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Improve your mental health with face yoga

Life is overwhelming. Things can easily feel out of control. To cope, you may be paying pricey therapy sessions, treatment plans, possibly involving medications or…

...shoving down and hiding your problems from the world hoping for the best outcome.

What may be a great addition to your therapy sessions is something surprising: functional face yoga. You might have heard me say “No muscles left behind”. Yes muscles  in your face (just like muscles in your pelvis) need training. And training them may come with a pleasant bonus health benefit too! 

Muscle function in the face does more than just affecting how you look. The face is the first thing you notice on someone and whether or not you are aware of it we constantly scan others' facial expressions. When you meet someone for the first time or you have known them for a long time, their face gives you information (is this person safe, feels good, happy, worried..etc). All of this feedback loop from the environment to us and vica versa, forms our connection to our environment, informs us and SHAPES OUR REALITY. How does this all connect to the ability to feel good and happy with our lives? Those of us who struggle with mental health, we have to do the extra work to create a healthy and healing communication with our environment. If early childhood experiences taught us that the world is not safe and showing our feelings are not welcome, we shut down being afraid of abandonment, rejection or failure and we abandon our own needs in hopes of love. Many of these tendencies -often times subconsciously- rule and wreck our lives. Our mental health condition is connected to the health of our relationships; to our environment and to our own self! 

How does functional face yoga help heal this link? The key is in the nervous system. Functional face yoga, done with the right coaching (with the right breath, mental presence, exercising tool and orientation) stimulates the vagus nerve, the vagabond nerve that is responsible for downregulating our nervous system. When our body is stuck on a trauma loop, when we are wounded children living in adult bodies than we experience an ongoing stress response, life through the filter of our pain and dysregulated nervous system states.

We can heal. 

Good thing is that the nervous system is trainable! The nervous system of mammals work similarly to the humans'. Because we are mammals too! Creatures in the animal kingdom are good at showcasing the workings of the nervous system without the obstacle course of the complex emotional body. When animals sense danger they shift into fight or flight or freeze. In the moment of sudden perceived danger, the nervous system makes a quick decision, with the life saving goal. Run away, fight, or play dead. We do this too. On the other hand the ability to feel good, uptake, receive, feel nurtured, warm and fuzzy requires a regulated nervous system that can smoothly shift between upregulation and downregulation. Our ability to relax, like the ability to have presence to enjoy a sunset and feel present during other pleasant experience (like intimacy) require a regulated nervous system.

I really believe that facial self care routine should be a grooming process. Mammals habitually groom eachother. What they do, is they coregulate eachother. Our self care routine can be done as a self grooming self soothing activity! Through ‘self grooming’ we regulate our own nervous system. When we regulate, others we choose to share special moments with, we can coregulate and experience ventral vagal state that warm fuzzy relaxed state. So it is time to Slow down our self care routines, take time for, make it more focused and well connected.

Next time you apply moisturizer to your face or even apply foundation, add kindness to your next facial self care routine! Relate to yourself in a kind and caring way. Tell yourself kind words. Take a breath, slow down, notice what feels good. If you have a tendency to abandon your own needs, than taking care of yourself is an important habit to get into. Connection feels good and great shifts can happen from these subtle changes to your routine. Imagine the amazing benefits of training your facial and neck muscles with the intent to regulate your nervous system. You get the beauty points and mental health points too. 

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