CAN A JAPANESE FACIAL MASSAGE REALLY RUB OUT WRINKLES WHILE HARMONISING YOUR BODY AND SOUL?

by Kris McIntyre

SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (BODY + SOUL), AUGUST 2003

The brochure about facial harmony promises me a blissful journey from head to toe. My guide on this journey is Japanese-born yoga teacher and shiatsu practitioner, Fumi Yamamoto. Dressed in white and lavender with a face that radiates a happy healthiness, Yamamoto immediately exudes a sense of calm befitting someone experienced in the art of healing. But she tells me this hasn’t always been the case.

I don’t need makeup any more! Yamamoto boasts and I squirm in jealous awe of her flawless complexion that glows without a skerrick of makeup. Yamamoto asks me to lie down on a shiatsu futon and kneels beside me, placing her hand on my lower belly. She instructs me through a round of abdominal breathing exercises to calm me before doing a shiatsu diagnosis of my ‘hara’ (abdomen).

Just as I am starting to wonder what my hara has to do with my face,Yamamoto starts to explain that she likes to get an overall sense of what’s going on both physically and emotionally. Life challenges us and the stress, unexpressed emotions and painfulexperiences often remain in our face and body. You may have noticed the mental or physical state of a person by simply looking Facial harmony is a gentle yet powerful massage technique that releases the stress locked in the muscles of the face, head and neck through a soft rhythmical touch. Yamamoto draws on her knowledge of healing techniques including Zen Shiatsu, reflexology, kinesiology and yoga as part of her treatments. Most of my clients come to me initially for beauty effects, but they soon realise the benefits are not just skin deep, Yamamoto tells me as she starts to work her fingertips in tiny rhythmical circles over my forehead and the entire surface of one side of my face. No products or equipment are used, no bright lights or lectures about the sorry state of my skin. Phew! This feels better than any facial I’ve ever had. I start to wonder off into a meditative lull feeling a release of energy like rain falling throughout my body. I am completely relaxed.

I’m almost about to nod off when Yamamoto asks if I’d like to see the changes in my face. At this stage she has worked over only half of my face so the comparison between the face I came with and the face I’ll leave with is apparent. She holds a mirror up and I’m amazed. Lines on my forehead and around my eyes have softened and I have defined cheekbones.

As I squeal in delight at my natural facelift, Yamamoto explains the joy she gets from seeing her clients starting to notice their faces.

Although facial harmony can’t change the shape of a face, it does bring it back into it’s natural balanced state. The touch stimulates the connective tissue of the face, where collagen and elastic fibres are stored. It relaxes the nervous system to improve blood supply and lymphatic flow, removing harmful cellular waste products.

The end result is an ‘uplift’ as the muscle layers move freely to support each other and the skin with improved muscle tone and shape, skin texture and colour.

Best results are achieved over a series of seven treatments spaced a week in between. The space between visits gives clients space to observe changes in their face and in their life and they release old emotions and blockages in the body. Yamamoto encourages her clients to keep a journal throughout the process to increase their self-awareness. Yamamoto works the other side of my face, massages my neck and shoulders and then finishes off with reflexology on my feet. Yes, this is bliss from head to toe! My treatment ends with some corrective yoga and food advice so I can keep my new face.

Seeing yourself differently helps you see your life differently, Yamamoto says. So life’s challenges become tiny stepping stones instead of obstacles to you having the life you want.