A lot of people experience neck pain, jaw pain, tooth pain, headaches and TMJ dysfunction when they simply do not have to. Often times our aches and pains are a result of unnecessary tension in our muscles, or from faulty movement patterns. After a period of time, these habitual patterns can cause excruciating pain, joint dysfunction and joint destruction. Not only can the pain make you miserable, it can become debilitating and incapacitating, resulting in a diminished quality of life. However, you can interrupt the harmful patterns by introducing new ones. Would you like to learn how? Try this simple but highly effective movement exploration based on The Feldenkrais Method®.
1) Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent, or place a large pillow under your knees to eliminate stress on your low back. In The Feldenkrais Method® it is important to make yourself comfortable so your nervous system can integrate the new patterns it is experiencing with the movement lesson. In the spirit of making yourself comfortable, you may need to support your head with a folded towel. Don’t use a pillow, it is too soft to provide your nervous system with the appropriate feedback (proprioception).
- Take a few minutes to relax, take a few deep breaths, and feel your weight gently sink into the floor.
- Bring your attention to your face, neck and jaw. Does your neck feel tight? Does your mouth or the muscles of your face feel tense? Are your teeth touching?
- Don’t try to change or “fix” anything, and don’t place any judgement on what you are sensing. Instead, be aware of what you are feeling and sensing in your face, jaw and neck.
- Stop and rest your attention for a few moments.
It may sound strange to “rest” when you probably feel like you have not done anything yet, but it is important to rest your attention to give your nervous system time to process the information you are sending it.
2) Once again bring your attention to your face, neck and jaw.
- Slowly begin to open and close your mouth in a very small and easy range of motion. Do not open your mouth all the way, and do not let your teeth touch as you close it. Stop and rest.
- Continue to open and close your mouth by making the movement even smaller and slower. Make it small, smooth, soft and easy. Stop and rest with your mouth gently closed without your teeth touching.
- Continue the gentle movement of opening and closing your mouth in a smooth, continuous, rhythmical way. Stop and rest.
3) Gently open your mouth in an easy range of motion, and in a position where you feel no sense of stress, strain, or discomfort.
- Gently take your lower jaw a little to the left in a comfortable position. Again, slowly and rhythmically open and close your mouth while leaving your jaw to the left. Do not allow your teeth to come together. Pay attention to the joint of your jaw, which is located just in front of the opening of your ear. If you hear a clicking of your jaw, or you experience and pain or discomfort, make smaller and smaller movements until you find a range of movement that is comfortable for you. Stop and rest.
4) Again, open your mouth in an easy and comfortable range of motion and gently take your lower jaw a little to the right.
- Open and close your mouth in a comfortable range of motion while leaving your jaw to the right. You may want to take a moment to compare the 2 sides of your jaw and how they move. Often times, one side moves easier than the other. If you hear a clicking of your jaw, or you experience and pain or discomfort, make smaller and smaller movements until you find a range of movement that is comfortable for you. Stop and rest.
5) One last time, return to just opening and closing your jaw as you did at the beginning of this movement exploration.
- Notice the sensations in your face, neck and jaw now. Notice the quality of the movement as compared to when you first began this movement exploration? Stop and rest. Give yourself a few moments before you slowly bring yourself to sitting and eventually to standing. Take a brief walk around the room before you continue with your day.
This simple movement lesson will help increase your awareness and help you identify when you are holding excess tension in your face and jaw, allowing you to interrupt these patterns and let new patterns emerge. This simple movement exploration will help you unlock your jaw, relax your neck and shoulders, and can be done anytime you may be feeling stressed. It can also help you fall asleep more easily if you have occasional insomnia. Discover The Feldenkrais Method® and learn how to decrease aches and pains, improve the quality of your movement and the quality of your life!