Relaxing Your Neck and Jaw (39 min)

Back-lying, often knees bent. Relax with simple Awareness Through Movement techniques designed to reduce stress and pain and improve function. You'll also discover pleasant connections of the jaw and neck with your breath, tongue, lumbar spine, and pelvis. Often very helpful for TMJ problems.

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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 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.

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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!

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 – 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 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.

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Tip – Directions are Relative

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Tip 1 – Interrupted?

Study tip: Interrupted or don’t have enough time? You can return to the lesson later today or tomorrow. Read how best to continue your learning on our FAQ page.

If you’d like something supporting your head make sure it’s level, smooth, and minimal: maybe a few folds of a towel, but no more than you need for comfort. Your head should be free to shift, nod, and roll small amounts effortlessly. Don’t use a sticky surface like a yoga mat: it will pull your hair.

It’s said at the beginning but worth repeating: these movements are tiny! L.E.S.S.S. is more: Light, Easy, Soft, Slow, Smooth movements — with a nice pause in-between each — will create the most pleasant and lasting change for you.

Feel free to pause the recording to enjoy longer rests or explore a few more movements.

All movements are gradual, both into and out of the movement. Don’t let go of a “nod” or jaw movement quickly. Instead gradually relax back to your home resting position, then rest a moment between movements.

Even if your movements are “bumpy” at first they will get smoother over time if you continue to breathe easily and sustain the gentle intention of gradual movements.

Let your head roll freely when you explore little sideways movements of your jaw, tongue, and eyes late in the lesson.

For our Patron-level donors: you have access to a short and interesting after-lesson discussion with the students who were present when this lesson was recorded. Patrons click here.

This audio recording is found in Getting Oriented, our introductory collection of Feldenkrais basics for newcomers (and longtimers looking for a “tune-up”).

It was designed as an introduction to one of our most popular lessons ever. You can find this lesson and that lesson as #1 and #2 in our Jaw, Neck, and Shoulders Deep Dive.

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  1. Joan Oliver Goldsmith on July 17, 2022 at 12:41 pm

    I really like the work that includes the tongue in this practice. I noticed that not only the neck but the throat was more relaxed. A good one for singers.

  2. Tomaseen Foley on July 27, 2022 at 12:09 pm

    Having done this for three successive days I feel that my head is significantly more erect – and I feel taller. May be the most relaxing lesson I’ve done.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on August 19, 2022 at 1:42 pm

      Fabulous. I had been considering renaming this “Relaxing Your Jaw and Neck” as I assemble lessons for our upcoming jaw/neck/shoulders Deep Dive. I think you just sealed the deal on that!

      • Nick Strauss-Klein on August 29, 2022 at 11:14 am

        UPDATE: Done! (This lesson used to be called “Comforting Your Jaw and Neck”)

  3. Julie Hall on October 13, 2022 at 11:24 am

    The right side of my neck has been feeling tight (for years). I definitely felt that my bones had released somehow after this. Also, I appreciated how calmly soothing this exercise was… as life can be too stressful, so thanks Nick! I am only starting on this Feldenkrais journey, but when I dedicate some time, I am reaping the benefits. Amazing how so little can do so much!

  4. John on October 16, 2022 at 4:24 pm

    Thank you Nick for this, your lessons have really been life changing for me.
    Somehow the biggest lasting change from this lesson is in my low back and pelvis, easing a persistent tension. Also found the effect on my breathing depending on the tongue position was really profound which is something I can focus on to ease tension in my day.

  5. Julie on October 19, 2022 at 8:04 pm

    I chronically clench the right side of my jaw and, boy, was that obvious as I did this lesson! This showed me that I clearly need to be gentler and smaller with my strategies. I have more work to do, but I definitely felt moments of relaxation in my face, mouth and jaw that I haven’t felt for a long time.

  6. Rebecca on December 16, 2022 at 4:09 pm

    I was wondering why I would feel a bit nauseated when it came to moving the tongue? I’ve had tmj for many years and I have a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders. I only did this lesson once and only got up to the tongue part (about 20 minutes in) but will the nausea go away eventually?
    Thank you so much for all these lessons. They’ve been very valuable to me especially over the course of the pandemic.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on December 18, 2022 at 9:22 am

      Hard to say exactly, but nausea is a sign to stop – I’m glad you did. You can try again later if/when you like, but do the movements smaller, more slowly, more gently. Maybe with the sense that you’re only imagining them. Or if you notice the work on one side of your mouth is more comfortable than the other, stick with that for now. Just keep on making adjustments toward comfort and ease, and things will change and almost certainly improve.

  7. AC on December 3, 2023 at 4:42 am

    My favourite so far. So helpful with my problematic neck, jaw and pelvis. Thank you Nick. Love your voice too – so calm, clear and relaxing.

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