Look Younger with Deep Tone Face Yoga and Red Light Therapy
People who want to take years off their appearance often resort to anti-aging procedures like Botox, fillers, lasers, collagen creams, oils, and even cosmetic surgery. These methods can be expensive, and only partially effective—if they’re effective at all.
Enter face yoga. This intriguing new practice is a great way to improve your appearance and reduce wrinkles and bagginess. In fact, face yoga promises to have the same toning and rejuvenating effect on your face as normal yoga does on your body. In this article we’ll discuss how face yoga can make you look younger, and how to supercharge its effects with red light therapy.
What Is Face Yoga, and Does It Work?
Face yoga is a method of making the face look younger by toning the facial muscles. It involves a series of highly exaggerated facial expressions that are designed to un-train the habitual expressions and repetitive motions that create deep lines and wrinkles. Face yoga is non-invasive, safe, and completely natural. It costs nothing but time and consistency to see results.
There are 43 muscles in the face, and 26 in the neck. The theory behind face yoga is that like regular yoga, consistent practice will relax, strengthen, tone, and lengthen the facial and neck muscles. This promises to effectively replace Botox and cosmetic surgery to prevent, and even reverse, fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin, and restore a more youthful appearance.
Face yoga delivers its rejuvenating effects in several ways:
The circulatory system nourishes and detoxifies the skin. Poor circulation can contribute to acne, inflammation, dull skin, slow healing, dark eye circles, poor skin tone, and wrinkles. Face yoga stimulates muscle activity, which increases blood flow to the face. After practicing face yoga, one of the first effects you will notice is a bright, glowing complexion.
Firmer Facial Muscles
Firming the muscles in the face is an important anti-aging strategy. Aging causes a decline in skin elasticity, as well as a thinning and repositioning of the fat pads between the muscle and skin. Sagging skin causes these fat pads to slide downward, which contributes to hollow cheeks and the development of “jowls.” Strengthening facial muscles helps counteract this. As the underlying muscle is strengthened, there is more volume beneath the skin, which contributes to a full facial shape.
Face yoga doesn’t require any equipment except your fingers. It uses resistance training and repetition to strengthen muscles. As one muscle is contracted, the opposing muscle stretches and lengthens. This combination of strengthening and lengthening makes face yoga an effective natural face lift and results in a more relaxed, happy expression with less frown lines.
Relaxation of "Trained" Expressions
The more we repeat a facial expression, the more it becomes a permanent part of our resting face. Laugh lines like crow’s feet may be signs of a life filled with laughter; but nearly everyone wants to get rid of worry lines that give them a constantly angry or worried expression. These include:
- Deep frown lines, from scrunching the eyebrows together
- Worry lines in the forehead, from repeated furrowing of the brow
- Marionette lines, from turning the corners of the lip downward in anger or sadness
- Top lip lines, from pursing the lips
Face yoga relieves tension in your face, leaving you looking younger and refreshed.
Face yoga relieves the permanently semi-contracted state of chronically tense muscles. For example, imagine what happens to the skin that’s attached to the muscles between the eyes. When those muscles are “stuck” in a contraction that pushes the skin together, the skin has no choice but to fold itself into creases, or frown lines. Through relaxation and lengthening, these facial muscles no longer stay contracted—relaxing the unconscious scowl.
Does Face Yoga Actually Work?
According to a first-of-its kind study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, the answer to that question is yes. The study, which was conducted in 2018, focused on women from 40 to 65 years old. Participants first engaged in two 90-minute in-person sessions with a face yoga instructor, and followed through with exercises at home: daily 30-minute exercises during weeks 1 to 8, followed by 30-minute sessions every other day during weeks 9 to 20. The program consisted of 32 distinct facial exercises, each lasting about one minute.
The results were improved (younger) facial appearance including fuller upper and lower cheeks, and better overall facial muscle tone. Most notably, participants showed a significant change in “facial age,” meaning how old they appeared to be to dermatologist raters. The participants were photographed at the beginning, mid-point, and end of the study.
