Coming attraction: yoga for the jaw

I’m announcing now that I intend to create a “yoga for the jaw” class by the end of this year. There’s a sweet overlap of demographics: women of child-bearing age are nine times more likely than men to have severe or chronic TMJ issues, and this group also tends to take yoga (and Pilates) classes.

My plan is in the seedling stage right now. I have so much to learn and discern.

It feels good to get back into teaching yoga. I completed teacher training 10 years ago and taught restorative classes for a while. I’ve been practicing since 1982 and have been especially devoted since 1996 after a car wreck. I’m drawn to alignment-oriented classes and teachers, both for my own issues and as a bodyworker.

To this end, I will be taking a workshop from a highly-regarded yoga teacher in Dallas in late September. Embodied Dharma: Yoga, Connective Tissue, and Inter-Being is being offered at the Dallas Yoga Center by Tias Little, who created and teaches Prajna yoga.

Learning from Tias has been on my bucket list for a decade, and I’m finally doing it! Prajna means wisdom in Sanskrit, and Prajna yoga is more comprehensive than most yoga, including more of the eight limbs of Patanjali’s yoga into practice, as well as anatomy and somatic awareness. Tias includes aspects of Buddhism and craniosacral therapy — interests we share — into his teachings.

I am especially looking forward to learning more about yoga for the cranium, jaw, and ear from him.

Thank you, Anna Gieselman, a Prajna teacher at Castle Hill Fitness in Austin, for letting me know about this workshop!

If you’re interested, Anna is teaching a free Prajna yoga class on Labor Day, Free Day of Yoga, at Castle Hill’s downtown location. You can reserve your spot here.

Thank you for a good year, my friends. Here’s to 2019!

Screen Shot 2018-12-30 at 8.05.54 AM

I woke up this morning at year’s end, reflecting on my work in 2018. It’s been a very good year for me in so many ways, and I want to share that with you.

  • I’ve really come into my own doing the advanced integrative bodywork that I love, and of course there’s always more to learn with each person who comes in.
  • I’ve done more sessions with more people than in previous years.
  • I started working with a business coach this year, and I am very grateful for that. I’ve learned a lot.
  • I’ve continued training in craniosacral therapy, biodynamics, and Zero Balancing, deepening and integrating those skills.
  • Treating TMJ tension and pain has become a satisfying mainstay of my practice, ranging from the free 30-minute consultation to the 5-sessions-in-4-weeks program to my Facebook group Word of Mouth, as well as seeking and working with referral partners.
  • My new Heavenly Head Massage is getting a lot of traction.
  • I feel settled and at home in my office in West Lake Hills and very happy to be working with the practitioners who share the suite.
  • I’ve enjoyed feeding the birds on the hillside outside my office as well as arranging rocks just so.

I don’t know what 2019 will deliver, of course, but I have some plans:

  • I’ll be taking a course in TMJ mastery from a teacher in Canada who’s been doing TMJ and vocal cord work for over 20 years. He hasn’t posted the dates and locations for his 2019 trainings yet, but trading some of Austin’s summer heat for some Canadian cool would be nice!
  • I’m taking another craniosacral therapy course from the Upledger Institute in May, SomatoEmotional Release 2 here in Austin, and I’m slowly making progress on getting certified in craniosacral therapy techniques. I’ll continue to attend study groups and work with a mentor and will serve as a teaching assistant for CST1 in Austin next August. I feel advanced Upledger courses calling me — the brain, cranial nerves, pediatrics, the inner physician, and more.
  • I’m starting to work on certification in Zero Balancing. I continue attend study groups, advancing skills days, and taking classes, and I hope to attend founder Fritz Smith’s 90th birthday in May near Palm Springs, CA.
  • I plan to make videos for my website, Facebook page, and Facebook group.
  • I don’t have any classes in mind yet for biodynamics in 2019, but I plan to continue working on a modeling project with a mentor and trading with fellow practitioners.

May 2019 bring you more of what you want in life — health, happiness, abundance, love, opportunity, connection, peace of mind, and satisfaction. Thank you for your presence in my life!

In training later this week

I’m taking a long-awaited class in Zero Balancing November 1-4 at the Lauterstein-Conway Massage School. It’s called “Zero Balancing Expanded: Addressing the Skull.” This is the first time it’s being taught in Austin, and five ZB teachers who are training to teach this course worldwide are coming to participate as teaching assistants.

I will be out of the office Thursday afternoon, all day Friday, and all day Saturday this week. I return to the office on Tuesday, November 6, so if you’re thinking of booking an appointment this week, make it Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday morning.

Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 10.02.40 PMAlthough the teacher, Judith Sullivan of Charlottesville, VA, is an accomplished craniosacral therapist and teacher of craniosacral therapy through the Upledger Institute, I’ve read her book Zero Balancing Expanded: The Attitude of Awaiting a Fish, and it is not about craniosacral therapy. It is more about the artful places that therapists can touch the skull that Judith has learned from decades of practice. It uses ZB principles to release stuck energy.

