(NEW YORK) -- The world of yoga keeps stretching to new extremes. There’s aerial yoga, hot yoga and even karaoke yoga. Now, the latest craze is yoga for the face.
Instead of the downward dog or warrior poses of traditional yoga, this new trend involves contorting the face into a variety of expressions, including the “lion face,” “fish face” and “satchmo.”
Facial yoga is designed to be a natural, non-invasive alternative to the Botox, fillers and plastic surgery that Americans pay millions of dollars for every year, and its proponents claim the facial exercises can help keep people looking younger.
Facial yoga was developed by Annelise Hagen, of New York Yoga, who wrote a book on mastering what she calls the ultimate facelift. In an interview with ABC's Good Morning America, Hagen explained that there’s an actual technique to making the faces.
“If you just made weird squirmy faces randomly you’d get more wrinkles,” she said. “We’re trying to tone and lift the muscles of the face. It’s been scientifically proven that the muscular activity helps to prolong the production of collagen and elastin, which makes your face firm and springy.”
Hagen says facial yoga allows people to guide the way their face ages from the inside out.
Dr. Neil Sadick, who is the go-to dermatologist to some of the stars of The Real Housewives of New York, actually recommends yoga for the face to his patients, saying it promotes collagen production.
Face yoga stimulates muscles, Sadick said, adding that “although there’s not great science around it compared to other technologies like chemical peels or Botox, we know that by stimulating any component of your face like your muscles you’re going to have a beneficial effect in terms of your overall appearance.”
Jan O’Connell is a yoga and pilates instructor who’s now offering face yoga at Smart Workout in New York because she says the demand for it has increased tremendously.
“I think everyone has been saying that they feel more relaxed, a little more calm, also they’ll leave with a little bit of a rosy glow, maybe a little bit more of a lift in the eyes, and plus you have fun,” O’Connell told GMA. “You make a lot of funny faces at your neighbor or at yourself in the mirror. And we have a good time.”
The various faces have specific benefits. For example, the “fish face” firms the cheeks and lips, while the “bumblebee” affects the cheeks, lips and jaw. The “satchmo” targets the cheeks, and the lion face is supposed to stretch all the facial muscles and release tension, Hagen said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio