Yoga for the Face: How to Release Tension in Your Jaw
One of the most profound ways to release stress is to let go of tension in the muscles and nerves of your face.
I created this video to demonstrate a yoga technique I have been teaching over the past 25 years that allows you to re-set the 42 muscles in your face.
This is a restorative version of sphinx pose.
Here’s what you do:
- Lie on the ground.
- Fold your right thumb inside the palm of your right hand.
- Put your right hand in the middle of your body.
- Place your left hand on top of the right hand, knuckles facing upwards.
- Turn your head to the left.
- Nestle the knuckles of your left hand inside your right jaw.
- Rest in that position at least 60 seconds. While you are there, feel yourself breathing deeply into your belly.
- After 60 seconds repeat on the left side.
As Sigmund Freud said, “Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”
You hold a tremendous amount of unexpressed feelings in your face – think of all the things you would like to say but don’t because you are trying to be nice, not wanting to hurt anybody or because you simply haven’t found a productive way to release all that suppressed energy.
This exercise works specifically on your masseter and buccinator muscles which help you chew and move your jaw.
The most important organ in your body is your brain – for obvious reasons.
The second most important organ is actually your jaw because if you can’t eat you will die.
In addition to the 42 muscles in your face, you have significant nerve junctions in and around your jaw, including your trigeminal and vagus nerves.
Symptoms of tension and pain in your jaw may include:
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Clenching your teeth
- Pain in your face
- Aching around your ears
- Clicking when you open and close your mouth
- Grinding your teeth
- Facial tics
- Facial tingling
- TMJ (Temporomandibular joint) dysfunction
- Eye pain
- Eating disorders
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Imbalance between the right and left side of your jaw
In my healing work, I clear defensive jaw, which is a syndrome where you have locked so much buried emotion in your face that the tension affects you every time you open your mouth, close your mouth, talk or grit your teeth.
Even if you are not aware of tension in your face, when you perform this simple restorative yoga exercise you may discover yourself feeling more deeply relaxed than before.
The first few times you do it you may experience what I refer to as a “hurt good” feeling.
Over time as you include this pose in your personal practice your face will soften and the pain will go away.
When you breathe into your belly you access your parasympathetic nervous system.
Because this exercise is performed lying on the ground, you can feel the natural rise and fall of your inhalation and exhalation.
If you are suffering from tremendous jaw pain, just keep repeating the exercise spending equal amounts of time on both sides of your face.
I created this video to assist a client who contracted Cushing’s disease, which had the unfortunate side effect of changing the shape of her face.
By consciously relaxing your face and body, you bring your stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol back into balance, thereby at least temporarily shutting down the destructive effects on your hormonal system.
The effects of uncontrolled cortisol and adrenalin on your mind and body of course go well beyond what they do to your face.
Too often when clients ask me about why they are unable to lose weight, I find myself pointing out they are in total adrenal burnout and recommending therapeutic rest.
That’s why I wrote my book Unlimited Energy Now. So many people have been so stressed for so long they have damaged their metabolism and need to restore their adrenals to be able to lose weight and keep it off for good.
This recommendation to rest is sometimes met with howls of protest as the prevailing belief remains that to lose weight you must starve your body and/or over exercise.
Restorative yoga poses such as this one can be part of an incredibly helpful personal practice to interrupt the pattern of uncontrolled stress and increase your personal chi.
I also find that clients suffering from eating disorders suffer from the same degree of tension in their face and are eating to calm the amygdala in their brain and get out of the fight or flight response.
By taking the time to release tension way down deep, shut off the overflow of stress hormones and balance your nervous system you can begin to heal your metabolism.
Even if you are not suffering from any current medical problems, performing this yoga exercise for your face may bring you into a deeper state of relaxation than you have been able to attain with other poses.
Don’t just grit your teeth, hold your breath and force your way through life – soften into your experience, knowing you can go through the exact same challenges feeling wonderful.
What is healing? Healing happens when you release tension in your face.
To set up an appointment for a medical intuitive reading or healing work, please email catherine@catherinecarrigan or call 678-612-8816. If you are calling internationally, please call me at the same number through WhatsApp so I can return your call toll free!
I’ve taught yoga for 25 years. You can now join our yoga classes online through Zoom. Please email catherine@catherinecarrigan or call 678-612-8816 if you would like more information about how you can join us to practice yoga from anywhere in the world.