How often do we “grit our teeth and bear it”? Where does this habit of clenching and grinding come from? Why does stress manifest in the jaw? Join Cator Shachoy, craniosacral master teacher for her upcoming workshop on October 16th from 2-5pm at The Mindful Body. Learn more here.


The jaw is so beautifully designed, that there is virtually no pressure on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) when chewing with proper alignment. The joint itself should be stress free. Similar to knees, hips, and ankles – when things are lined up and moving properly, the joints don’t take the stress. It’s when things are not aligned that problems arise. So what throws the jaw off? Let’s take a look….


The fulcrum of movement for opening and closing your mouth is between C1 & C2 – the top two vertebra (known as Guzay’s Theorem). Every time your mouth opens and closes, you are influencing the upper neck and base of skull. The jaw and neck are intimately intertwined. Which means, if you have neck tension, you will have jaw tension. guaranteed.


So… why do we have neck tension? Here’s a short list…


  • Vision – straining to see (computer, cell phone, tv, reading…)
  • Braces – the jaw muscles can contract even 20 years later
  • Whiplash – even if it “doesn’t seem too bad”, if it’s not treated, it can compress over time
  • Head trauma – a blow to the head, face, jaw, or slip and fall injury… any of these can throw off the neck or jaw even if they were not directly touched.
  • Stress – stress is usually not the originator, it is the amplifier
  • Trauma – physical, emotional, sexual. The jaw is hardwired into the ‘old brain’ fight-flight-freeze sympathetic nervous system response via trigeminal nerve. Clenching can be a primal instinct of our animal nature to survive.
  • Hormones – Estrogen receptor sites in the mandible (and throughout the skeleton) mean that as hormone levels change, the TMJ can change…. some women experience more clenching at different times in their cycle.
  • Scoliosis – frequently there is a very subtle upper neck curve. It may seem insignificant. It tends to grow greater as we age. This is enough to impact the jaw.
  • Psoas – this incredible muscle and the jaw have a special relationship.
  • Birthing – yes, unresolved birth trauma can lay a foundation for an imbalanced jaw.


    Jaw tension is complex, with many factors…. but it can be unraveled through receiving regular cranial work, relaxation, mindfulness… paying attention into the causes of clenching and grinding. Jaw tension can become a journey of self discovery.


Don’t miss out on this incredible workshop coming up this weekend at The Mindful Body, October 16th from 2-5pm to help you learn and solve some of your jaw tensions!

Sign up online here



Cator Shachoy began the practices of yoga, mindfulness meditation, and energy healing in 1990 to heal chronic illness. Through the regular practice of these disciplines, she recovered her strength and vitality. Cator is an E-RYT 500 through Yoga Alliance, and completed yoga teacher training through both the Iyengar Yoga Inst. of SF & Kripalu Yoga Center. She is a Mindfulness teacher, and is a certified practitioner of Visionary Craniosacral Bodywork through the Milne Institute. Cator has taught Yoga & mindfulness meditation to both adults and youth in SF since 1995. Learn more about Cator at 

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