People often ask me how they should use Face Yoga and Gua Sha together to boost their skin’s health and get all the beautiful wellness benefits from both practices. So, today I’m looking at some techniques you can use first thing in the morning to wake up your skin, boost lymphatic drainage, and get stagnant energy moving again.
I’ve been working closely with Katie Brindle, founder of the Hayo’u Method, for a while now and was thrilled to get together with her recently for a morning face yoga and Gua Sha session via Instagram Live.
We each shared some of our favourite techniques to use in the morning. If you couldn’t make it live, you can catch up with the recording of the session over on my YouTube channel.
You can easily complete a morning Face Yoga and Gua Sha routine in a few minutes. Katie and I are both busy working parents, so we know how squeezed the mornings can get!
Even just taking a minute or two to nurture yourself with these techniques can do wonders for your mood and energy levels. It is something I’ve noticed with people I’ve worked with over the years. They often come to Face Yoga or Gua Sha originally because they are interested in the aesthetic benefits – lifted skin and reduced lines and wrinkles.
But most people carry on doing it because of how it makes them feel. Although there are plenty of aesthetic benefits too, the true value of Face Yoga and Gua Sha is in how they help us to reconnect with ourselves, embrace self-care, and get our Qi (life force) moving.
1. Waking Up the Skin
Before you start, make sure you have clean hands and a clean face. Apply a few drops of oil or moisturising serum. I use Fusion by Danielle Collins, which is formulated specifically to work with Face Yoga.
Begin by tapping your fingertips rapidly all over your neck and face. As well as feeling lovely, this helps to wake up the skin and boost blood circulation.
Then stroke your fingers gently down the sides of your neck. This nurturing touch is very relaxing and great for lymphatic drainage.
Switch to stroking your hands upwards over your neck and under your chin. Move up over the cheeks, and then onto the forehead. It is such a soothing feeling. This will also help your skincare products penetrate deeply into your skin.
2. Soothing and Calming
Starting at the centre of your forehead, smooth the fingers of one hand out towards your temples. Repeat with the other hand and carry on alternating one side and then the other.
Many of us hold a lot of stress and tension in the forehead area. There are also a lot of acupressure points in this area, which are stimulated as we stroke our fingers over them.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, different areas of our face are associated with each of the internal organs. When we work on these areas of the face, we release blockages and get the Qi flowing properly again. This helps to restore the health of the corresponding organ.
At the same time, when there is an issue with our internal organs, we’ll often see this show up on our skin.
Parts of the forehead are associated with the digestive system in face mapping and face reading. When we are stressed, our guts often become tense, and we start to experience issues like bloating, IBS, or difficulty losing weight. So, by stimulating the acupressure points on the forehead, we help to alleviate digestive issues.
Next, stroke your index fingers up between your eyebrows. This point corresponds to the liver in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is linked to emotions like anger, stress, and frustration. You might notice that you are holding extra tension here if you’ve been especially stressed or angry recently.
With your ring fingers, gently circle around your eye area. You only need to press very lightly here. We’re working with the lymphatic drainage system, which is just below the skin. The skin in this area is also more fragile, so we don’t want to pull or drag it.
This move is great for first thing in the morning, especially if you’ve woken up with dark circles or puffy eyes.
3. Releasing Tension
Using two fingers and your thumb, use both hands to pinch all over your cheek area. You want to work down into the muscle, instead of lifting the skin itself. This is brilliant for boosting blood circulation, bringing lots of lovely nutrients and oxygen to the skin. It also gets the Qi moving.
Repeat the same pinching technique along your jawline, working outwards from your chin.
Then, use your thumbs to firmly stroke along beneath your jawline. Again, start at your chin and work out towards the corner of your jaw.
The jaw is another area where we often hold a lot of stress and emotion. It can become especially tight when we are trying to keep control of a situation.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the jaw relates to the gallbladder, which is paired with the liver. So, it is another area that is associated with feeling angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed.
Form your index finger and middle finger into a V shape. Smooth over the lip area with your index finger above your upper lip and your middle finger on your lower lip. You can use both hands.
Bring your index fingers together above the centre of your upper lip. Circle around your lips until your fingers meet at your chin, then reverse the move to return to your upper lip.
Then use your index finger to flick upwards all around your lip area.
Again, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the mouth and lip area are related to the digestive organs, especially the stomach, intestines, and spleen.
Finally, finish off the face yoga portion of this routine by smoothing your hands lightly down the sides of your neck.
Gua Sha Tools
As this is a morning routine, I suggest using either the jade tool, which is a great allrounder, or the rose quartz. As well as being beautifully soothing for sensitive skin, rose quartz is cooling and refreshing, making it perfect for the morning.
In the evening, on the other hand, the best tool is the clear quartz, which is known as the master healer. It is calming and helps to remove the stress of a busy day.
If you have one, you can also use a precision tool to work on delicate areas such as the eyes and lips (also available on my shop). Precision tools are also great for when you have mild breakouts, as it means you can easily avoid the affected areas.
4. Àn Fa
Before we start on the gua sha itself, we’re going to use a technique called àn fa, which means press-hold. Holding the tool so that the double-curved edge is facing the ceiling, place one of the flat sides against the skin just beneath your eye.
Hold it there for a few seconds and then repeat on the other side. Then, close your eyes and press the flat side of the tool gently over each eye.
The cool crystal is beautifully soothing, helping to reduce puffiness and wake up tired eyes. If it feels good, you can gently stroke the tool over the eye area, still using the flat side.
If you are currently experiencing any major breakouts, it isn’t a good idea to use Gua Sha, but you can get a lot of benefits from this àn fa technique instead. It is lovely for reducing inflammation and boosting lymphatic drainage.
5. Gua Sha
Turn your crystal tool so that you are working with the indented curved edge. Gently, stroke down your neck to activate the lymphatic drainage system and clear any toxins from the tonsil area.
For each area we focus on with Gua Sha, Katie suggests doing six stokes.
Switch to using the double-curved edge and smooth it over your jawline, starting at your chin and moving outwards.
You might find that this area feels especially crunchy – feel free to spend a little longer here if there is a lot of tension to release.
You’ll notice many of these movements are similar to the ones we were doing earlier with our hands. The tool is harder and can get deeper. This makes Gua Sha a great way to compliment the benefits of face yoga.
Using the indented edge again, sweep up over your cheek area, going out and up from your nose. Then, move to the eyebrow area and follow the curve of your eyebrows out from the bridge of your nose. This is another area that often feels tense and sometimes even a little sore.
Finally, go across your forehead with upwards strokes from your eyebrows to your hairline.
As you get more familiar with Gua Sha, you might like to freestyle a little here. Follow your intuition and feel into what your body needs on this particular morning.
Gua Sha and Face Yoga are both wonderful forms of self-care that can do so much to help us feel relaxed, energised, and valued.
For those who would like to learn to teach these skills to others, I’ve partnered with Katie Brindle and Katie Blake to develop a wonderful teacher training course in Facial Gua Sha. You can find out more about the course here.
It is available as a standalone or can be done together with my other teacher training course in Face Yoga.
Both courses are independently certified by the IPHM (International Practitioners of Holistic Medicine) and give you everything you need to start a career teaching Face Yoga or Facial Gua Sha (or both).
Check out the information in the teacher training section to learn more.