Ohm those wrinkles away: Can a workout for the face banish the collagen, the creams, and the microdermabrasion? A new book says yes.

Thursday, April 26, 2007
Trying to ward off frown lines and sagging cheeks with Face Yoga. (AP Photo/HO/Red Wheel/Weiser LLC/Conari Press)

Face yoga is finding a niche among millions of women who want to firm their face and reduce the wrinkles without the pain and expense of Botox and facelifts. Practitioners claim the exercises relieve tension in the face muscles, warding off frown lines, sagging cheeks, crow's feet and droopy eyes, mouths, chins and cheeks.

"We have 190 muscles from the neck up," says Marie-Veronique Nadeau, author of "The Yoga Facelift: The All-Natural, Do-it-Yourself Program for Looking Younger and Feeling Better," which went on sale last week. In her book, Nadeau, who describes facelift yoga as a trip to the spa, outlines several exercises to help repair wrinkles, reshape and redefine the face and neck.

Warding off the development of frown lines. (AP Photo/HO/Red Wheel/Weiser LLC/Conari Press)

There's the "Keep Your Chin Up," the "Upper Lip Smoothie" and the "Cheek Bone Creator," where you place the two forefingers of each hand outside the nostrils and smile without drawing the corners of the mouth up, which lifts the cheek muscles. She has exercises to create stronger cheeks, banish scowls and sculpt the neck. There is even one for the philtrim, the area between the nose and the lips.

"But it's not that you are pushing your face around with your fingers," says Nadeau, who owns a cosmetics company. "It does help when you are doing some of these exercises to put your fingers over the areas you are exercising, so you can feel the muscle working."

Nadeau says facial exercises are better than full facelifts and Botox. She says surgical facelifts give women a "strange stretched look" and Botox does not address sagging, nor can it be used on cheeks and chins.

But Dr. Ariel Ostad, a New York dermatologist, disagrees that facial exercises are better than Botox. He says the two can complement each other. He encourages his patients to do facial exercises for the mid-portion of the face. But those exercises cannot reduce frown lines, laugh lines and crow's feet, he says.

"I am all for a spiritual holistic approach, but in this sense I think one doesn't supersede each other," he says. "I do think with proper exercise motion you can prevent your skin from sagging because you are strengthening your muscles, mainly muscles in the mid-portion of the face. But you can't prevent frown lines by doing just exercise."

Face yoga promises to reduce wrinkles without the pain of botox. (Conari Press)

Face yoga does help you become aware of your facial expressions and learn how to control and relax them, says Leta Koontz, who owns Schoolhouse Yoga in Pittsburgh. She teaches "Fresh Face Yoga" workshops.

"You see people who have that line between their eyebrows because they are anxious," she says, "They are using those muscles when they don't need to. That creates lines in their faces. A lot of times people frown a lot and get frown lines. If they start becoming aware of that, and change the way they hold their lips, they can retrain those muscles."

Nadeau, who resides in Berkeley, Calif., says she can see a difference in the faces of her facelift yoga students, who range in age from the 20s to the late 70s and are mostly women. Their skin is more toned, she says.

She says the exercises take five to 10 minutes and can be done anywhere.

"It's not like you have to go to the gym and raise a sweat," she says. "That's the nice part about this kind of exercise. There's also that whole adage about no pain, no gain. That's not true in facial exercises. If you're in pain, that's not what you want because it's going to show up in your face."

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