by Buffy Owens, GCFP

The upper jaw, part of the cranium, connects most intimately with the spine and back of the body. Every movement the upper jaw makes reverberates through the spine. But we will explore that a bit more in another lesson.

The lower jaw (a.k.a. the mandible) connects most intimately with your body-core, rib basket, and sternum. Imagine this glorious network of soft tissue that connects the jaw to the clavicle (a.k.a. collar bones), sternum (a.k.a. breastbone), hyoid bone, the upper two ribs, and so much more.

Now remember, none of these parts exists as an island. For instance, the hyoid bone and the upper to ribs utilize your vast tissue network connected to your cervical spine, shoulder blades, and more. All of this can have a direct impact on your breathing and head placement. Oh and that head placement is oh so very important to balance.

When your jaw joints are out of balance and/or the muscles are working hard (i.e. tight), your body attempts to compensate to maintain balance. The muscles in your head and neck that work together with jaw muscles will pull against each other and your bones—often resulting in an imbalance in the vertebrae of your neck. If maintain this over time, this imbalance can be transferred down the spine into your back.

I could go on and on about the interweaving of tissue and movement. But instead, I am going have you take a quick look at the image below. It isn’t everything, but it is a good place to begin to see some of the parts that can be directly impacted by the jaw.

But what does the jaw have to do with emotions?

Your avenue of expression includes your jaw, tongue, throat, and the surrounding muscles and bones that support you in making faces, sound to communicate your thoughts and emotions. Freedom of physical movement in the jaw is your avenue of expression. Immobility is silent.

Just think about those moments when you are holding back saying something for one reason or another. I bet you pierce your lips, clench your jaw a bit (or a lot), and press your tongue against the floor or roof of your mouth. Heck, this mighty grimace is even known as ‘biting your tongue’!

Or what about those moments when you are laughing hysterically. What is your jaw doing then? I bet it is as open and free as you are in the moment.

See The Connections

Buffy Owens, GCFP, CHC, the founder of Conscious Movements, is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitionercm and Certified Health Coach with over 20 years experience in the mind-body fields. She specializes in helping people with chronic pain learn how to suffer less and enjoy more of life. She’s also admittedly addicted to the art of learning, the joys of movement, the wonders of mindfulness & meditation, and the powers of the almighty menu. You can find out more about Buffy and what she offers at