The Path To Bodhichitta

You start where you are, the practice will meet you there.

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Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Monday, December 03, 2007

Facial Asanas

When I was a kid, I almost never pulled faces. Mainly because my mother would not stand for it and also because Enid Blyton had me convinced that if the wind changed direction, my face would be frozen in that expression for a long, long time.

When I crossed the threshold into adulthood, my first job was that of a beauty writer for Marie Claire magazine. One of the most in-demand articles was on minimizing facial lines and creases, and the first rule was to reduce excessive facial movement.

But like everything prim, proper and stuffy, snooty rules too eventually fall prey to irony and humour. Including those that Blyton and the beauty editors dreamt up. Kate Stinchfield's health article in last week's issue of TIME declares that Facial Yoga is spreading like wildfire through New York, all the way to Honolulu.

Students in Annalise Hagen's Yoga Face class congregate every week to press their fingers into their foreheads and move them around, stick their tongues out and let them hang. Practitioners say manipulating facial muscles tightens sagging skin and reduces wrinkles.

Hagen's brainwave took place when she noticed many of her clients trooping to spas for botox injections during their lunch break. "It didn't seem to be in the spirit of yoga to me," she says and thus, Facial Yoga was born.

A yoga teacher friend once told me that if I wanted to relax my face while holding a pose, I should just relax my jaw. Intrigued, I tried it during a practice and I could literally feel the tension crumbling from between my eyes, my forehead, cheeks and chin. Evidently, all our facial tension is channeled into the jawline, which single-handedly contributes to the wrinkles and creases on our faces.

However, as with everything else, moderation is key.

"If someone was doing a bizzare contortion, they could spasm. They might actually cause permanent damage," says Dr. Min-Wei Christine Lee. But, she adds, a little cheek-puffing and lip-pouting "could help train muscles not to go into those worry lines."

Asanas For The Face

1. Repeatedly blow kissess. It will give you stronger lips and a firmer pout.
2. Stretch your tongue and let it hang. And tingling means you're doing it right.
3. Widen your eyes while keeping your forehead steady will smooth your brow.
4. Squeeze all your facial muscles together at the centre of your face and release.
5. Puff your cheeks out and release to keep them supple.
6. Tilt your chin upwards to firm your cheeks, chin and neck.
7. Move your eyeballs to the left and right to keep crow's feet at bay.
8. Relax the entire face, closing your eyes and your mouth.


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