WE’RE holding eye contact for that bit too long. The awkwardness is causing the giggles to creep up into my throat and I want to choke them out, laugh loudly and shout “what are we doing, lady?!”
But I continue to pull my eyebrows up to my forehead, fixating on my Face Yoga teacher’s wide eyes, while forcing down the ‘LOLS’.
Face yoga is a mixture of face exercises, acupressure and relaxation techniques
I was attempting Face Yoga for the first time at Shudehill’s wellness and creative centre, The Wonder Inn, in a dark, candlelit room that was filling up with a lavender mist. U2 was playing quietly in the background – somehow this made the experience even more surreal.
I was the only one who had turned up for the class today, so my lesson was going to be an intense téte-a-téte involving lots of ugly facial expressions and awkward shuffling.
Admittedly, I had signed up to Face Yoga on a whim; simply for comedy material and without much thought of whether there’d be any physical benefits.
As I sat crossed-legged on a yoga matt, blowing kisses to the air, pouting, and rolling my eyes back into my skull, it begged the earlier question - what on earth was I doing? And why would anyone need to practice yoga with their face?
“It’s about helping people look good naturally,” laughs my official face yogi, Susan Baxter, who has been practicing and teaching the unusual technique for a year. “Face Yoga is a mixture of face exercises, acupressure and relaxation techniques.”
“We exercise the body and we forget, or rather are clueless, that our faces are made up of 57 muscles. When we exercise the face we get quicker results in a shorter time. Face yoga lifts, tones and smooths wrinkles and relaxes a stressed out face."
"It’s also holistic and you leave with an increased feeling of wellbeing and relaxation. You leave with a glow,” she explains.
So Face Yoga could be called an anti-ageing treatment without the need to purchase expensive face creams, or have your forehead stapled to your scalp. Got it. And, awkwardness aside, it’s worth a go. As I massaged my forehead and stroked my neck with my fingertips I found that my face did relax. Baxter also claimed the exercises would help prevent ‘tech-neck’ which is caused by too much iPhone abuse.
Yet - and this is important to stress - it’s still really weird. That you can’t escape.
Of course, there are further barmy strains of yoga other than the usual ashtanga or bikram classes. Given there’s SUP yoga (that’s yoga on surfboards), laughter yoga, naked yoga and orgasmic yoga, face yoga seems plain ol’ normal in comparison.
In 30 minutes, I was demonstrating face moves with cute names like the ‘owl’, and ‘flirty eyes’ and, um, 'the botox'; all of which are said to give a lower and upper face lift if practiced regularly. By the end of my short session (classes usually last an hour), I had also learned to massage my own face with oils. It was pleasurable and self-satisfying (but not in an ‘orgasmic yoga’ kind of way - Google it... just not at work).
I also liked my face yogi a lot. She’s a natural beauty enthusiast and was clued-up on mindfulness and wellness. She also wasn’t afraid to laugh at herself, which was comforting while we sat face-to-face holding our breath (I think this move was called the 'puffer fish').
“A lot of people have never heard of Face Yoga,” she said. “There’s so many benefits and it's something you can adopt into your skincare routines.”
While I'd recommend Face Yoga for those willing to try something new to exercise away those dreaded wrinkles and lines, I’m not sure how often I intend to practice Face Yoga myself. Maybe the odd jaw and neck massage, here and there. Nonetheless, the class made me realise that I’m keen to try more unusual activites: perhaps big toe pilates or zumba on the bus.... it's all achievable with a little imagination.
Susan Baxter's Face Yoga Classes take place on Mondays at 7pm in The Wonder Inn, 29 Shudehill, Manchester M4 2AF.
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