Yoga is to build up a body for longer deeper meditation. A strong healthy resilient body vehicle reflects and ensures optimal energy flow. And that includes to our face. Did you wake up January 1 and wondered who that person in the mirror is?
Over the years, our worry, anxiety, and concentration can be etched into our face from our habitual expressions. In The Yoga Face Annelise Hagen shares how she rejuvenated her facial tone – and transformed her attitude towards aging. Here we will share how to choose your asanas based on the four elements. Each element addresses a common effect of facial aging – loss of tone, wrinkles, colour, and dry skin.
The Four Elements & Four Skin Conditions
Plumpers & Firmers
|The Earth Element draws on the regenerative energy of the earth. This increases strength, vitality, and life force. Corresponding to the root chakra, this element is related to the physical.||The Water Element includes the regulation of the body’s fluids. This means reducing bloating and puffiness and hydrating dry areas.|
Detoxifers & Heaters
|The Air Element is associated with the life force and prana. Yoga poses in this element help to move energy trapped below the neck. Increased circulation also comes from helping the lungs receive and distribute more oxygen.||The Fire Element poses detoxify through their healing properties. The heat burns off stale energy and listlessness, improves metabolism, and enhances facial radiance.|
Yoga Asanas by Element
To enjoy the benefits of these poses and in your everyday life, be mindful to:
- consciously relax your face
- keep your mouth in a neutral position or a smile
- unclench your jaw
- relax your tongue and part your teeth
- at the end of your exhale, when releasing facial tension, make an aaah sound
If you have an injury, past or present, high blood pressure or are pregnant, best to consult your health practitioner especially if you are new to yoga. It is always ideal to start an exercise or movement program before becoming pregnant though your physical and emotional wellbeing during a pregnancy can be enhanced. The poses shared below can be modified; it’s best not to start inversions when pregnant.
The Earth Element/Green
The yoga poses in this element are balancing and standing ones. These are a good practice to stay serene and focused, keeping the face relaxed when challenged.
- Mountain Pose
- Warrior 1 & 2
- Tree Pose
- Crow Pose
The Water Element/Blue
The yoga poses in this element are contemplative ones as well as forward bends and hip openers. The Water Element corresponds to Winter and death and so included here is savasana or the corpse pose, one for super relaxation. Contemplative poses are a practice to disengage our habits of muscular gripping. Poses such as the Child’s Pose increase circulation with the head being lower than the heart. Hip openers release suppressed emotions, and with exhaling an aaaa sound, we also help tensions come out from the face.
- Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
- Child’s Pose
- Seated Forward Bend
- Pigeon Pose
- Corpse Pose
The Air Element/Silver
The yoga poses in this element are inversions. Being physically upside gives us a different perspective and can help us to let go of any fixed ideas that are holding us back. Inversions oxygenate the brain and face. This increased circulation means a nice glow and plumps up our face. (Caution/avoid for people with high blood pressure and those who are pregnant.)
- Plow Pose
- Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
- Downward Dog
The Fire Element/Red
The yoga poses in this element are back bends and twists. Fire burns away toxins, boosts metabolism, and lessens lethargy. In her book, Annelise Hagen calls back bends “antidepressants” because they “release tight hip flexors involuntarily clenched in fear or worry”, are stimulating, and work as a facelift. Twists are detoxifiers, through working on the internal organs.
- Locust Pose
- Bridge Pose
- Camel Pose
- Seated Spinal Twist
- Supine Twist
Annelise Hagen’s hope for The Yoga Face is to provide healthier ways for people to reflect outward an inner contentment. She noticed that many of her yoga peers, while teaching acceptance and non-attachment, felt pressured to turn to cosmetic procedures that are costly and damaging. For her, something wasn’t adding up.
Her book includes many “traditional” yoga poses many of us are familiar with, along with facial exercises and ways to unclench the jaw. Be sure to check out the chapter with a suggested sequence for each element.
Learning or re-thinking yoga can support us in building a resilient and strong body and learn how to naturally release tensions from face and body.