Mo’ Yoga

March 29th, 2007at 06:50pm Posted by Eli

29yoga6502.jpg
Shiho Fukada / The New York Times

Another day, another fad that makes you look silly:

FOR a Friday evening, the small, intimate workout room at the New York Health & Racquet Club on East 57th Street was comfortably full. A dozen people sat, their chins pointed toward the ceiling, their lips puckered as if preparing for a kiss.

Later, they took their index and middle fingers and tapped their mouths five times, with the hope of increasing lip fullness and color. If done each day, they were told, it would be just as if they had been injected with collagen.

“The resistance is what firms the muscles,” Annelise Hagen, the teacher, said of Revita-Yoga, which combines yoga and facial exercises and is billed as a way to combat frown lines, wrinkles and sagging. “Each pose, stretch or exercise is designed to relax the muscles and release the patterns people unconsciously etch into their skin.”

Want to sculpture and narrow your nose? Alternate breathing out of each nostril, Revita-Yoga teaches. Have crow’s-feet? Open the eyes wide to smooth the lines. As pale as the winter sky? A dose of downward dog can add color to the complexion while oxygenating the skin.

In an era when aging is treated as a disease and yoga is often touted as a cure-all, it is hardly surprising to see people combining the two. Classes are sprouting up all over the United States and so are books, marketed to the portion of the population that wants the benefits of the knife and the needle without the costs or the risks.

That it works is unlikely, say doctors who specialize in skin or facial physiology. But it does relax practitioners while playing into their desire to do something about perceived flaws in their skin.

“People want a healthy alternative to looking good without artificial substance,” said Ms. Hagen, a former actress whose book, “The Yoga Face,” is to be published this August by Avery, the health and wellness division of Penguin. “And they want to be in control of their appearance rather than relegating it to an authority. I’m teaching my students to consciously release muscles rather than paralyzing them, which is what Botox does.”

Okay, I can buy that maybe carefully crafted exercises might be able to tone and tighten the facial muscles (for whatever that’s worth), but I don’t think any kind of exercise is going to do much of anything for the skin, which is not a muscle. On the other hand, even if it’s complete hooey, if it keeps people off the Botox and collagen and plastic surgery, it’s performing a public service.

Entry Filed under: Weirdness


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