Posture: Yawn Tech (Beta)
Step 1: Neutralize Your Jaw
Your jaw needs to be either neutral or smiling in life. When it clenches, it has a downstream effect on the whole body that contracts everything.
The following (very simple) exercise can be done sitting, standing or lying, at any time, to neutralize the jaw and, in fact, to remove part of the mind–body feedback loop that reinforces emotional states. So, for example, neutralizing your jaw can be done immediately to help end states of anger or poutiness.
This will be done stood up in this case as it is a preparation for the next step.
- Put lips together gently.
- Blow air very gently into your cheeks and chin so they puff up just a little bit.
- Feel that your jaw is now sitting in its own “cavity”. The slightly puffed-up cheeks and chin add what feels like a volume of space around the jaw. Notice that, sat in this cavity, it is completely relaxed.
- Now, smile gently, using your face muscles, not your jaw. So, you should find that your muscles around your eyes play a far greater role in creating the smile, and that the smile is being gently pulled towards the ears.
This can be used as a state-breaker at any point during the day. If you find yourself tense for any reason, do the above.
I also recommend that you go to sleep with a neutral jaw, with no pillow. I believe a main reason for poor posture is the misalignment of the jaw that sleeping with a “crook neck” on a pillow conditions into you. Bad stuff, guys. No pillow from here on out. You may find that, lying in bed, neutralizing the jaw immediately causes tremors. This is a good thing since it shows that the misalignment is resolving itself.
Maintaining a neutral or smiling jaw is also a brilliant mindfulness meditation for daily life. It means you now have a built-in “scanner” for tense moods. If at any point you notice a tense jaw, make it neutral. If you are anything like me you might find that you had a tense jaw often, especially during computer work. Just keep an eye on it. It is surprisingly fast to condition a neutral or smiling jaw as your default state. After a couple of days you might find you are running this completely on autopilot, and haven’t made a tense face in hours or even days. Seriously, this is that good.
Step 2: Smile-Yawn
Here is the zinger.
- Stand up, feet shoulder-width apart, arms down by sides.
- Neutralize the jaw and smile by following the exact steps above.
- Look up.
- Gently cup your tongue, like in the below picture but not as exaggerated:
- Begin sucking air in gently, through your nose at first then through your mouth too as it opens.
- While smiling, begin opening the mouth by pulling the cupped tongue down vertically towards your feet. So, you are literally using your tongue to drag your jaw open and down, and the tongue is always pulling downwards in a straight vertical line towards the ground. This mouth opening sequence is driven entirely by the tongue pulling downwards, and you breathe in during this.
- You should feel all sorts of nerves activating and spaces opening up in the lower back (and everywhere else, in fact). If you have a particularly tight back then just opening the jaw fully in this way may take 30 seconds or even longer.
- The tongue should pull the jaw open downwards through resistance. During this you should be hearing a “rushing noise” in your ears as your inner ear is opened up, as the tongue pulls through resistance.
- The throat should also feel like it is opening up, as though the “channel” of the throat is expanding downwards and outwards into the body as you breathe in and pull the tongue down.
- Your arms should completely relax and in fact be allowed to slide downwards during this.
- The head will likely want to come back even more during this and that should be allowed.
- Sucking air in through the mouth should be done gently during this till you are fully inflated. However, if your attention gets split at any point, then you should give priority to the tongue pulling downwards and the throat opening up rather than the breath.
- Bring awareness to any tight areas in the body while doing this. Mental awareness of these spots induces REM which helps resolve them.
- “Eye scrunches” and other characteristics of a yawn may take place. Of course, these are completely to be encouraged! You should aim to get into these aspects and ride with them, but it’s no big deal if they don’t happen.
After the sequence, which may take 30 seconds or even a full minute to complete if you are really stiff, you will hopefully find that:
- Your eyes teared.
- You now feel very blissful and even “high”.
- It is now far easier to smile, the jaw is more neutral by default, and you have greater freedom in your body and mind.
- Just regular breathing now induces piti (pleasure).
- You are now stood up very straight. In fact, I urge you to do this in front of a mirror, looking before and after at the curve of your lower back to see how much this exercise straightened it out in no time at all.
My advice now is to immediately repeat this sequence several more times (in a relaxed manner), using the tongue to find and pull down through resistance. Find major blocks and pull through them while smiling. The first several times you do this will make major positive changes to the structure of your body.
After this initial period however you will just be performing the sequence for maintenance purposes. The sequence should be performed every time you stand up, either from lying in bed or sitting. It is especially useful immediately after computer work to undo the harmful effects of sitting at the screen.
The above sequence should be your “primary yawn”. If however on subsequent sequences you wish to extend the arms or legs or make other stretching movements, be my guest. You can be creative with it but my advice is to try and follow your body’s natural instincts.
Also bear in mind that the tongue pulling downwards is the primary catalyst for internal body straightening. This is because the tongue is one of the few muscles which connects to literally all the myofascial sheets in the whole body. I think about it like this: Imagine a sock that has been half turned inside-out. Now grab the toe end of the sock and pull it, imagining that this straightens out the whole sock so it is no longer inside-out. The toe end of the sock is your tongue. It connects to all connective tissue (fascia) in your whole body and can be tugged on to straighten it all out. The other place where this can happen is in fact the anus, and you will notice that, while doing the yawning sequence, the anus will clench and draw upward into the body, completing the other end of the “straightening out the sock” analogy.
I could talk all day about how and why yawning works. If you check the Wikipedia page on yawning you will find that they have consistently missed the boat in every theory. It’s pathetic, really. My model would effectively replace that entire page. However, the important thing is that we got the tech out of it, and I’m eager to hear your results. 🙂