On Your Health

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Wellness Trend: Facial Yoga and Gua Sha Stones

If your goal is to tone your arms, you should start doing pushups and bicep curls. For rock-hard abs, crunches and mountain climbers are the way to go. So it stands to reason that if you want to soften and relax your facial muscles, you need a good face workout.

A wellness trend based on this concept has sprung up in the past couple of years. It’s called facial yoga, a combination of massage therapy, acupressure, exercise and relaxation. This free, non-toxic, non-invasive technique stimulates muscles, tightens skin and eases tension. Facial yoga exercises even reduce stress lines and smooth out wrinkles, contributing to a younger-looking face. 


Do facial yoga exercises work?

There are a lot of skeptics out there, but data suggests that facial yoga exercises do indeed work. In a small 2018 study, participants comprised of healthy women ages 40 to 65 learned 32 facial exercises. Participants performed these exercises in 30-minute intervals, either daily or every other day, for 20 weeks.

One initial concern was that the exercises might create more wrinkles rather than get rid of them. But the opposite occurred. At the end of the study, participants reported fuller upper and lower cheeks. In addition, the age estimate of each participant as guessed by an unbiased third party decreased significantly compared with the baseline.

These results aren’t surprising when you consider that facial yoga is based on the same principles as resistance training. When you exercise a muscle, it grows in size. So as you work the muscles of your face, you can expect added definition in your cheeks and less drooping around the jaw line, making you look younger. As one doctor involved in the study put it, “It’s like blowing up a deflated beachball.”


Who can practice face yoga?

Most people can try facial yoga with complete confidence. However, you should consult a medical professional before trying it if you have a facial injury, active acne, eczema or psoriasis.

Start with one exercise a day, which only takes about a minute, and work your way up to 10 minutes per day. From there, try increasing to 20 or 30 minutes per day. Be consistent, and you could see results within six to 10 weeks.


Facial yoga exercises

Ready to try face yoga for yourself? Here are some exercises you can do at home in your spare time.

Neck tension releaser

Here’s how to boost circulation, release muscle tension, open the shoulders, and lift and firm the front of your neck.

  1. Tilt your head back and tap your fingers lightly across the front of your neck.
  2. Gradually move your fingers up onto your cheeks, gently tapping around your mouth, under your eyes and on your temples.
  3. Continue these movements for one minute.

Third eye softener

Reduce headaches, relax muscles and soften the vertical lines between your eyebrows with this simple exercise.

  1. Press one finger into a spot between your eyebrows.
  2. Repeat for one minute.

Forehead smoother

Follow these steps to lift your eyebrows, smooth forehead lines, release tension and prevent eyelid droop.

  1. Place your first two fingers of both hands on your forehead along the hairline.
  2. Press your fingers firmly into your skin and slide them down toward your eyebrows.
  3. At the same time, raise your eyebrows.
  4. Hold for 10 seconds and breathe in deeply.
  5. Complete the facial exercise three times, holding for 20 seconds on the last rep.
  6. Repeat this sequence one more time.

Lower eyelid firmer

Here’s how to strengthen your upper and lower eyelids, increase circulation, brighten the skin around your eyes, and decrease under-eye puffiness.

  1. Place your middle fingers on the inside corners of each eye. Then, place your index fingers on the outside corners.
  2. Squint and feel the muscles under your fingers tighten. Hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Focus on squinting your lower eyelids while keeping your upper ones open.
  4. Complete 10 times, holding the final squint for 20 seconds.


Complement face yoga with gua sha stones

You can do several things to make the results of face yoga show up sooner or appear more pronounced. Some recommendations include wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep. Another suggestion is to use gua sha stones.

Often touted by marketing companies as an “ancient Chinese beauty tool,” the facial benefits of gua sha were actually discovered by mistake. The technique was originally used to treat heatstroke and seasonal illnesses like the common cold. Traditionally, gua sha was performed with any tool the practitioner had on hand—a soup spoon, coin or metal plate would suffice.

Today, polished jade, rose quartz or buffalo horn can be used as a tool to increase circulation and energy flow. The soothing, meditative experience complements face yoga with Botox-like results you can replicate at home.

Consider some of the published benefits of gua sha.

  • Increase blood flow by stimulating the surface of the skin
  • Improve the appearance of newly formed fine lines and wrinkles
  • Promote lymphatic drainage to reduce puffiness
  • Relieve muscle tension the same way a massage does


How to use gua sha stones

Gua sha, which translates to “scraping” or “scratching,” aims to stimulate specific areas of the body. Despite the direct translation, gua sha doesn’t involve painful scraping. In fact, gua sha stones have smooth, rounded edges to ensure a comfortable treatment.

If you want to practice gua sha on your face, the first step is to clean your skin. Then, slather facial oil, cream or lotion onto your skin to protect against abrasion. Hold your gua sha stone in one hand and follow these steps:

  • Place the stone against your forehead just above one eyebrow and move it upwards, applying gentle pressure as you go. Reposition the stone elsewhere along your brow and repeat this motion.
  • Shift the stone to one side of your nose and move it outward in a swooping motion along your cheek toward your ear. Repeat on the other cheek.
  • Flip the stone around to the side with two curves. Then, starting at the chin, drag the stone along your jaw line until you reach your ear. Repeat on the other side.

Rotate through these movements for about 10 minutes. Also, remember to only move the stone in one direction, not back and forth, to channel blood flow in a desirable way.


If you have questions about skin health and fighting premature aging, or you want advice about trying facial yoga or gua sha stones, please consult your INTEGRIS Health provider. For more life


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