I've had my fair share of alternative healing practices like cupping done in the past. Even though cupping leaves funny, somewhat creepy marks on my back, cupping offers a lot of relief in my back and neck, especially when I'm dealing with pain or discomfort from my scoliosis. But one thing I've never tried is face cupping.
If you've never had cupping done before, it's an ancient practice that uses a cupping tool to create suction on the skin by literally sucking up air into the cup (sometimes heat or fire is used, but I've never done that before), which reduces inflammation and aids in circulation. It's often used in conjunction with deep tissue massage or acupuncture, and it's extremely relaxing. While I was at the Nine For Women Wellness retreat, I got my first session of face cupping done with massage therapist and visual artist Lara Plecas. I have to admit, I was freaked out by the idea of having some foreign tool on my face, suctioning up my skin. I was nervous I was going to walk out with hideous hickeys on my face or the tool would accidentally suck too hard on my mouth and leave me with a swollen, busted-looking lip. Also, I was just plain afraid it would hurt!
But Lara made me feel really comfortable, and I was feeling reassured after seeing a friend come out of the massage room with a natural glow on her face. It looked as if she just had a facial! When I lay down on the table, Lara explained to me why cupping is so great for the face.
"It removes metabolic waste," Lara told me. That means it brings toxins to the surface of the skin and suctions them out. "It gives the skin a natural glow and improves blood circulation." I was still a little apprehensive, especially after seeing all the cupping tools laying on the table like some kind of science experiment, but I just lay down and let Lara work her magic.
She started cupping along my jawline, and it felt absolutely divine. My jaw tends to hold a lot of tension, particularly when I'm stressed out. I also recently learned from my husband that I sometimes grind my teeth at night, so I know there's a lot of pent-up tension in that whole region. Lara did little individual suctions on my jawline that lasted about one second each, then did one long suction along the same line that lasted a couple seconds. She continued that pattern along each section of my face, lingering on some particularly tight spots, like in between my eyebrows. I swear my eyes rolled into the back of my head. For the record, it doesn't hurt at all. In fact, it was one of the best, most delicious feelings in the world.
It felt amazing when she cupped my cheeks and forehead, particularly around my eyebrows. I didn't realize how much I clench my forehead when I'm deep in thought. The whole process only took 15 minutes, but it was one of the best treatments I've ever had done. Not only did my face have a gorgeous glow after it was over, but I felt way less stressed. Lara encouraged me to drink a lot of water and chill out for the rest of the day. I promptly went to my room and took the best nap of my life.
That feeling of rest and relaxation followed me around for the rest of the day. I found that I wasn't clenching my jaw as much, and I felt much less anxious in social situations. And later that night, I slept like a baby. I wish I could get my face cupped every single day after work, but knowing that's not a possibility, I can at least schedule a session every now and then when I'm in need of some stress relief. And I highly suggest you do the same.