On the face of it

Exposing the brave new trend in looking good Face Yoga 
For representational purposes
For representational purposes

Blame the fear of losing face on Instagram. Urban face gymnastics beckons with gusto. Then there are endorsements dime a dozen by celebs (sprucing up their faces surreptitiously in dermatologists’ clinics through corrective treatments), the self-appointed promoters of face yoga. While we minions are pouting and polishing ourselves with tools like rollers and gua sha, trying to beat age with not just clean plates and spiritual wellness. Cue into the Face Yoga decoder before you swipe your credit card to sign up for classes at ‘only Rs 99 a month’.

“It is a new entrant into the fitness market, as people are trying out new things,” says Dr Smitha Warrier, consultant, dermatology, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru. “When we exercise regularly, there is some impact on our body. Similarly, yoga exercises, if done regularly, and right, have some impact too. But the results would vary depending on the skeletal framework of the body, including face, overall fat content in the body, chronic diseases, water retention…  Popular corrective treatments for jowls, wrinkles, laugh lines, double chins for high wattage personalities include botulinum toxin injection, filler injection, thread lifts, injection lipolysis,” she adds.

Yoga as we have always known it to be has been the classic route to wellness. Cut to 2021. The Face Yoga revolution took the nation by storm when work from home (WFH) set in as Covid claimed Indian turf. The taglines ran: WFH fatigue? Try Face Yoga. Multiple apps, free classes, celeb ambassadors leapt onto the wagon, trundling us along. The back-to-basics anthem was gaining ground. We fell in line. A workout for the face came as divine intervention, with our slashed salaries and inflated expenses during the past two years—as it is not painful, costs nothing compared to plastic surgery, and gives you a beautiful inner glow. Does it?

FYI, there is no FY. “Face Yoga is a modern term doing the rounds as a fad now. Traditionally, we would massage the face in simple kriyas like kapal randhradhouti and karna randhradhouti. These are helpful in enhancing blood circulation, stimulating facial muscles and the lymphatic system but are also techniques for cleansing the cavities of the skull, thus removing mucous and pollutants. All of this combined leads to the glow that is promised by Face Yoga,” says Delhi-based yoga expert Sonakshi Dhamija. What about the jaw sharpening, double chin reduction and contouring to cultivate sharper cheekbones that Face Yoga sessions claim to deliver?

“There is no yoga on earth that can tighten your face,” says Dr Rashmi Shetty, Mumbai-based celebrity dermatologist, founder and creator, Sol Skin Corp. “On an efficacy scale, I rate the benefits of these exercises two on 10. The exercises that you perform can just about help in lymphatic drainage and reduce puffiness, that’s it. One specific exercise that helps a little bit is the neck movement: when you look above, neck stretched, mouth wide open to align both the jaws in contact, this helps slightly tighten the area where you tend to develop a double chin. But even this is fleeting as the muscle here is so tiny that it cannot be built upon like our body muscles when we exercise.” 

It isn’t love, or contortions, that make your face glow, it is improved blood circulation. Facial massage comes in multiple forms on salon menus. No oils and creams involved, only a rapid, brisk patting and stroking of the facial muscles with fingers and knuckles, for an hour, till you almost burst into tears. Ask me. It awakens the face for sure, albeit with an effect that lasts for a few hours. For Tarini Peshawaria, skincare and beauty influencer in Amritsar, the facial exercises as part of the yoga routine deserve a mention. “I have noticed short-term results with exercises dubbed as face yoga,” she confesses. “I feel it definitely helps with my morning puffiness by increasing blood circulation. I also make use of face tools in the gua sha and rollers. I either prefer using it chilled out of the fridge in the morning to de-puff my face or at night time with a facial oil to calm my muscles.” 

Calming the skin is the premise of a host of factors: adequate sleep, proper exercise, sound diet, optimum social nutrition, sunshine, laughter for that happy hormone flow. Where does that leave Face Yoga and its slick, timely marketing? Explains Dr. Rashmi Ravindra, consultant, dermatology and cosmetology, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru, “Face Yoga is trending these days, as many are working from home and information is available at a click, but this is a double-edged sword. Interpret the information correctly, else with incorrect movements you can invite hypertrophy, swelling of cheeks and facial muscles instead of looking thin,” says Ravindra. There is proper professional guidance required. Reducing stress, bettering water intake, timely removal of make-up at night before sleep, appropriate sunscreen application are essential factors too. 

“I prefer making use of a chilled jade roller, as opposed to a drippy ice cube, on my face to simply improve blood circulation. Stimulating the flow is all that the gua sha and rollers do. You cannot give yourself a sharper jawline or sleeker cheekbones by using these tools, or by taking to Face Yoga. You need to use gentle strokes and be careful, especially if you have fine hair on your face, as moving the tools vigorously can cultivate a painful situation in folliculitis,” she explains. 

Invest your time in a realistic approach. Explains Dr. Rinky Kapoor, consultant dermatologist and dermato-surgeon, The Esthetic Clinics, Mumbai, “Exercise should be combined with age-appropriate skincare products. Also, diet, hydration and a disciplined routine go a long way in keeping the signs of ageing at bay.”

Five Glow Getters 

✥ Puff your cheeks inhaling, expand the breath from cheek to cheek and release it; this strengthens your cheek muscles and gives you ‘lifted’ cheeks. This exercise helps in some measure if done 
correctly, every day.

✥ Face oils are rich in serums and vitamins. They give you a glow (try saffron extracts), balancing out acne 

✥ Use face mists rich in plant and essential oils to work aromatherapy and boost antioxidant 
activity in your skin 

✥ Bring on Vitamin C serum application at night, after the cleanse and tone routine. It eases pigmentation to even out skin tone.

✥ Sleeping masks bring in a calming routine at bedtime for eyes and skin, acting as a rejuvenation agent

—Dr Shareefa Chause, Dermatologist, Apollo Spectra, Mumbai

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