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Breathe and Chakra Release Part TWO: Exhale, Jaw Tension and Release

For an introduction and explanation of this series, see Part one: Introduction.

The exercises I will be sharing with you over the next month will focus on 3 areas of the body: 3 areas that correlate with 3 of the 7 Chakras. In East Indian philosophy, the chakras are known as the 7 centers in our bodies to which energy flows through.  It is believed that each of these chakras – like valves – can become blocked, and that it is this blocked energy can lead to illness, anxiety, depression and in general, a sense of imbalance in life. 

ChakrasWomanDescription

The exercises will begin at the first chakra, the root. I will then move to the solar plexus at the third chakra, and then to the fourth chakra – that of the heart

But before moving on to the exercises, let us discuss the main elements in which these exercises will be focused: tension, exhale and release. 

PART TWO:  Exhale, Jaw Tension and Release

Surprisingly enough, the most tense areas in the body are the jaw, the back of the throat (or soft palate), and the solar plexus

The solar plexus – also known as the celiac plexus or coeliac plexus – is a complex network of nerves located in the abdomen, just below the sternum. If you feel where your lungs begin to separate to opposing sides, your solar plexus lies within this softer, gushy area. As you will see from gently touching the area, it is very fragile and sensitive (so be careful when touching). The solar plexus is known to be our main emotion centre.  In most cases, this area is held in a tight knot. But more of this in Part 4 when we reach the solar plexus chakra. 

The Jaw.  When you are angry… when you are upset… how many of you notice your jaw tensing up? Do you clench your teeth? Keep your mouth closed? Next time you are anger, check to see what your jaw is doing. Chances are it is shut pretty tightly. This is one of our primary defense mechanisms used to keep some of that inner turmoil inside. 

Soft Palate.  And how about that awful sensation we’ve all experienced when we are hurt or upset. You know that “lump in the back of the throat” feeling?  When you feel you may cry?  In order to protect ourselves, we block off the passageway of our throats to literally choke down our feelings and keep them from flowing out. We do this by raising and tensing our soft palate. 

As a society, we’ve come to know those feelings very well. Emotional release has become a much less accepted part of our culture. As such, many of us – including myself – know the feeling of walking around like a zombie. We get so used to blocking our energies that we feel like nothing is passing through us. We have trouble accessing any emotion at all. 

release exhale

If we were to be able to release some of the tension held in these areas, we may begin to actually let our feelings flow through us – thus decreasing the toxic energy we build up when we consistently block our impulses. But how can we learn to release these areas? These areas that, chances are, we don’t even notice are locked up and tense?

This is wear breathe comes in. 

soften exhale

In typical yoga practice, as I’m sure many of you are familiar with, the general instruction is to breathe through the nostrils. Yoga practioners have many reasons for this, such as increased filtration, connection with different channels of the nervous system, and thus an increased ability to quiet and steady the mind. I absolutely agree with these notions and practice a great deal of yoga myself. 

However, with the notion of calming and steadying the mind also comes the notion of cutting off certain energy pathways. 

So what if I were to suggest that you try breathing through your mouth

Exhaling through the mouth allows for a greater volume of air – your full potential of air – to be released. Simultaneously, it also enables your jaw to relax, your throat to open, and for air to flow through your entire body.

Let’s talk about the exhale

Exhale Chakra Release

  • Lie on your back with your eyes closed. Gently relax your jaw so that your mouth naturally falls open. Relax your tongue out slightly so it rests on your lower lip. 
  • As you inhale through your mouth, feel the cold air touch the back of your throat. If you are having trouble feeling this openness in your throat, try to initiate a yawn. Yawning is an excellent way to lift your soft palate and open your throat. I mean, we yawn because our body is needing an extra flow of air. Take a big yawn and try to retain the lifted quality as you bring you mouth back to its resting state. 
  • Another option to help raise the soft palate and open the throat is to inhale on the syllable “K.” As you begin your inhale, imagine speaking the consonant “K,” while keeping your tongue gently out and mouth open. You should really be feeling that cold air now. 
  • As you begin to exhale, instead of thinking of pushing out the breathe, try to simply think “release.”  The exhale should take absolutely zero effort, but rather, should create a very natural sensation of slowly melting into the ground below you. I like to literally imagine the ground melting up into and through my entire body. And instead of simply thinking of the exhale involving your chest, throat and mouth, try to imagine every inch of your body slowly releasing itself into the floor. 
  • Let the exhale come to an end naturally. Do not inhale until you have the natural impulse to. “Inhale” comes from the word “inspire,” – meaning your body must be inspired to take in more breathe. 

This focus of  breathe can be implemented into any or all forms of meditation. Even taking a few moments to lie down and find this open, full body breathe can have a huge impact on your sense of grounding. 

Allow Exhale

  • Another simple way to practice the full body exhale and to release the jaw is to lay on your back but place a small, soft ball (or rolled up sweater, balled up socks, or soft foam roll) underneath the skull hinge at the back of the neck. Your head, being supported, will gently hang back slightly from the occipital joint, enabling your jaw to release and throat to open even further.  Lay like this with your head gently back, exhaling through the mouth, for as long as you feel necessary. 

