Softening the Jaw, Shoulders, and Chest (Patrons)

Back-lying and side-lying. Develops the simplest jaw movements we've explored by linking them to movements of the spine and shoulders, and to softening and turning the torso. Can be very helpful for TMJ difficulties. See the Context notes for recommended study order for our jaw lessons.

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.

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 – 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.

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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Tip – Pause the recording

Study tip: If you’re really enjoying a movement and want to explore longer, or you just need a break for a while, pause the recording!

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Tip – Technical Difficulties

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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 – 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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Tech tip: On mobile or tablet? Once you start playing the audio, your device’s native playback controls should work well.

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 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 – skip a lesson

Study tip: If you can’t find a comfortable way to do the initial movements or configuration of a lesson, it’s ok to skip it for now and go on to another lesson.

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We offer over 50 free lessons, but this one's just for our Patron-level donors. You can learn about it in the free lesson notes and comments below, but to access the audio you’ll need to join The FP as a Patron. Learn more

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This lesson has a prerequisite. Click Context for recommended study order for our jaw lessons.

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.

Let your head roll or turn freely whenever you explore little sideways movements of your jaw in this lesson. Do not try to isolate movements of your jaw.

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.

At the end of the lesson we were a little short on time. When it’s over, take a minute to stand and turn slowly from side to side.

  • Notice how your eyes, head, and shoulders relate to exploring the world to the one side, and to the other.
  • Can you sense and relate what you feel in your jaw, mouth, and neck as you do this?

This lesson is designed to be simpler than Easing the Jaw, Neck, and Shoulders. Having explored many complex, differentiated movements of the head, jaw, eyes, and shoulders in that lesson, here we take time to develop mostly undifferentiated movements that relate turning the body to sideways movements of the jaw.

Left-right movements of our heads and bodies have been linked with left-right movements of the jaw through millions of years of evolution. Here we seek to experience and clarify that link, finding and shedding unknown habits that compete with those patterns.

This lesson is found in Patrons Monthly, our collection of lessons exclusively for Feldenkrais Project Patron-level donors. It was recorded on November 16, 2021.

You’ll hear references to earlier lessons. We recommend you study our jaw-focused lessons in the order they appear in our Jaw, Neck, and Shoulders Deep Dive course. This is #3.

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Members and Patrons. Learn more or login:

Got a question for Nick, or a thought about this lesson?

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  1. Mikaelah on September 2, 2022 at 12:12 pm

    The link for the first lesson on the context link does not work. When I tried to search, that title does not come up.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on September 2, 2022 at 5:41 pm

      Good catch! Fixed. Sorry about that. I had renamed the lesson and link and missed it on this page. Thanks for letting me know.

  2. Mikaelah on September 3, 2022 at 11:57 am


  3. Sara Firman on September 9, 2022 at 6:14 am

    What a superb ‘unhooking’ lesson. For me, it was especially the way in which pressing/lifting my shoulders could release my jaw and neck … and then everything let go. Deep sigh. Thank you for these ongoing gifts of awareness.

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