By Annelise Hagen
Annelise Hagen will lead Yoga Face: A Wellness Approach to Facial Rejuvenation.
The answer to this question is: It depends. You will absolutely create more wrinkles by randomly making weird faces. You will certainly cause deeper grooves and scowls in your face by frowning and worrying. The facial muscles are involuntary, so they do whatever they want to do behind your back—or, perhaps more accurately, behind your face. On the bright side, we can train our facial muscles to do what we want. The facial muscles repeat certain expressions over and over again, and for better or worse, these “faces” become your permanent expression. These involuntary expressions could be compared to a mask that you carve yourself into the delicate surface of your own skin.
I train people to tone and lift their facial muscles to create a more youthful appearance. The targeted exercises I devised help bring circulation and tone to the muscles and skin of the face. The production of collagen and elastin is stimulated through these exercises. Through muscular repetitions reinforced by gentle fingertip pressure, the face can be sculpted. I also help people to relax and release the tension and worry that causes the unsightly frowns and scowls to begin with. And guess what the biggest tool for countering these sad wrinkles is? Laughter. A lot of Yoga Face exercises simply involve being silly and laughing in the face of fear of aging.
Some people are terrified of laughing for fear that it will cause more wrinkles. The truth is, no one ever looked older from a laugh line. These pleasant expression lines are usually quite mild, and only help to lift the face. It takes less muscular effort to smile than to frown. If you are going to etch a permanent emotional record on your face, it may as well be a happy one!
The best default expression you can train yourself to wear is a gentle, Buddha-like smile. If you don’t know what I mean, look at some Asian art. Check out the Buddha, who is always slightly smiling, but never has any wrinkles. This face is the product of enlightenment, but I say fake it ‘til you make it. By assuming the face of enlightenment, your mind may just follow suit. We are all divine at our core. Peel away the layers of stress and mental fluctuations, and you will connect with your ageless, eternally beautiful self. And in the meantime, don’t be afraid to indulge in a little spirit-lifting laughter.