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Yoga exercises keep mouth, cheek and brow toned

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

By Katy Buchanan, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Smiling Buddha. Mouth mobilizer. Sleeping yogi. Or how about a Jim Carrey?

The face gets an extra boost from increased circulation when the exercises are done in an inverted position. Don't worry if you're not flexible enough for this -- the exercises are adjusted to suit each individual. (Andy Starnes, Post-Gazette photos)
Slightly sagging boomers without the wherewithal, or the desire, to spend large sums on medical intervention against their wrinkles now have an alternative here in Pittsburgh.

It's called Fresh Face Yoga, a series of toning and strenghtening exercises for the muscles of your face devised by Suzanne Kahley, a registered nurse who has been practicing yoga for 30 years.

Some of the names may sound a little goofy and, in fact, Kahley's Fresh Face workshops at Schoolhouse Yoga in the Strip District usually feature plenty of laughter as students twist and stretch their faces into unaccustomed positions. But there is a practical, down-to-earth component to the classes: Improved circulation and muscle tone play a part in keeping wrinkles at bay, and the yoga exercises themselves foster a sense of well-being that helps inner beauty shine out.

"Yoga is designed to touch every muscle in your body," says Kahley, 51, of Fox Chapel. "But what I realized was that it wasn't affecting my face."

Leta Koontz-Stuyvesant of Schoolhouse Yoga demonstrates some of Suzanne Kahley's Fresh Face exercises: Lion, smiling Buddha, sleeping yogi and wide eyes. (Andy Starnes, Post-Gazette)

Kahley researched facial exercises programs, including the popular Facercise series developed by author Carol Maggio, and selected from among them several to plug into the yoga concept.

After a year of practicing, Kahley began offering her workshops this year. Because some students may not have the flexibility to stretch their bodies into more demanding yoga poses, Kahley modifies them to fit individual ability.

There is another advantage to incorporating these facial exercises into a broader regimen, says Kahley, who also teaches meditation and yoga at Body Tech in Aspinwall.

"The likelihood, to me, of people sitting in chairs and keeping up face exercises is low. Whereas if you combine them with your yoga regimen, you have motivation to continue them."

So what is the Jim Carrey? Imagine trying to duplicate the rubber-faced actor's flashing grin, teeth bared and cheeks pulled in, and you get the idea.

The exercises are designed to cultivate a lasting sense of well-being and beauty.

"It's maximizing what nature gave us," says Kahley, without anything artificial about it."

The next Fresh Face Yoga workshop is scheduled for May 17 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Schoolhouse Yoga, 3052 Smallman St., Strip District. Cost is $20. Call Schoolhouse Yoga at 412-401-4444 or visit www.schoolhouseyoga.com

Katy Buchanan can be reached at kbuchanan@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1523.

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