5 Care Tips: The Jaw
The jaw is one of the most common places for us to hold stress and tension. Tensing the jaw when we are angry or to avoid crying is common. Opening the jaw through massage or breathing techniques can sometimes allow for emotional release. Try these five care tips to open the jaw to relieve stress and release emotion.
1. Need to Say Something?
Sometimes jaw tension indicates that there is something that isn’t being said or an emotion that isn’t being expressed. If you ask your jaw what it’s trying to hold back for you, what comes up?
2. Tension Releaser
What is your jaw doing right now? Is it tense? Bring the tip of your tongue behind your two front teeth and allow your teeth to separate. This is a gentle way to hold your mouth so that your jaw can stay relaxed.
3. Self Massage
Bring two or three fingertips to the muscles just below your cheekbones at the top of your jaw. Press the fingers in gently and hold for 5–10 seconds while focusing on relaxing your jaw. Next, gently stroke the fingers down the face from the cheekbones, keeping your jaw slackened. Move slowly and gently, allowing the jaw muscles to relax as you go.
4. Connect with the Pelvic Floor
The jaw has an intimate relationship with the pelvic floor. When one is tight, the other tends to be as well. Sometimes issues in one area need to be addressed at the other end.
In order to explore this relationship, sit or lie down comfortably. Try to notice your pelvic floor, which is a net of muscles like a diaphragm or trampoline that surrounds your genitals and supports your pelvic organs. As you breathe in a relaxed way, it should gently descend as you inhale and softly lift as you exhale.
Now notice your soft palate at the back of your throat. Imagine lining it up with the pelvic floor so that the soft palate is the top and the pelvic floor is the bottom of a long soft balloon. Take some long, deep, conscious breaths, noticing this balloon expanding and relaxing. The soft palate won’t move the way the pelvic floor does, but you may notice their connection. As you soften your pelvic floor, see if your jaw responds as well. Then focus on your jaw and notice if your pelvic floor has a response.
5. Stretch It
Here’s a gentle stretch for your neck and jaw, which tend to work together in terms of holding tension. Sit comfortably on a small cushion and place your fingertips down on the floor to either side of you. Tuck in your chin slightly and bring your right ear down towards your right shoulder. Thing of relaxing the head rather than pulling down. From here, gently tilt the chin up, as if toward the right upper corner of the room, until you feel a stretch along and under your chin. Hold for five breaths, then repeat on the second side.
Notice how your jaw is involved in your posture. Time spent looking down at our phones and computers can force the jaw muscles to engage. Look up at the horizon and notice your jaw sliding back and gently releasing.
- by Julie Peters