5 Yoga Poses To Relieve Tight Jaw And Neck

5 Yoga Poses To Relieve Tight Jaw And Neck

According to the Cleveland Clinic, an estimated five to 12% of adults deal with disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Jaw pain is rarely the only symptom related to these disorders. Neck and shoulder tension, in addition to headaches are very common symptoms that accompany TMJ disorders. Fortunately, there are a handful of yoga poses that may relieve tension and improve your daily life. 

Yoga poses work to relieve jaw pain in several ways. First off, specific yoga poses may correct a misaligned spine, specifically in the head and neck area. Staring down at your phone or computer can force the head forward and create tension in the neck. The muscles in the neck work to support your jaw joint, so you can experience tension in the jaw if they become tight. Yoga poses that aim to stretch the muscles in your neck and shoulders may help relieve TMJ symptoms. TMJ doesn’t always stem from neck pain, though, and jaw injury, arthritis in the jaw, stress, misaligned teeth, and teeth grinding can cause TMJ issues. If a tight neck accompanies your TMJ though, experiment with the following yoga poses for relief. 

Seated Neck Tilt

When you stretch the muscles in the neck, you can help relieve tension in the shoulders and TMJ. Make sure to take deep breaths as you stretch your neck muscles. Sit in a cross-legged position and keep your back straight. Rest your right forearm and hand on your right thigh and place your left hand behind your head. Hook your fingers under the bottom right side of your skull, just behind your ear. Gently tilt your head to the left and pull your head forward slightly to stretch the back right of your neck. Try to relax your jaw in this position and take four or five deep breaths. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. 

Locust Pose With Chin Tuck

Locust pose is an excellent stretch to relieve tension in your upper back. It involves lying on your stomach to elongate your spine and open your chest and shoulders. Adding the chin tuck may help realign the jaw, so long as you aren’t tightening it during the pose. Begin on your stomach and clasp your hands behind your back, so they rest on your buttocks. Your forehead should be resting on the ground. Take a deep breath in and keep your chin tucked as you lift your head away from the ground. Aim to left your upper back off the ground, engaging your glutes and lower back muscles to do so. Relax your jaw and breathe deeply for five breaths before releasing back to the ground. Repeat two more times. 

Heart Bench

If you have tight chest muscles, you may experience neck tension or TMJ pain as a result. Opening up those muscles in this supported heart bench can help counteract that tension. Roll up a towel or yoga blanket lengthwise and place it on your yoga mat so that it can support your spine. Lie on your back so that your spine is along the blanket or towel, ensuring that the base of your skull is resting on the edge of the blanket. Extend both arms out to the sides and close your eyes. Breathe deeply into your diaphragm and relax your neck, jaw, and forehead. Remain here for five to 10 breaths and then come out of the position. 

Thread The Needle

Jaw tension can occur simultaneously with thoracic spine and shoulder tension. If you open up your shoulders by engaging in this pose, you may find some relief in jaw and neck tension. Begin on all fours in a tabletop position, stacking your wrists above your wrists and hips above your knees. On a deep inhale, draw your left arm up toward the ceiling and then thread it through the center of your body. Drop your left shoulder to the ground as you “thread the needle” by reaching your left arm under and across your body. Rest your left temple on the ground and relax your jaw and face. Take three to five deep breaths, return to the starting position, and then repeat on the other side. 

Diaphragmatic Breathing With Neck Support

If you want to encourage blood flow to your chest, shoulders, neck, and jaw, one of the best ways to do that is via diaphragmatic breathing. Similar to the Heart Bench pose, roll up a yoga mat or blanket to place under your neck for support. Lie flat on your back and bend your knees to plant your feet flat on the floor about six inches from your buttocks. Make sure that your neck is resting on the rolled blanket, hanging your head off the back. Relax your jaw and face, taking a few deep breaths into your diaphragm. Try to expand your ribs as much as you can during your inhale and then contract inward during your exhale. If it feels comfortable, place the palm of your left hand on your forehead and press your right hand into the ground. Take three to five more breaths and then release.

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