretching vertically, and your forehead muscles stretching upwards, like you’re saying “high”
  • With “O” = your jaw muscles dropping, your upper mouth muscles stretching forward, like you’re saying “low”
  • And with “U” = your jaw muscles and upper mouth muscles stretching forward, like you’re saying “moo”

Gently come to a close after the final round. And with that, we will move on to the next set of movements, called “Detox.”

  1. Now we add some deliberate breathing into Face Yoga. This is great to do in the morning when you want to wake yourself up or wake your face up, or at night when you want to release all the day’s tension before you sleep. You can also do it whenever you get a little stressed out.

This exercise is very effective because when we’re stressed out, we hold our breath, tighten up our bodies, and may lose focus. Detox allows you to release that stress using your face, breath, and body all at once. 

  1. Sit or stand comfortably, and make sure your feet are flat on the ground, and relaxed. Now, breathe into your belly and exhale gently through your mouth. 

Do this again. 

And for the third time, breathe in, but when you exhale, stick your tongue out as far as you can and make a loud “haaaaa” sound for 5 counts. The louder you make the sound, the more stress you release.

  1. Next, add your arms too. From a sitting position, put your hands on your shoulders. Breathe into your belly, and exhale gently. 

Do this again. 

And for the third time, breathe in, but when you exhale, stick your tongue out, and at the same time let your arms go and hang them down towards the floor, to let go of all the tension in them. 

  1. To get the most out of this activity, you will now use your whole body. 

Start in a sitting position, relaxing your face. Now breathe into your belly, and exhale gently out your mouth. On the second breath, inhale and raise both your arms to the ceiling as you breathe into your belly, and then let your arms go and hang towards the floor as you exhale.

On the third breath, stand up and raise both your arms to the ceiling as far as you can, wiggling your fingertips as you breathe into your belly, and then as you exhale, release your arms, stick your tongue out as far as you can and make the loud “haaaaa” sound for 5 full seconds. 

  1. Shake out your body. Feel the stress exit your body with your pose and laughter.

And with that, we move on to the last set of movements in Face Yoga. 

  1. The last part is called the “mini facelift.” These movements lift your face and help it to relax, and also helps your eyes stretch wide open, especially after a long day. 
  2. This is best done sitting on the edge of a chair, although standing is also okay. Make yourself comfortable, with your feet flat on the ground. Make sure your back is straight, shoulders down, and your face is completely relaxed. 
  3. Position your left arm away from you at a 45 degree angle, left fingers pointing diagonally towards the floor. 
  4. Now inhale and raise your right arm up, fingers pointing towards the sky, keeping your shoulders down. Exhale  through your mouth. Inhale again as you bend your right arm over your head and put your right hand on your left cheek, and as you exhale, slowly tilt your head into a 45 degree angle to the right, so that your left finger tips and your head form a straight line. 

Feel the stretch on the left side of your neck, shoulder, and all the way to your left fingertips. Keep holding your head with your right arm gently, and stay here for 5 counts. 

  1. Now, we will breathe in and out 3 times while keeping this position in the 45 degree angle and gentle neck stretch.

Breathe the first time into your belly for 3 counts, and exhale for 4 counts, making sure your face is relaxed. Do this one more time, breathing deeper into your belly, and exhaling louder through your mouth. On the third breath, breathe into your belly for 3 counts, and then as you exhale, stick your tongue out as far as you can down towards the floor and make the loud “haaaaa” sound for 5 seconds. 

  1. Come out from the pose, shake it out, and smile. Be mindful of the difference you feel between your right and left sides. 
  2. Now, do the same thing on the other side — with your right arm at a 45 degree angle, and your left arm stretching up. Make sure to do this with the correct breathing as we just did.
  3. As you finish your third exhale, come out from the pose, shake it out, and smile. Notice how you feel on both your right and left sides. 

 

Conclusion

And you’re done. Practice Face Yoga every day, and make use of the power of these movements to release tension whenever you are stressed — when you wake, in the shower, before bed, even in the car. Importantly, Face Yoga is completely safe for children, and doing these movements together with your child is a wonderful way to help your child regulate stress, and bring endorphins into your bodies through stress release and laughter.