The mean facial age was 50.8 years at the beginning of the study. By 8 weeks, participants’ facial ages had dropped to 49.6 years and at the 20-week point, when the study concluded, the mean facial age was 48.1 years: nearly a three-year decrease in age appearance. Participants showed improvement in all facial areas that were assessed, and reported high satisfaction with the results.
If you practice facial yoga, you may notice results even sooner than these study participants, who were selected based on age but were otherwise not rated on health or lifestyle. Individual results will vary, of course, depending on factors such as nutrition, sun exposure, genetics, overall health, smoking and other lifestyle habits, and stress levels.
One of the first indications that face yoga is working is a glowing complexion and less under-eye puffiness, and other benefits begin to show up later. As with all exercise programs, optimal results take time. Anti-aging methods like sun protection, good nutrition, exercise, and stress relief are indispensable health and beauty aids that will help reduce signs of aging.
Red Light and Face Yoga: The Fountain of Youth?
Face yoga relieves tension in your face, leaving you looking younger and refreshed.
Adding red light therapy to your face yoga sessions could accelerate and amplify your results. Face yoga promotes facial muscle tone, and red light therapy promotes collagen production. Together, this powerful combination can restore a youthful appearance without the exorbitant cost and risks associated with Botox and face lifts.
Red light is a natural part of the spectrum of light emitted by the sun. But because it is not ultraviolet (UVA/UVB) light, red light does not damage the skin. This makes it a safe, natural, and effective therapy with no side effects.
Red light has long been used to improve skin health and minimize the signs of aging. Also known as low-level laser light therapy or photobiomodulation, red light uses light-emitting diode (LED) devices to expose the skin to a spectrum of visible light with long wavelengths in the red and near-infrared (NIR) spectrum (630nm to 850nm). These wavelengths absorb deep into the skin with therapeutic effects at the cellular level.
How Red Light Amplifies the Effects of Face Yoga
If you’re among the many people who are using red light to minimize wrinkles and other signs of aging, combining red light with face yoga can do wonders to restore a healthy youthful appearance. Here’s how:
Cellular Energy Production
Red light works through mitochondrial photostimulation. It has a bioactive effect on mitochondria, which are the energy centers inside cells. Much like photosynthesis in plants, red light photons interact with mitochondria, and this stimulates the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that serves as the primary fuel for cells. Energized cells become high-functioning cells: more efficient and more resilient.
Red light enhances face yoga by improving the skin's cellular function, which improves complexion.
Red light also enhances cell proliferation, leading to efficient cellular life cycles. Instead of devoting their energy to survival, cells have the energy to perform their functions. This has a noticeable rejuvenating effect on the body’s largest organ: the skin.
Increased Collagen and Elastin
Red light therapy boosts the production of collagen, the main structural protein in the body’s connective tissues and one of the main building blocks of skin. As people age, collagen production decreases, which can cause skin to become thin and papery. Red light can reverse this trend and increase production and density of collagen.
Elastin is another protein found in connective tissue, especially in the skin. Its function is to maintain skin elasticity, which allows many tissues in the body (such as tendons, ligaments, and skin) to resume their shape after being stretched. Aged and sun-damaged skin can become less elastic and doesn’t bounce back after being stretched, and this can lead to sagging skin. Red light increases the production of elastin, thus helping skin retain its youthful firmness.
Improved Muscle Tone
After starting a new face yoga routine you may initially feel a little facial soreness, especially in chronically tight muscles, which is normal. It’s similar to experiences where you spend more time smiling than usual, and the next day you notice that your face hurts.
One of the most exciting discoveries about red light (and specifically NIR light) is its ability to promote muscle growth and muscle recovery after exercise. Face yoga gently builds up the muscles in your face to help achieve a full and youthful look. And don’t worry that your face will get the chiseled look of a professional bodybuilder; instead, you will develop healthier muscle tone to fill out your face naturally. Some benefits of red light therapy:
- Reduces oxidative stress in the muscles
- Results in less muscle fatigue
- Promotes muscle growth
- Minimizes delayed onset muscle soreness, the muscle pain you feel 24-72 hours after a workout
- Increases blood flow to facial muscles and skin
To optimize your efforts, you can use red light therapy before any workout, whether you’re working out your legs, arms, or core, or doing yoga.
