face yoga

Move over Botox, there’s a new fountain of youth in town: face yoga. A natural, non-invasive alternative to risky facelifts and expensive face creams, face yoga tones and firms the 57 muscles in your face and neck.

“The benefits of practicing face yoga are anti-aging, reducing lines and wrinkles, lifting and firming, improving skin tone, reducing headaches and eye strain, relaxing tension, giving an energetic appearance to the face, and a healthy glow,” says Danielle Collins, the world’s leading face yoga expert.

Because the muscles are smaller than those in the body, it also takes a lot less time for them to increase in strength and tone. A few minutes per day could make you look three years younger, says a new study published by Northwestern University.

Need a “natural facelift”?  We asked Collins to teach us five facial exercises that’ll lift, firm, and reduce wrinkles.

Swan’s Neck

Reduce wrinkles on the side of your neck and face  If there’s anything that shows the creeping effects of age, it’s the loose skin on your neck and face. Whether you have a double chin, drooping jowls, or a “turkey neck”—you know the sagging skin pooled under your chin that ruins your selfies and screams “gobble gobble”—it’s probably your least-favorite body part.

If the war against the waddle has you feeling like an ugly duckling, then it’s time to channel your inner swan. Turn your head 45 degrees to the upper right and pucker your mouth really hard. You’ll feel the stretch in the left front of your neck. Hold for five seconds. Then repeat one more time.

Swan's Neck face yoga

Reduce wrinkles on the side of your neck and face using Swan’s Neck, a face yoga pose


The Hook

Lift and define your cheekbones  It’s nearly impossible to get near the pantheon of the World’s Most Beautiful People without cheekbones that look like skyscrapers. Why? They’re a sign of a symmetrical face—meaning the two sides of your face would line up perfectly if you folded it down the middle. A universal symbol of beauty, high cheekbones also have a sexual connotation.

“Women are effectively advertising their general fertility with their faces,” says Miriam Law Smith, a researcher at the University of Saint Andrews. “In evolutionary terms, it makes sense for men to favor feminine fertile women. Those that did would have had more babies.” While makeup contouring gives the illusion of high cheekbones, you can also get them with this asana. Simply make your index fingers into hooks and stroke them under your cheekbones 10 times.

Double Victory

Banish your eye bags  Do your under-eye bags make you look like you’ve gone twelve rounds with a boxer? While your puffy eyes might be the result of allergies, fluid retention, smoking, or a lack of sleep, the real culprit is most likely age. “The most common explanation for the appearance of dark circles under our eyes is…the loss of subcutaneous fat,” says Hayley Goldbach, a dermatologist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Looking to K.O. your under-eye bags? Make mini-Vs by placing your middle fingers on the side of your nose and your index fingers on the outer edge of your eyes. Look up at the ceiling while squinting. You’ll feel a little pulse on the outer edge of your eyes. Hold for two to three seconds. Repeat five times.

Circle the Eyes

Get rid of your crow’s feet  Whether you call them laugh lines, character lines, or crow’s feet, we’re willing to bet that if someone were to make a league table of wrinkles from most inoffensive to “ugh, Botox immediately!” the line around your eyes would come out on top.

Circle the Eyes

Get rid of crow’s feet with Circle the Eyes, a face yoga pose

The skin around your eyes is 10 times thinner than the skin on the rest of your face. Add to that your face is constantly exposed to the elements, lacks sebaceous glands that produce hydrating oil, and loses collagen—the rubber band-like substance that snaps your skin perfectly back into place—and you have the perfect recipe for dreaded crow’s feet.

Ready for them to fly, fly away? Place your middle fingers at the beginning of your eyebrows. Then gently tap your eyes following the top of your eyebrow. Continue under your eyes just at the top of your cheekbones, ending at the inside corners of your eyes. Repeat in the opposite direction. Then with your index fingers very gently stroke just under your eyes from the nose outwards four times to warm up and relax the eye area.

The Smile Smoother

Smooth smile lines  Some people consider laugh lines a badge of honor. Usually, the first signs of aging that appear on the face after we hit our 40s, “smile lines make people look warmer, happier, and more genuine, which can translate into being more beautiful.” “[They]…almost always happen when people either smile or laugh—and while anyone can fake a smile, fine lines are hard to fake,” says Belisa Vranich, a PsyD and clinical psychologist.

Whether you want to reduce your smile lines or prevent them altogether, the smile smoother is a simple no-needle solution. Start by placing your tongue on the inside of your lips, close to your lip line. Then very slowly roll your tongue around your mouth, three times one way and three times the other way.

“As a general rule, you’ll start to see more of a long-term improvement in your face and neck after 2 weeks,” Collins told Beyond Words. “After 2 to 4 months, you’ll notice you have less fine lines and less tension. Within 6 to 9 months, people have reported that they look and feel many years younger and feel more relaxed within themselves.”

Looking for more face yoga exercises?  Download Danielle Collins’ face and body yoga apps or follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.