And there I was thinking the downward dog was all about my butt. Or my back. Or, in my more zen moments, my mind. But if the new buzz in the age-fighting biz can be believed, it's about crow's feet too. Yep, forget Botox and even faux-tox; the latest thing is what I'm calling Yotox - yoga as an anti-wrinkle weapon.
So, in the spirit of research (and reclaiming my pre-25 tautness), I've been pulling my Satchmo, Sphinx Smile and Monroe moves for a few months...
I first read about facial yoga in The New York Times late last year. A Manhattan yoga teacher called Annelise Hagan had begun giving facial yoga sessions to her well-heeled-but-weathered students, penned a catchily-titled book, The Yoga Face: Eliminate Wrinkles with the Ultimate Natural Facelift, and, unsurprisingly, sparked the newest skincare trend. Everyone in the US was on board. But I just didn't get it.
Oh, the theory was simple enough: the face has a network of muscles, which, like any other in the body, can become pent up with stress and saggy with age. By striking a series of yogic poses, you can release tension, 'unlearn' the habitual crinkling that leads to wrinkling and tone up. Hardly a revelation, it sounded a lot like the facial exercises my glamorous gran used to tell me about, only hipper.
But here's what I didn't get about smiling without furrowing your eyes to deal with 'sad' mouths and crow's feet (that's the Sphinx Smile): a) what about laugh lines? and b) even if you can 'retrain' your sagging muscles by relaxing them, how does that repair the fragile, loose skin stretched over the top?
Obviously, I wasn't the only one asking questions. Dermatologists and skin surgeons couldn't see how simple stretches could really reverse a wrinkle; that's just not how skin works.
Still, I decided to give it a shot. And I've been diligently making kissy faces in the mirror to plump my pout (the Monroe), puffing my cheeks (Satchmo) to keep them tight and doing whatever I could for crow's feet since. The verdict: sigh. My brow's no less lined, my lips no lusher (though the increased circulation boosts them for a bit) and my eye cream's still absolutely essential. Though looking so silly is a fabulous way to unwind.
Which might just make a few facial flexes and stretchy smiles worth it anyway. Who doesn't need to be reminded to relax? Worry really does give you wrinkles...