Facial yoga is not new in the beauty field. In fact, also dubbed 'facercise', it has had a presence in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries where people's faces were studied to diagnose personality and wellbeing, notes the Guardian.

Certain exercises that scrunch the face are also known to release emotional tension and are powerful tools in delaying the signs of ageing.

This article by Reader's Digest indicates that if done correctly, it can possibly be a substitute to cosmetic surgery. Hmm... 

The practice of toning the facial contours through this method of exercise is said to stimulate blood circulation and help firm sagging muscles.

Could facial yoga be the secret behind Jennifer Aniston's glow? After all, she's been reported to be a facial yoga enthusiast.

Read more: How one woman turned a hobby into a skincare range South African women can't get enough of

We chatted to the Art of Living's advanced yoga, breathing and meditation teacher, Mukesh Vassen about how it works.

So, what exactly is it?

Facial exercises or poses have been designed to tone facial muscles including the jaw, mouth, eyes and forehead.

Best done in the morning for 10-15 minutes they can help you look and feel more energised throughout the day.

The Art of Living, where Mukesh Vassen teaches Hatha Yoga, includes Sukshma Yoga for the face.

It is also known as Subtle Yoga. Sukshma yoga opens the subtle energy channels in the brain and the whole body and has a profound effect on the nervous system – it improves memory and releases stress.

What are its benefits?

It may improve the production of collagen, increase blood circulation to the face and help reduce wrinkles. There are specific poses for crows feet, puffy eyes, etc. Blood circulation results in a clear, healthy complexion with a healthy skin. 

Is it true that facial exercises can actually cause wrinkles and expression lines?

Apart from environmental factors like pollution and the sun, stress causes ageing at the cellular level and this shows in the face especially.

Also, we all know that the facial expressions used by stressed people e.g. frowning, uses a lot less muscles than smiling.

If you don't drink water, drink plenty of alcohol, have an unhealthy diet and you don't exercise, it's really not going to be effective

Strong emotions, like anger, physically damages the tissue in the body. Not only do the specific exercises make the skin more flexible, it also decreases stress.

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Exercises:

The more you do it every day, the quicker you will see results. However, Vassen also stresses that exercising facial yoga while following a bad diet negates the positive effects.

While you can minimise the onset or reduce furrowed brows and drooping eyelids, your lifestyle is important. 

"You need to put facial yoga in context. You can't massage your face and then be totally unhealthy and expect the change.

"If you don't drink water, drink plenty of alcohol, have an unhealthy diet and you don't exercise, it's really not going to be effective," he says.    

1. Surprised

Open your eyes as wide as you can, but be careful not to furrow your forehead. Do this for twenty seconds.

What it does: Reduces the appearances of wrinkles, crow's feet and puffiness.

2. Accupressure points

Place your index fingers between your eyebrows and press on that point while circling in a clockwise direction. After 10 seconds, rotate anti-clockwise.

What it does: Pressure on this point will increase circulation to this area and can also be done to reduce stress and help you to sleep better.

3. Sleepy

Lower your eyebrows and eyes by looking far downwards. Avoid bending your neck.

What it does: Smooths forehead wrinkles.

4. Pinch - eyebrow area

Hold your eyebrows with your fingers such that you can pull and gently pinch the eyebrows from the centre towards the end of the eyebrows. Repeat 8-10 times.

What it does: Relieves stress from your eyebrow area.

5. Owl face

Position your fingers on your brow bone and just above your cheekbones. Keep your eyes fully open, then close them and open them as wide as you can.

What it does: Reduces puffiness and dark circles.

6. The Marilyn

Pucker your mouth as if you are about to kiss something, then release and smile as wide as you can.

What it does: Because it involves the facial muscles when smiling, it will tone your skin and improve its elastin.

7. Big smile

Say "smiiiiiiile" in an exaggerated fashion, lifting the corners of the lips as you exhale, then relax.

What it does: Tones the neck.

8. Pinch - bottom face area

Using your middle and index fingers and your thumbs, pinch and release the bottom of your chin all the way up to your jawline, finishing off with the earlobe area. 

What it does: This helps to lift and tone and releases tension in the jaw area.

Remember, you should be consistent with these exercises and incorporate them with a healthy lifestyle and a good overall skincare routine.

Sources: Art of Living and Payot