Face yoga has already won devotees among the forever-young-looking celebrity crowd, with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston said to be big fans. It’s the brainchild of New York yoga teacher Annelise Hagen, who teaches it at the swanky New York Health & Racquet Club.Click here to Read More
While I may not be physically blessed in every respect, the combination of a chubby face and a good dash of Oriental blood, courtesy of my father’s Chinese ancestors, means I’m not too wrinkly at the ripe old age of 36.
But it’s never too soon to start putting your face through its paces, and Hagen says that striking face yoga poses daily helps to keep your skin “more elastic, less saggy and deliver a more glowing, youthful complexion”.
Well, I am not about to turn my nose up at the chance of taut, baby-soft skin for life, and fortunately for those who can’t make her New York classes, she has brought out a book called Yoga Face: Eliminate Wrinkles With The Ultimate Natural Facelift, so we can all keep those wrinkles at bay.
There’s no set routine to face yoga as you can do ten minutes a day to target specific areas, or an hour-long anti-ageing routine once a week, topped up with ten-minute sessions when you moisturise your face at night.
Either way she promises fast results, with sags smoothed away and lines ironed out within three weeks. Too good to be true? There was only one way to find out.
After squinting away at Hagen’s instructions – surely not good for those creeping crow’s feet – I’m ready to put face yoga to the test.
There are dozens of exercises in the book, and I can’t wait to try out the intriguing sounding Lion Face and Satchmo.
Given my propensity towards a chubby chin, I decide to kick off with Bumblebees, as this targets the cheeks, lips and jaw muscles.
I’m hoping for an instant retraction of that extra chin, as I try to follow the directions to chew, exhale and emit a low hum all at the same time.
Just to make things even more complicated, the book says mentally repeating the word ‘why’ as you do all this “can be especially cathartic”.
Why am I sitting here, looking a fool as I jibber away in the faint hope this will do away with my excess chin, rather than opting for the more traditional method of saying no to chocolate?
Still, a swift look at Hagen’s pert blonde face hardens my resolve to follow her lead, though I am slightly perturbed by what look suspiciously like rather deep lines around her smiley green eyes – but perhaps it’s just because she’s pulling such a silly face in the picture.
As Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, I move on to the Marilyn; named after Ms Monroe.
This is designed to create stronger, firmer (and I’m hoping more kissable) lips.
It involves throwing kisses as you ‘visualise throngs of admiring fans’ – not too much of a stretch of the imagination for an egomaniac like me. After a few minutes of puckering up at my reflection, I feel more like a goldfish than a glamour girl.
I don’t want to strain my lips before Valentine’s Day, so it’s on to the Satchmo.
This exercise pays homage to trumpeter Louis Armstrong and is designed to strengthen the same muscles used when playing this instrument to ensure your cheeks stay pert and perky.
The accompanying photo of Hagen with eyes bulging and cheeks puffed out isn’t a pretty sight, and as I copy her puffing up each cheek in turn, I pray no one walks in – they’d be dialling 999 at the sight of my breathless, red-faced panting.
Time for the more soothing sounding Sphinx Smile.
This is meant to do away with those smile lines that etch their way around all but the most miserable people’s mouths.
The aim of the exercise seems to be recreating the dead-eyed smile of a bored receptionist, lifting the corners of your mouth, but keeping your eyes glassy and cold as a doll’s.
Apparently, if you keep this exercise up long enough you will re-train your smile to look this way all the time.
This may mean no lines, but it also means never flashing anyone a genuine grin again.
If that’s the trade-off, I say bring on the Botox.
Feeling rather grumpy at this attempt to rid me of my sunny smile, I am ready to work off a bit of aggression with the Lion Face.
It sounds perfect as it “releases emotional tension” and works out all the muscles in your face.
Pulling off the combination of balling my fists, squeezing my facial muscles, sticking out my tongue and rolling my eyes means I forget that other key element – breathing.
Once I’ve revived myself from near asphyxiation, I do feel more relaxed.
Perhaps it’s because the oxygen is returning to my brain, but it might be because pulling funny faces makes me feel young again.
Not because my skin has snapped back into shape, but because it takes me back to when I’d make silly faces behind the teacher’s back at primary school.
After an hour of pulling the Satchmo and the Sphinx Smile, my face is glowing, though I am not convinced it’s down to a newfound youthful vitality.
I think instead it’s the embarrassment at having been made to look such a fool – even if it was in front of my own reflection.