May 30, 2018

In the yoga community we hear the wordvinyasa all the time. Translated from Sanskrit, the word vinyasa meansto place in a special way. Often associated with aligning and linking breathe to each movement, a vinyasa practice sequences through a series of postures accompanied by regulated breathing. However, often overlooked in our physical practice are the 57 muscles in the face and neck. Even theeyes have muscles that need to be exercised. Underneath the skin, facial muscles, just like the other muscles of the body, need movement. Similar to the shoulders, the jaw, brow, and forehead are often places where wemanifest tension.

I call this series of facial exercises Facial Vinyasa because rather than break down the posture and focusing on alignment like Iyengar or Anusara, we will flow through these postures to bring physical awareness to the face in one fluid practice.

Simhasana (Lion Pose)

Simha is the Sanskrit word for lion. Simhasana was inspired by a roaring lion and is a good way to release any constrictions in the face and throat.

  1. Kneeling on the floor, cross right ankle over left
  2. Sit back and press palms against knees
  3. Inhale deeply through the nose
  4. Gaze at either the spot between the brows or the tip of the nose
  5. Roar 3 times while opening mouth wide and extending the tongue
  6. Switch left ankle over right
  7. Repeat

Eye Asanas

Just as we swing our hips to warm up our pelvic joint, or do arm circles to bring circulation to your shoulder joint, moving the extraocular muscles in circles can help release tension behind the eye.

Circles

  1. Keeping the head, neck, and spine still, relax your body
  2. Slowly work your eyes in a clockwise motion around the numbers of a clock inhaling with the rise and exhaling with the fall
  3. When you reach back to start, rub your palms together to create heat and rest on your eyes for 30 seconds
  4. Move in the counterclockwise direction
  5. Try at least 10 circles each direction

Vertical & Lateral

  1. Relax your facial muscles and visualize a clock in front of you
  2. Start from 12 o’clock and move your way to 6’o clock
  3. Repeat upward and downward movements 20 times
  4. Close your eyes to reset and take 5 deep breaths
  5. Open your eyes and start again but this time making your way from 9’oclock to 3’oclock
  6. Repeat lateral motions 20 times

Come Out of Your Shell
The masseter, also known as the jaw, is one of the strongest muscles in the body. You’ve probably heard the cue “relax the jaw” in a yoga class as the temporomandibular joint is the unconscious holder of anxiety. Dropping the lower teeth away from the upper teeth can help relax the jaw and neck.

  1. With an inhale, tilt your chin to the ceiling
  2. Exhale, pressing the shoulders away from the ears
  3. Inhale press your fingertips over your heart filling up the lungs
  4. Exhale relaxing the face and neck

 

Smooth Operator
Smoothing the brow can help alleviate tension in the brow bone muscles and smooth out horizontal forehead lines.

  1. Place inside of both index fingers on your forehead
  2. Sweep fingers outward on the forehead applying light pressure
  3. Inhale with each reset and exhale with each sweep

 

Savasana (Corpse Pose)
In the final pose of your yoga practice, total relaxation is required of not only your body, but also your face.

  1. Close your eyes and imagine the face of Buddha
  2. Visualize the point between your eyebrows
  3. Smile slightly and let any tension in your face melt away
  4. Breathe deeply

Although our facial muscles can’t lift weights or hit the treadmill, they can benefit from facial asanas and massage. Simple lifestyle changes like improvingyour nutrition or incorporating stress relieving exercises can improve your quality of life. Relax and tone facial muscles by bringing awareness to the face and put your best face forward.


Christin Lee is a yoga instructor, entrepreneur, and lifestyle blogger living in NYC. She currently writes forInsiderEnvywith an emphasis and focus on fitness, health, and universal human rights.




Subscribe