Easing the Jaw and Neck: the short edit (28 min, Patrons)

Back-lying, briefly framed by seated explorations. Exploring and refining basic movements of the jaw, and integrating them with movements of the head and neck. This lesson is often helpful for reducing many types of jaw-related tension and discomfort, including some kinds of headaches, TMJ pain (temporomandibular joint), and discomfort and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and spine. Prerequisites! See the lesson notes.

Before you begin read this for practical tips and your responsibilities, and check out Comfort & Configuration below.

Recorded live in a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (ATM) class, this lesson is copyright Nick Strauss-Klein, for personal use only.

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Tip – Complete the Movement

Study tip: Complete one movement before beginning the next. You’ll improve faster if there’s enough time between movements that you feel fully at rest.

Tip 4 – Padding

Study tip: Comfort first! Carpeted floors usually work well, but it’s great to have an extra mat or blanket nearby in case you need a softer surface in some configurations.

Tip 3 – Head Support

Study tip: It helps to have a large bath towel nearby when you start a lesson. You can fold it differently for comfortable head support in any configuration.

Tip – Rewinding

Study tip: Many instructions are repeated. If you get a little lost, rest and listen. You’ll often find your way. Or use the rewind button on the page or your mobile device.

Tip – LESSS is more

LESSS is more: Light, Easy, Small, Slow, & Smooth movements will ease pains and improve your underlying neuromuscular habits faster than any other kind of movement, no matter who you are or what your training is!

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Tip – Directions are Relative

Study tip: Directions are always relative to your body. For example, if you’re lying on your back “up” is toward your head, and “forward” is toward the ceiling.

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Tip – what to wear

Study tip: Wear loose, comfortable clothes that are warm enough for quiet movement. Remove or avoid anything restrictive like belts or glasses.

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Tip 5 – Discomfort

Study tip: If a configuration or movement causes any increase in discomfort, or you feel you just don’t want to do it, don’t! Make it smaller and slower, adapt it, or rest and imagine.

Tip 1 – Interrupted?

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We recommend the full-length version of this lesson before reviewing it with this short edit. You’ll learn how to take care of yourself in jaw study, and a bit about the function and comfort of the jaw, and its relationship to our thoughts and emotions.

It’s helpful to use a smoothly folded towel for head support if you need it, and not to use more height than you need. If it’s comfortable, have your head resting so your face is oriented approximately parallel with the ceiling, with neither too little head support (head dangling back, as if looking up) nor too much (chin tucked, as if looking down).

All movements, even simply opening and closing your mouth, are done with comfort as the first priority, as small and as slowly as needed to enjoy yourself. It’s common to unintentionally move the jaw in large or leaping ways at first. This is normal. Simply rest a moment between movements, breathe freely, and stay quiet and clear with your intention and attention, and this will improve.

When you’re lying on your back and you’re invited to bend your knees and stand your feet, place them about the width of your hips or a little wider. Have the balanced, so that your legs don’t feel like they’re falling toward or away from each other.

It’s great to let your whole self respond naturally to the fine movements of the jaw you’re exploring. For example, in side-to-side jaw movements early in the lesson you may find your eyes moving or your head rolling a little.

As always in Feldenkrais study, inviting and allowing more of yourself to participate naturally as you fulfill your movement intention is a wonderful part of the integrative value of the lesson.

Constraints of movement, used to help you feel or explore a particular relationship within yourself, will always be named explicitly. So, when you’re not being asked to constrain something or create an oppositional or differentiated movement, anything goes (so long as it’s comfortable)!

Tip for after the first time you study this lesson: it’s possible to explore almost all of this lesson seated in a chair, or even lying in bed (as I discovered when I couldn’t sleep one night), though in bed you’ll miss some of the fine details you can notice while lying on a firmer surface.

This lesson is in Patrons Monthly, our always-growing collection of new lessons (one or more added every month) for Feldenkrais Project Patron-level donors.

It’s is an edited-down version of our full-length lesson called Easing the Jaw, Neck, and Shoulders.

Both appear in our Jaw, Neck, and Shoulders Deep Dive course.

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  1. Nick Strauss-Klein on January 24, 2020 at 11:03 am

    Your feedback is always encouraged. As this lesson is the first of its kind (an edited down short version of a previously published lesson), I’m particularly intrigued to hear what listeners think, especially if you’ve studied both!

  2. nat on January 24, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    i love long lessons and prefer them to the shorter versions. never get bored or (mentally) tired even if they are taking an hour or so. thank you so much Nick. i love your clarity!
    Nat from Jerusalem

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on January 26, 2020 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Nat! I feel the same way about long lessons, to tell you the truth! The main body of the Feldenkrais Project lesson collection will always be full-length lessons, since in my own personal study experience as well as what I’ve observed teaching 1000’s of ATM students I can easily sense the benefits of a full hour class. Many busy listeners have expressed a desire for shorter lessons, especially newcomers. Since the Feldenkrais Project’s vision is to make the work accessible to all with no barrier to entry, we’ll be offering short lessons to help get people with less time available to study excited about Feldenkrais. My hope is that as they dive in they’ll get curious and discover the value of longer lessons. I’ll be working on my messaging and writing about this at the bottom of the new short collection, when it is published.

  3. Orla Clarke on January 31, 2020 at 5:57 am

    Thank you! ‘Easing the Jaw and Neck’ couldn’t have come at a more fortuitous time for me. Today I am having dental implants done and I have been preparing for the ordeal by doing lots of the ‘Easing the Jaw’ lesson. I intend carrying on to help with recuperation. I treasure all ATM lessons and pick at least one a week to do . Always in the morning after a warm bath which makes it easier to lie on the floor with a slightly crocked spine!

  4. Trudy Jacquelin on March 1, 2022 at 3:45 pm

    I didnt have a full hour to devote to a lesson today, so i searched for what i thought would be an easy half hour.
    This lesson was easy and gentle, but so profound. When i finished i felt my thyroid and my metabolism were kicked into action, my sternum relaxed, my lungs, chest and breathing became easier but the ease and comfort that spread throughout my body was absolutely profound. I felt like i never wanted to move again and just wanted to stay within the ease and comfort forever without moving! So much for it being a quick and easy lesson……LOL
    Thank you for these shorter versions Nick. They sure help when there are days when time is limited. I love them. But then I love all your lessons!
    God Bless you forever for this platform. I am not sure what my body would do without it, especially given there are not that many Feldenkrais practitioners in my area. Thanks a MILLION!

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on March 1, 2022 at 4:59 pm

      You are so kind – thanks for supporting The FP and sharing your process! Hearing how students respond to lessons really motivates me. I’ve got a few more short lessons in the Patrons Monthly pipeline this year – I agree they are helpful.

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