Movements Of The Jaw
by Buffy Owens
Ahhhhh….the jaw! This lesson is one of the lessons from a series of Jaw Lessons that I share in the BODY+BRAIN Membership. The title of this MP3 nugget of jaw moving goodness is “The Connections & Movements of The Jaw.” You see, I am almost positive that you know in your mind and mouth that the jaw has an impact on your teeth and other mouthy parts. But did you also know that the jaw and its movements play a pivotal role in balance — physically and emotionally?
The upper jaw, part of the cranium, connects most intimately with the spine and back of the body. Every movement the upper jaw makes reverberates through the spine. But we will explore that a bit more in another lesson.
The lower jaw (a.k.a. the mandible) connects most intimately with your body-core, rib basket, and sternum. See if you can imagine this glorious network of soft tissue that connects the jaw to the clavicle (a.k.a. collar bones), sternum (a.k.a. breastbone), hyoid bone, the upper two ribs, and so much more.
*If you are new to the Feldenkrais Method the please read this first >>
Now, remember, none of these parts exist as an island. For instance, the hyoid bone and the upper ribs utilize your vast tissue network connected to your cervical spine, shoulder blades, and more. All of this can have a direct impact on your breathing and head placement. …and that head placement is oh so very important to balance.
When your jaw joints are out of balance and/or the muscles are working hard (i.e. tight), your body attempts to compensate to maintain balance. The muscles in your head and neck that work together with jaw muscles will pull against each other and your bones — often resulting in an imbalance in the vertebrae of your neck. If you maintain this over time, this imbalance can be transferred down the spine into your back.
I could go on and on about the interweaving of tissue and movement. But instead, I am going have you take a quick look at the image below. It isn’t everything, but it is a good place to begin to see some of the parts that can be directly impacted by the jaw.
But what does the jaw have to do with emotions?
Your avenue of expression includes your jaw, tongue, throat, and the surrounding muscles and bones that play an intimate role in making faces and creating the sound necessary to communicate your thoughts and emotions. Freedom of physical movement in the jaw is your avenue of expression. Immobility is silence.
Just think about those moments when you are holding back saying something for one reason or another. I bet you purse your lips, clench your jaw a bit (or a lot), and press your tongue against the floor or roof of your mouth. Heck, this mighty grimace is even known as ‘biting your tongue’!
Or what about those moments when you are laughing hysterically. What is your jaw doing then? I bet it is as open and free as you are at the moment.