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Deep Dive:

Jaw, Neck, and Shoulders

Our Deep Dives gather standalone Feldenkrais Project lessons into themed courses of study. Newcomers, we recommend exploring our primary collections first for a more generalized intro to Feldenkrais.


I have TMJ pain and my neck and shoulders carry a huge amount of tension. As I get older, this tension is becoming more of a problem. I really appreciate this lesson and I hope there are many more sessions on relaxing the jaw and the release of tension in the neck and shoulders.

- Lori, commenting on lesson 2

Lori's comment lands close to home for me. At times in my life I too have been stuck in a state we all know: jaw tight, head pulled forward, neck rigid, shoulders rounded, eyes fixed, breath held.

My troubles started in my teens. As a tall, self-conscious kid I developed patterns of shortening and withdrawing myself. At the same time I practiced hours of piano every day in an unhealthy way, bent over the keyboard, staring at the sheet music.

Now, as a Feldenkrais Practitioner, I see similar problems everywhere. Modern life keeps us oriented forward and down too often, in fixed positions for too long. The biggest culprit may be the hours we spend wrapped around phones and laptops. On top of those biomechanical challenges, everyday stressors and fears generate an anxiety pattern that compresses us, tightening the jaw, neck, shoulders, eyes, and breath.

My own Feldenkrais study, integrated into these lessons, still helps me whenever I need to reclaim length and ease, or release anxiety and pain.

The lessons are deeply interrelated, with ideas introduced, refined, and referenced later. They are intended to be done in sequence. We recommend a pace of one or two per week minimum, one or two per day at most.

The course starts very simply, but if working with your jaw for most of a lesson isn't yet comfortable for you, you might start with the second box, then try the first box again.

- Nick Strauss-Klein

Lessons 1, 2, and 5 are free, but to access lessons marked "Patrons" you’ll need to join the Feldenkrais Project (or sign in when you click them) as a Patron-level donor. Click to learn more about donation or our donor benefits.

Releasing Jaw & Neck Tension

Progressive lessons teach you to sense, relax, and rebuild habits... and breathe

1)  Relaxing Your Neck and Jaw (39 min)
Link simple mouth and neck movements with your whole self

May be the most relaxing lesson I’ve done.

Amazing how so little can do so much!

2)  Easing the Jaw, Neck, and Shoulders
This classic is one of our most popular lessons

For me it feels like the jaw is some kind of “key” to relax the whole body and to break the tension circles.

After a first listening, Patron-level donors have access to a shorter version for review:   28 minutes, Patrons

3)  Softening the Jaw, Shoulders, and Chest (Patrons)
After a more complex lesson, here you'll learn to integrate ancient undifferentiated movements of the jaw and whole body

What a superb ‘unhooking’ lesson … everything let go. Deep sigh. Thank you for these ongoing gifts of awareness.

4)  The Tongue and the Spine (Patrons)
Review and expand on the last three lessons, diving deeper into the many connections between the eyes, jaw, tongue, neck, shoulders, spine, and breath

What an incredible way to mobilize the neck from the inside out! And, yes, my face feels so much more relaxed.

Relationships of the Neck & Shoulders

Connect them through the chest, spine, jaw, and eyes. Undermine the anxiety pattern.

5)  Chanukia, the Candle Holder Lesson
Another popular classic, great for mobilizing scapulas, clavicles, sternum, and more

What a joyful and playful way of learning and refining oneself!

Wow! This is one of the best online Feldenkrais sessions I have experienced, thank you Nick.

6)  "Beard Pull" Pecking, with Chanukia (Patrons)
An unusual movement image creates a potent reorganization of your neck and spine

Another fabulous lesson, Nick! I felt all sorts of interesting and unaccustomed connections in head, belly, hips, neck, lower back…

7)  Arms Like a Skeleton, Integrating the Neck, Jaw, and Eyes (Patrons)
Reduce tension and improve the posture of your upper back, shoulders, and neck

 

8)  Freeing the Shoulders by Rolling the Arms (Patrons)
Explore more skillful connections between your arms, chest, spine, and head

Wonderful antidote to a day spent raking and spade lifting!

9)  Whole Body Arms (Patrons)
Expand your image of how arms do what they do. Then don’t be surprised when they can do more!

My new favorite lesson for the neck and shoulders

- from the Zoom chat

Where to next?

For further study, the three "Main Event" lessons in our Rock & Roll! (and Rotate) course dive deep into the neck, shoulders, and arms in another way.

We all thrive when more people are doing more Feldenkrais. Please share this resource!

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