More for jaw release:

  • Masseter massage: Did you know the strongest muscle in the body in accordance to weight is the masseter muscle (aka the main muscle in the jaw used for chewing)?? That makes for some pretty tense jaw hinges. Gently take your fingers or knuckles of your 2nd and 3rd fingers and massage from your jaw hinge (just below your ear) down the sides of your cheeks. Do at least three solid pull downs on each side. You should notice a much more relaxed jaw. 
How to relax your jaw and breathe through your mouth: Two necessary components of releasing… Click To Tweet

These exercises – massaging your jaw, inhaling on a “K,” forcing a  yawn to raise the soft palate, and releasing out on long full body exhales – are not just for those who meditate. These are exercises that can be done absolutely anywhere. Sitting on the bus? Waiting in line? Listening in class?  Bored?  Try relaxing your tongue out onto your lip – even slightly – for a few breathes. Test yourself during a meeting to see if you can feel cold air at the back of your throat as you inhale. Sit up straight and imagine your exale slowly releasing from your entire body, feeling yourself melting into your chair. Take a moment at any time through the day to check in with yourself and see if you can access this sense of openness. Just maybe don’t yawn too much if you are sitting in class. 

These are the basic principles we will be using as we launch into a few specific exercises. Each exercise will involve open mouth breathing and will require those jaws to be released. 

So with this, we are now ready to move on. Come back for part three where we will discuss and explore the “root” chakra. 

Tell me,

Do you feel tension in your jaw? Do you notice yourself clenching your teeth or keeping your mouth closed when you are angry or upset?

Have you experienced that “lump in the throat” sensation? When does it happen and how does it make you feel? 

 

20 COMMENTS

  1. chasetheredgrape | 11th Mar 16

    Thanks for this Cora – I’m going to try it out next time I meditate. I have been struggling recently to clear my mind but feel this focus would be so beneficial!
    chasetheredgrape recently posted…What you may not know…My Profile

    • Cora | 14th Mar 16

      It is a new way to get both your body and your mind in a state of focus and awareness – I hope at least one of the little tips strikes something with you!

  2. SuzLyfe | 11th Mar 16

    I grind my teeth at night, and I am definitely a jaw clincher. Especially with the chaos of the new job! This will help so much!
    SuzLyfe recently posted…Friday Favorites from My First Week At Anytime Fitness!My Profile

    • Cora | 14th Mar 16

      Ahhh yes yes yes…. as many of us do. The greatest thing is that you are aware of it though! Many of us aren’t. When you are aware, then each time you notice yourself clenching you can consciously tell yourself to let go.

  3. Heather@hungryforbalance | 11th Mar 16

    Very interesting! I do try to consciously relax my jaw, but have a terrible habit of taking shallow breathes through my nose.
    I’m going to try the jaw massage!
    Heather@hungryforbalance recently posted…Friday Favorites #42: Weekly ReadsMy Profile

    • Cora | 14th Mar 16

      A few breaths through the mouth can feel so different when you are used to using the nose. I hope the massage helps!!

  4. Ellie | 12th Mar 16

    Super interesting post Cora! I experience the lump in the back of my throat when I’ve accidentally said or done something that embarrasses someone else. It’s also like a foot in the mouth feeling. I also experience it when I am not exactly scared, but unaware of what the future might hold, which is kind of fear generating. Thanks for the post 🙂
    Ellie recently posted…Fast Friday #8 Long Runs are for WAFFLESMy Profile

    • Cora | 14th Mar 16

      That is so interesting that you notice it when you’ve embarrassed someone else – like it a symptom of guilt? Foot in mouth – both literally and metaphorically. And fear… definitely. Nuts how our body physically reacts in these ways when we feel certain emotions.

  5. cookiesnchem | 12th Mar 16

    This is a really interesting post! Thank you for sharing 🙂
    cookiesnchem recently posted…Recent Eats and Things: Meatball Cookies?My Profile

    • Cora | 14th Mar 16

      Thank you for reading!

  6. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets | 12th Mar 16

    I am loving this series. I actually did a bunch of stretches this morning for back pain, and I’ve got a prenatal massage on the books for a few hours from now, which I am desperately looking forward to. I think the deep breathing in conjunction with the other things can only help ease some of this discomfort.

    I definitely hold tension in my jaw so this was really helpful for me. Thank you.

    • Cora | 14th Mar 16

      Yes! Its amazing how much breathing can help – especially when combined with stretching and massage. SO glad you are getting those massages and keeping things mobile with stretching. I’m sure even though the discomfort is still there, this is keeping it from getting worse.

  7. Sarah @ Bucket List Tummy | 13th Mar 16

    I am definitely familiar with the lump in the throat feeling! Big breaths of release really help when I can’t settle my mind.
    Sarah @ Bucket List Tummy recently posted…You might be a runner if..My Profile

    • Cora | 14th Mar 16

      It’s not a nice feeling. Its amazing how a little breathing can bring about clear thinking once again.

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