Combining the muscle training of face yoga with the cellular-level therapy of red light will accelerate anti-aging efforts and turn back the clock on your face.
Anti-Aging Red Light Therapy and Face Yoga at Home
You can administer red light therapy in the comfort of home while you’re doing your face yoga exercises for a double whammy against aging.
First, choose a high-output LED device—and avoid inexpensive wands and masks that will invariably give you disappointing results. These products do not provide intensive enough red light output to penetrate the skin at a level that can stimulate collagen production and skin cell energy production.
Investing in a quality device that delivers high-intensity red light is the only way to go. Along with using your device to make your skin look healthier and more youthful, you can use it to treat age spots, stretch marks, scars, chronic skin conditions, hair loss, and also to improve muscle recovery after exercise. Because red light is completely safe, you can use it on a regular, ongoing basis.
A Daily Anti-Aging Practice
To use red light therapy along with face yoga, sit about 4” to 6” from your red light device. You’ll feel a pleasant, gentle warmth that will help relax your facial muscles.
It’s recommended that you avoid looking at the LED bulbs for the duration of a face yoga session, which depending on your personal preference, could last up to 30 minutes per day. Keep your eyes closed while doing exercises around the eyes and wear protective goggles while doing exercises on other parts of the face. Although red light is safe for eyes (in fact, you can even enhance your vision using red light), staring at for extended periods could lead to eye fatigue.
Face Yoga to Get You Started
Face yoga can help restore a more youthful face, and you can find many tutorials online. We’ve included some of our favorite exercises here.
1. Sax Player
Saxophone and other wind instrument players have plump, firm cheeks because of the muscles they use to play their instruments. This exercise firms the cheeks and prevents a hollow sunken-cheeks look.
- Breathing in through the nose, puff out your cheeks. Hold for 10 seconds.
- “Blow” as hard as you can through closed lips (adding resistance to the cheeks) for 10 seconds, and then release.
- Repeat 2 to 3 times.
2. Manual Face Lift
This exercise smooths out the nasolabial folds (smile lines) and improves circulation.
- With your palms on your temples, gently push your palms up toward the top and back of your head, pulling your face into a lifted position.
- Make an “O” shape with your mouth.
- Drop your jaw so you also create a gentle pull in the opposite direction.
- Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 2 to 3 times.
3. Baby Bird
This exercise helps counteract chin and neck sag (“turkey neck”) by working on the neck and jaw muscles.
- Press the tip of your tongue to the roof of the mouth.
- Smile (keeping your mouth open) and point your chin to the ceiling.
- Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 2 to 3 times.
4. All-Over Firmer
This exercise engages your whole face for all-over toning.
- Form an “O” with your mouth.
- Fold your lips over your teeth.
- Smile only with the corners of your mouth.
- Apply firm pressure on your cheeks with your index and middle fingers.
- With your eyes closed, grasp your chin between your thumb and ring finger/pinky, and pull your chin away from your face.
- Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat 2 to 3 times.
5. Mona Lisa Smile
This exercise resets your face to its natural, relaxed, peaceful and stress-free state. It promotes deep relaxation of the mind, which leads to relaxation of muscles. Use this exercise to conclude your face yoga practice.
- Close your eyes and imagine you are looking out at the world through your third eye (a point between and just above your eyebrows).
- Turn the corners of your lips up into a slight Mona Lisa smile.
- Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
These are just a few of the dozens of effective face yoga exercises. As with any physical routine, expect peak results to occur a few months after beginning your practice.
Reverse the Signs of Aging with Face Yoga and Red Light Therapy
If you want to look and feel younger, a combination of red light and face yoga may be exactly what you’re looking for. And if you’re curious about what else you can treat with red light? Check out our blog and discover more amazing therapeutic benefits for yourself.