“My Story” – Yoga for the Face or Face-lift Through Exercise

(A meditators quest to a more youthful-looking face)
by Carolyn Cleaves

 

Here I was, 52 years old and a long-time meditator and I took a good look in the mirror and to my total dismay—gravity was well at work! Since I was 19 years old I’d eaten organic foods, taken supplements, gone through natural childbirth with my son and practiced Yoga at least three times a week. I even meditate on a regular basis. And! When I looked into the mirror, in my early fifties, I saw deep lines in my forehead, crows feet that testified to lots of laughter in my life (at least I could acknowledge that part!), hanging jowls, lines around my lips and rings around my neck. HELP! It seems that vanity was alive and well, thriving in me, too!

I confess! I found myself on a quest to “correcting” (what a great word!) the ravishes of time showing up as wrinkles and bags on my face and neck. Surgery was not a consideration for me—no, no! My beautiful mother at age 65 looked permanently surprised from too many face-lifts. Besides, I’m the “organic” type.  What to do? I was on a search to look younger—some how—some way, naturally!

First I bought the electronic gadgets. I found myself holding this one contraption to my face for an hour a day—getting little electric jolts to the muscles in my face. Well, I lasted five days. I understand staying even this long with such a device was some kind of record. No way was I going to spend so much time doing this! Besides, my arms were also getting tired holding this “thing” to my face!

Next, yes I did (shame on me!) I bought the electronic mask!  Another 45 minute a day regime. Forget it. I found that I wouldn’t spend the time doing this either. Besides, the results were really not forthcoming. I looked just as “baggy” and tired as ever. Sigh…There just had to be another alternative to isometrics and electric shocks! I then discovered face exercises. Yes! To make a long story short, I ended up buying about a dozen programs offered on the market at the time. These programs I discovered to my dismay, were either too long, too short, incomplete, incompetent or they also took 40 minutes a day. However, some of these exercises were showing results on my face.

I discovered the old belief that touching or rubbing your face caused wrinkles was false. Actually, I had stumbled upon muscle resistance training for the face. This made sense to me. After all everybody knows that through exercising in a gym or through doing Yoga, you can firm up the body and skin.  Naturally, the same could be true about the muscles and skin on the face?! I was about to find out for sure!

Since I’m a teacher at heart (I taught school for years!) I developed my own program and I got amazing results.  My wrinkles flattened out and then disappeared. The muscles in my face got bigger and created lift, giving me the appearance of youth. The papery skin under my eyes and on my neck smoothed out and became firm. The rings around my neck completely disappeared. The lines around my mouth were evaporating. I had my young, plump lips back! My upper eyelids were showing, again. In short! My exercises were working.  I was regaining that youthful, dynamic look I had when I was young!

The next thing I knew, all my girlfriends wanted to know what I was doing to look so good. I told them and my workshops were born.

Okay. Okay. I knew from past experience I wasn’t going to spend 40 minutes a day on this stuff, no matter how young it made me look. So, I consulted my long-time family doctor and with his help, I developed a program that covered all 57 muscles in the face and neck in a 15-minute session.

I admit it. I have a bit of a perfectionist residing in me! It took me three years to perfect this facial exercise program.  As I worked on the exercises I found I got sick of counting and trying to remember everything. So, I made cassette tapes at first and CDs and digital downloads, that teach, pace and count for me. Maybe I’m a lazy perfectionist? Sigh…

Then the problem came up when to do these exercises? All the old programs I’d tried before suggested doing five exercises in the morning before your shower, five more at lunch and ten more at bedtime. Egads! Not only could I not remember what exercise I did last, I forgot to do them at all. So, I decided to solve this problem. After all, as strange as it may sound, I knew I had to DO these exercises to have the results I wanted!

In the end I’d designed 28 exercises that completely firm-up the face and neck—and I’d fit them all into a 15-minute session. The session is also done lying down. I am lazy!!! Now I set my alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual in the morning, turn on my CD and my voice guides me through the exercises. No more remembering what comes next. No more counting… It’s all done for me! Plus! My face is almost “addicted” to the glorious massage and Yoga antics it gets put through in the mornings. What a beautiful and relaxing way to wake-up. On top of it all, I’ve done all I need to do to have a younger more youthful-looking face. I don’t have to think about it again for the rest of the day!

As my program developed, I found that I had to make flashcards for my workshops. Now I’ve even made photo-illustrated cards so my clients can easily see how each handhold is done correctly and conveniently. I have an easy to follow workbook and lots of other material all about beauty (I had worked as a photographer and runway model when I was younger, too, so I had a good idea about the world of beauty). Add to this my three CDs for easy learning, well once a schoolteacher, always a schoolteacher. I know how people learn, so I had a big advantage, I could put together a great package for learning the exercises!

So, I found myself giving workshops on a regular basis. Next, my girlfriend from Hawaii called. She had read an article I’d written and wanted to do my program, but couldn’t attend my workshop. My “Self-learning, Take-home Kits” were born. These are comprehensive packages with everything you need to learn the exercises on your own. It’s so amazing how existence seems to keep rewarding me when I do something I love! My next step is to make a DVD and now onto the digital, as well.  My business is growing leaps and bounds and I’m loving every minute of it!

All right, I admit it. I’m vain. My whole life devoted to meditation and here I am exercising my face to look younger. So, I am “watching/meditating” on a younger-looking face, as well. Thank you life!

Published in “Body Mind Spirit” magazine, March 2005.