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  • Writer's pictureKari

Befriending your face (and yourself!)

It can be challenging putting face yoga into our daily lives. This is partly due to the absence of face yoga from many of our cultures’ daily practices. The tides are beginning to shift as more people learn about the importance of keeping our faces fit and healthy. But this shift is often met with some resistance since we are not accustomed to doing these daily movements.

Embodied Resistance in the Face

Face yoga can be confronting at times. Idiosyncrasies we carry with us unconsciously start to surface. It’s common for buried emotions and past traumas to come up - emotional and physical. This is normal, healthy, and actually good for us. So long as we stay within our window of tolerability, this process is very healing.

When I began face yoga, there were times I found it hard to do it daily. Changing my resting tongue posture and practicing a tiny movement for weeks with little visible change felt daunting. After now doing face yoga consistently for a year and teaching for over 6 months, I’ve gained insights into what may have been going on for me when I was resisting doing it regularly...

"Once I learned how to massage my ‘11’, I started getting to know the area in a new way... I began questioning its origins"

Partly, I was holding onto an embodied resistance in my face. That resistance was physical - such as the myofascial adhesions preventing my eyebrows from fully relaxing. It was also emotional, like the chronic low-grade anxiety I unknowingly felt sitting in front of most screens. I never really noticed or even addressed the chronic nature of my anxiety. But it sure was making its presence known in the form of two little ‘11’ lines imprinted between my brows. Once I learned how to massage my ‘11’, I started getting to know the area in a new way.

And I began questioning its origins:

‘Where did these come from?... Do I even frown that much?’

I wasn’t even aware that I frowned much. Talk about being in a state of denial!

After taking my instructor’s advice to surround myself with mirrors while working, eating, etc, I began to notice I frowned a little bit nearly all the time. Especially in front of screens.

I can’t overstate how much the small but life-changing difference of no longer frowning most of the day has made for me. Being in that chronic state of low grade fear and confusion was wreaking havoc on my health. I would have never seen myself frowning that much without the two mirrors next to my desktop.

This was the beginning of many physical and emotional revelations. I started tuning in to my face, my daily behaviors, and emotional states. The new self-awareness led me to respond differently than before. Instead of frowning at my emails I tried to relax my brows. Initially, that felt impossible, so I began doing brow acupressure whilst checking my emails! And it worked.

Self-Attunement: tuning in to YOU

Eventually my ‘11’ subsided a lot and I frown much less now. I am not cured of my anxiety but I now notice it much sooner when it’s coming on. I take it more seriously since confronting the material impact this anxious state has on me, my face, and my body. This whole process of (1) tuning in to oneself, (2) noticing and accepting the state one finds themselves in, and (3) compassionately responding by taking one’s own needs into account is a process of self-attunement.

To be self-attuned is to practice self-awareness and self-acceptance of your emotional and physiological state. From that position of self-awareness and acceptance, we can respond to our needs compassionately - whatever state we may or may not find ourselves in. This process is a healing one for our bodies and our minds.

The alternative response - rejecting or denying our emotions and physiology - can cause frustration. This deepens the very tensions that we are trying to release.

It is imperative to observe and respond to ourselves rather than ignore and deny the (at times subtle) signals of emotional distress. Self-attunement is involved in other mindful practices too like yoga. In my view, the aesthetic benefits are really just a bonus. What keeps me here is that practicing self-attunement feels right and amazing!

Want to see what face yoga can really do you for? Join Kari every week for her live online face yoga classesand get real-time, face-to-face instruction, wherever you are in the world!

*Class recordings available upon request.

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