We all realize that our skulls/heads/craniums are extraordinary places on our bodies. The head is a huge ground for discovery. This training is so needed.

If you know me at all, you know I love integrating techniques after listening to what the body needs. What I learn in this class will be fun to experiment with and a huge addition to my skull-oriented skills.

I am mailing in my application to become certified in Zero Balancing to get the ball rolling on that process. I am so pleased to include this modality in my repertoire. I do stand-alone ZB sessions, and I integrate it with biodynamics, TMJ Relief, and more. It makes so much sense to get the body’s structure aligned and energy flowing and then build on that.

If you’re not familiar with ZB but are intrigued, it is a blend of traditional Chinese medicine and manual osteopathic therapy. It began being developed in the 1970s.

I don’t pretend to understand how it works, but it’s the most transformative technique I know for the time spent doing it (20-45 minutes).

To understand the range of responses, read my previous post, What People Say After a Zero Balancing Session.

Your feedback appreciated!

I recently heard from someone who received a TMJ session from me, which includes craniosacral therapy, that after our session, her left ear “opened up”. She said her hearing in that ear had had a muffled quality to it for years, and that the session with me had restored her clear hearing. She was delighted. So was I. She came in for jaw tension.

Transformation continues to occur after a bodywork recipient leaves my office. Their mind may turn to other matters, but I wonder what else they experience in the hours and days after a session that improves their quality of life that I may never learn about, because next time they come in, they’ve forgotten.

I love to thank my clients for coming in for a session. I am so grateful that I get to do this for a living. It’s an honor to be trusted and a challenge to live up to that.

I’m changing the day that thank-you email gets sent. Instead of sending it the day after the session, I’ll be sending it two days later.

Besides conveying my gratitude, I hope to learn whether the work helped someone sleep better, improved their performance at work, increased mental clarity, affected their mood, improved their sensing abilities, resolved a different physical issue, balanced their energy, deepened their sense of self, or anything else — whether it was the goal of the session or not.

My business is transformation, and I am endlessly curious about it. The human body/mind/field/system is so complex, it’s like the flap of that butterfly’s wings in Brazil contributing to a tornado in Texas. I can’t always take credit for what actually happens, but I do like to know about it, as much as we can know.

 

 

Treating TMJ issues: the role of the sphenoid in structural health

The sphenoid bone is one of the most fascinating bones in the body! If you were looking at someone and could see their bones, the sphenoid would be behind their eyes and in front of their ears, with the outermost parts (the greater wings) accessible at the temples, and the lowermost parts (the pterygoid processes) being what your internal jaw muscles attach to.

By the way, the word sphenoid comes from the Greek for wedge-shaped. Its shape has been likened to a moth, a bat, a butterfly, and a wasp.

Here’s a picture of it, as viewed from the front.

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 8.53.53 AM
Credit: TeachMeAnatomy

It’s a central cranial bone that does many important things:

  • it connects to your internal jaw muscles
  • muscles involved in swallowing are attached to it
  • it helps form the orbits of your eyes
  • the optic nerves meet, cross, and pass through it
  • your pituitary (master gland) sit on top of it (in a saddle!)
  • it contains two air sinuses, the sphenoidal sinuses, which open into the nasal cavity through the ethmoid bone
  • it has openings for major blood vessels and nerves of the head and neck
  • the tentorium cerebelli, part of the membranous system surrounding the central nervous system down to the sacrum, attaches to the sphenoid

The sphenoid has been called the keystone bone. It touches 12 other cranial bones: two parietals, two temporals, two zygomas, two palatines, frontal, occipital, ethmoid, and vomer.

The place where the sphenoid and occiput meet is called the sphenobasilar joint (SBJ). (The occiput is considered the base of the cranium.) You can see the SBJ in the middle of the image below where the orange and yellow bones meet.

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 8.58.35 AM
Credit: TeachMeAnatomy

The alignment of this joint is important. William Sutherland, DO, father of cranial osteopathy, believed that the rest of the skeletal system moves to accommodate the SBJ. If the two bones are not aligned well, it can affect the endocrine, nervous, and cardiovascular systems as well.

Misalignment of the SBJ can obviously affect other cranial bones, which fit closely together. It can contribute to TMJ pain and dysfunction.

When the SBJ is misaligned, it affects the jaw. (Remember, your internal jaw muscles attach to it.) It is also a consideration in migraines, headaches, sinus problems and allergies, pain in the head, neck, and back, scoliosis, issues with eye movements, and problems with behavior, personality, learning, coordination, hormones, and emotions.

This is how the sphenoid bone can affect the structure of the body. Craniosacral therapists pay a lot of attention to the sphenoid and can gently move it into better alignment. I like to end TMJ Relief sessions with a gentle adjustment to the sphenoid and a stillpoint to let the body integrate the new alignment.