One of the things I learnt from your yoga classes is the jaw release technique when I am stressed. I cannot believe how much that has slowly helped me with my anxiety. What I have also found is that I didn’t even know how much I used to clench my jaws till I started paying attention when you mention it in class.
The jaw release technique is amazing and instant. I keep talking about it to everyone.
I know! I too was so impressed with it when I first started using it. I found that I recognised my stress as soon as I payed attention to what my jaws where doing! Well done for using the valuable technique outside of our class environment. This is exactly how I hope our classes can impact our lives, not just our pregnancy journey. Let me explain some science behind it all.
But first, here is a bathroom experiment for you to try. Scream at the top of your lungs as if you have seen a scary monster.Where did you ‘feel’ that sound? The pitch of the sound, did it reverberate through your head?
Here is another, what happens when a dear friend shares something unfortunate with you? That sound that comes out of you when you hear the bad news? Where do you feel the ‘aaw’?
And the last sound. You come back home after a long day. You finally sink into the sofa and kick off your heels… that sound you make as you sink in, where did you feel that?
I would highly recommend you try these three different sounds. It is quite an amazing experience to ‘feel’ sound in your body. The vibrations your vocal cords make are not restricted to your throat.
High pitched sounds rattle your brains and make you alert, flood your system with adrenaline and you have to mostly clench your jaws to make a really high-pitched sound. The kind our ancestors would have used to alert their companions of an oncoming cheetah.
The sound you feel when you connect with a loved one is the pitch that you can feel in your chest, thoracic cavity and upper back, I guess that’s why people use the term “heart connection”
And that deep guttural sound that comes from slacking our jaws and letting go of muscular tension as you sink into your sofa can be felt in the pit of your belly. That’s a deep low octave sigh. That’s the feeling of calm, relaxation and letting go.
These different sounds are an information source of our emotional states and our hormones respond accordingly. When you hear another high-pitched sound from somewhere, you get agitated. When you can hear the compassion and empathy in the heart sound you feel connected and when you release your muscular tension with deep guttural sounds you feel relaxed.
Using the power of your sound during birth is one of the oldest tricks in the book. It’s so old that we do it instinctively. When left alone women make deep sounds while giving birth. Unlike what television may have you believe women don’t actually choose to scream during birth.
There are many cultures where women collectively sing to encourage the birthing mother to sign along. Guess what singing does? It allows you to slacken your jaws and when you do that the brain interprets the message as relaxation, induces relaxation hormones, particularly the ever-important oxytocin (the hormone that flourishes in times of love, safety and comfort). More oxytocin levels also mean less cortisol and adrenaline (less stress).
The sounds we feel is not just for when we birth our babies, it’s the very calming tool we can use whilst mothering. Our simple humming and low-pitched sounds we make to put our babies to sleep is another example of how our brains perceive sounds as proxy for emotional states.
Use your sound to change or regulate your emotions which will help you regulate your hormonal environment too and thus manage stress and anxiety.