Although most of what I share with you here is Face Yoga, one of my earliest steps into the world of holistic health was traditional Yoga. And body yoga remains a vital part of my daily routine too of course.
In fact, one of the many reasons I developed my Danielle Collins Face Yoga Method because people who came to my yoga classes often asked me for ideas on how to bring the same benefits to their faces as their bodies were receiving from doing yoga.
Drawing on my training in facial massage, as well as extensive research into Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, I started teaching face yoga techniques at the end of my yoga classes. I began including just five minutes of Face Yoga before we moved into savasana. And it grew from there!
While I now often treat Face Yoga and body Yoga as two separate practices, they are strongly linked. Today, I want to explore that link further by looking at how you can tone your face at the same time as doing your body Yoga practice.
This post is inspired by a conversation I had recently over on my Face Yoga Expert podcast. It isn’t often that I get to host someone who is as deeply involved with face yoga as I am. But Annelise Hagen certainly fits the bill and was a joy to chat to!
Based in the US, Annelise is a yoga teacher and the author of the book, Yoga Face. Although we’ve only connected recently, there’s plenty of overlap between our journeys. Both of us developed our face yoga offerings after noticing that traditional body-based yoga rarely includes much mention of the face.
You can catch up with our full conversation here on my podcast. In this post, I want to draw out some of the ideas we discussed for toning the face with body yoga poses.
1. Focus on the Gaze
It isn’t something that many of us are conscious of. But in the Western world, we rarely use the full range of motion of our eye muscles. Instead, we’ll turn our heads when we want to look at something or move our eyebrows and foreheads when we express emotions.
A vital part of traditional body yoga is the direction of our gaze. In some poses, we might focus our gaze just beyond the tip of our nose. In others, we might find a fixed spot to concentrate on to help us balance. We also talk about keeping the gaze soft.
Using the full range of our eye movement as part of our body yoga practice can help to strengthen and tone the muscles around this area, reducing puffiness and dark circles.
I loved Annelise’s suggestion of using what she calls “lizard gaze”. In other words, moving our eyes in the direction we intend to go before we move our bodies.
Annelise recommends doing this for twists. Before you turn your body or even move your head, take your eyes to look in the direction you are going to twist. Allow your gaze to lead the rest of your body into the pose.
2. Balance Poses
Linked with the idea of consciously using your eyes as part of your yoga practice, I love balance poses for improving your face.
Simple balances like tree pose require you to fix your gaze on a steady spot and relax your face, so you can hold the pose. This helps to release tension in the facial muscles.
Balances also bring you into the present moment. You can’t let your attention wander, or you’ll topple over. This can give you the mental space to let go of any stress you are holding in your face and relax into the moment.
Another type of pose I find very beneficial for the face is backbends. These are fantastic for lifting and toning your neck area.
They also help to open your chest, which allows more oxygen to get to your heart. Good circulation is so important for healthy, glowing skin, so getting that extra oxygen into your bloodstream helps your face, as well as the rest of your body.
Backbends also help combat the effects of sitting hunched over a computer all day, a common feature of modern-day life. They improve your posture and release tension from your shoulders and neck, which can often have a knock-on effect on the muscles of your face.
Increasing the circulation to our faces is great for improving the health of our skin. Inversions are a beautiful way to do this, encouraging our blood to flow into our heads and upper bodies.
The good news is that you don’t have to be able to do a handstand to use inversions as part of your practice. If it is available to you, a shoulder stand is a wonderful pose to increase blood flow to your head and slow the heartbeat, helping you feel calmer.
Another option is to lie on your back with your legs up against a wall. You can use cushions or bolsters to support you.
5. Posture and Breath
Being aware of our posture can help prevent tension from building up in our backs, necks, and faces.
As you move through your yoga routine, think about where your head is positioned on your neck and try not to slump or hunch forwards.
Carry this awareness through to your daily life too. And concentrate on relaxing your face as much as possible. It can make a surprising difference to your appearance when you aren’t holding so much tension in the facial muscles.
Breathing exercises, like the ones I teach as part of my face yoga routines, can help you to relax your face. You can incorporate these into your body yoga practice too. Lion’s Breath is a popular option for releasing tension.
My aim has always been to share my knowledge and experience with others, so you can use Face Yoga and other wellness tools as part of your own journey.
For you, that might simply look like doing a short face yoga sequence as part of your daily routine. I share plenty of techniques you can use on Instagram and YouTube, as well as via my book and apps.
Or you may feel called to dive deeper into Yoga and Face Yoga, using some of what I share as part of your journey. If this is you, I’m always pleased to support you by sharing my knowledge.
My Face Yoga Teacher Training is one way to take your face yoga practice to the next level. And I’m thrilled to have recently introduced a Facial Gua Sha Teacher Training course too, in collaboration with Hayo’u.