5.27.2011

Relief from TMJ Syndrome, Teeth Grinding, and Chronic Jaw Tension

Lion Pose
Jaw tension is nasty business.  I carried anxiety and anger in my jaw for years, which resulted in neck pain and frequent headaches, which then resulted in a whole host of other postural and psychological problems.  Over time, I have been able to let go of this tension, but not without diligent effort.

I regularly suggest during my classes that students check in with and let go of any tension accumulating in the jaw and throat as a by-product of their efforts in order to help my students develop awareness of their stress reactions.   Students often ask me what they can do to address their chronic jaw tension outside of class.  I give them Lion Pose (which illicits dubious stares) and tell them to simply replace the stress reaction of tension with one of relaxation.

There is no quick fix for TMJ syndrome, grinding of the teeth, or other tension issues.  Relaxation is hard work, but developing a keen awareness is the first step to overcoming the harmful habit of unconscious clenching of the jaw.  For a few more fantastic tips on relief from jaw tension, here's Kiki in all of her infinite wisdom:




6 comments:

  1. Oh, I have struggled with teeth grinding for years -- apparently it was brought on by bad orthodontic treatments (braces) when I was a teenager. Who knew it could lead to pain in the low back, tension in the neck and shoulders, and thousands of dollars of dental work 20 years later?... The auto-suggestion before bed is a good way to relieve it, as is wearing a mouth guard. The mouth guard re-aligns the jaw, and is quite therapeutic, while also preventing the teeth from further wear.

    Thanks for this post... BTW a lot of people make this mistake (including Kiki), but TMJ is the name of the actual area of the skull (temporomandibular joint) and is not the name of a disorder. Saying you have TMJ is like saying you have a scapula ;)

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  2. Hi Stephanie - Thanks for pointing out the error. After a quick bit of googling, I have found that you are indeed correct. I've updated the post to reflect this.

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  3. I always wondered why some yoga teachers always say "unclench your jaws" at savasana. Thanks for letting me know it's a common syndrome. I do know someone who wears mouth guards to sleep to prevent teeth grinding, and she does not seem like a tense person, at least on the surface.

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  4. Oh, this is absolutely the bane of my face!!! I completely carry tension in my jaw (on a probably related note, I also have huge difficulty vocalising my feelings when I'm experiencing intense emotions...) and when I'm stressed or anxious I grind my teeth in my sleep and wake up with an aching jaw, neck and shoulders. I tried an off-the-counter mouth guard but it was too big (I have a very small jaw) so it just made my jaw ache even more! I reckon I should just work towards a stress-free life... ;)

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  5. Hi Megan,
    How are you?
    In my chilhood , I suffered from stammering. This very Sinhasan or Lion pose as shown by you cured my stammering problem.

    Regards
    CA. Abhishek Sanyal

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