Head and face yoga
When I smile-breathe, I strengthen certain facial muscles. However, exercising the other muscles of my face and impacting facial tissues is equally important.
Smiling is not the only way to strengthen facial muscles. For example, when switching from a neutral facial expression to a frown, my lips curl down. This offers a limited, intentional activation of my frowning muscles and contributes positively to exercising my facial muscles.
One interesting branch of Yoga lays emphasis on the importance of different facial expressions and contacting different parts of the head; some call it Face Yoga. There is also a belief these exercises contribute to delay the onset of wrinkling.
Face Yoga exercises have been part of my variable routine for many years, not so much because of their claimed ‘anti-aging’ effect, but because it gives me a good feeling in the head. There are about 40 separate exercises in my routine. The exercises include: grimacing, stretching, rubbing, and tensing my facial skin and my head peripherals (neck, ears, and scalp). These exercises tone my facial muscles and draw blood to the surface of my face, improving circulation. In addition, practicing these exercises relaxes my facial muscles, making it easier for me to smile.
As years passed, experimentally, I added a short break after each exercise and focused on the area impacted. This absorption time boosted the effects of the exercises. However, the extended breaks between exercises slowed down my overall practicing tempo.
Finally, I discovered that the best way for me to absorb the exercise’s effect is to hold my breath during the pause, post the exhale. Taking time to feel the impact after completing an exercise augments the effect and allows it to ‘sink in.’ This small addition made a big change. Furthermore, stimulating different areas of my head can indirectly impact the central control of my body, which is my brain.
Following this added awareness of my breathing and the realization of its effects on my mind, I now refer to Face Yoga as Head Yoga.
I synchronize the exercises with my breathing, and while I make facial expressions or have hand contact with my head, I become unaware of my breathing and allow my ‘breathing app’ to take over. Toward the end of an exercise, I shift my awareness to my breathing, inhale, and slowly exhale as I relax my face (move to a neutral expression) or end hand contact with my head. Also, I slowly lower my arms. Finally, I hold my breath until I gently reach the point of ‘air hunger start.’ Post that, I relax, focus on the head area I impacted, and absorb the sensations there.