Principles of Owl Anatomy • 4 March 2008

There’s this connection that is suggesting itself to me. Just a basic relationship of body parts—the hips and the jaw—and the way they hold feeling and tension.

I don’t understand what forms the connection or how deep it goes in the physical or subtle body, but I think I can use it. 

The hips are awake; the jaw is reactive and half-asleep. The hips are so open I tend to lose them; the jaw is carrying the crazy trauma of the car accident that pushed me in to this practice… and some nights it still sets to tapping the second I fall asleep.

Survey a mysore room, if you get the chance, and you might see someone open her mouth when she reaches a threshold of hip opening—this seems to happen when practice reaches into a pretty deep layer of subconsciousness. And too, there’s the beautiful response in scalenes and neck and trapezius that signals a certain layer of baddha konasana release—I can only guess there’s some cleansing of the giant trijiminal nerve going on at that signal moment.

When there is tension in the hips, I know this immediately and take it away. But the jaw holds pain and frustration chronically, without my even feeling it most of the time. My molars, the dentist tells me, resemble those of a woman of 40 or 50. I tell him vegetables take a lot of chewing, but he asserts I’ve been grinding away unconsciously for much of my life.

So I’m trying to create a new circuit. The jaw is silent, the hips are loud: is there a way to get the hips to alert me when their relative the jaw is all seized up?  

It’s actually working. A kind of twinge in the front hip flexors cues me to release the layers of tissue in this overdeveloped mandible. Makes me wonder if the hip-jaw connection is something true to the subtle anatomy of more than just owls.

There’s a thread here on “the hip/jaw connection,” but it feels like desultory speculation. These people are obsessed with talk of body parts and may have a “sphincter/little toe connection” forum for all I know. (Such a connection exists, actually, but that's a whole other topic.)

That’s all for the google, but I’m thinking of the craniosacral therapist who worked on me for months after I woke up from that life-altering concussion with my mandible smashed back in to my head and a bone chip sheared off my chin by the force of its blow on the pavement. This therapist may as well have been soothsaying for all I could detect of her micromovements and weirdly rhythmic breath. The fact that she spent so much time with her hand on my tailbone—miles from the pain in my head—annoyed me. And it was tough for her in the university hospital physical therapy offices—since colleagues thought she wasn’t doing anything. They’d walk by and make skeptical little comments.

But she was the only one—amid steroid treatments, massive doses of muscle relaxants and more movement-based physical therapy—that provided any relief, and just at the freaky point when the surgeon started talking about knives. I guess the university keeps her around because lost-cases like me respond, and she is cheaper than the invasive solutions. She was just a licensed physical therapist with exceptionally good hands and an interest in continuing education, and I suppose if I talked to her now and tried out my idea of kundalini getting sidetracked in the bottom corners of the head, she’d feel I was making light of her highly technical craft. Amazing that a western physician could feel in me a connection years and several ashtanga revolutions before I’d ever even begin feeling it in myself.