Let the finger pads rest on the angle of the mandible, or the lower border of mandible.
Reach across to contact one TMJ
By reaching across the skull you can contact either side of the temporal mandibular joint. The upper hand is on the temporal bone, the inferior hand is on the ramus of the mandible.
Orienting to the temporal bones and alignment of the jaw
1. Start at the innominate bones
Take time to really establish resources, check in verbally, negotiate contact and wait for the holistic shift. Orient to midtide
The innominate bones often resonate with the temporals.
2. Explore the shapes in the whole skull
Using the vault or cradle holds move to the head. Differentiate between the neurocranium and the viscerocranium (facial complex).
Do you notice any shapes through the boney facial complex? Does one side feel different to the other?
Explore the muscles of the jaw. Can you orient to the sling made by the masseter and the medial pterygoid muscle? Can you get a sense of the tension in the lateral pterygoids?
How is the mandible held in relationship to the cranial base?
3. Move to the temporal ear hold
Orient particularly to the dynamics of the temporal bones.
Can you support a state of balance through the whole cranium through your contact at the temporals?
Can you feel the temporal bones roll in and out evenly with phases of the tide?
4. Contact the angles of the mandible
Explore how inhale and exhale is expressed through the mandible. Can you feel the jaw widening on inhale?
Is there still a sense of uneven movement? Often the work at temporals resolves many dynamics of the jaw. However the additional intention of inferior and anterior space on the mandible can be useful.
Muscles of the jaw
The muscles of mastication are very powerful. The temporalis and masseter are familiar to most people and easily palpated on the external surfaces of the skull. On clenching the jaw you can feel the fibres of the temporalis contracting on the side of the head superior and anterior to the ear. The masseter is easily felt passing from the zygomatic arch to the angle of the mandible.
Harder to feel, and to visualise, are the very important pterygoid muscles. They are anchored on the pterygoid processes of the sphenoid. The medial pterygoid forms a sling with the masseter. The medial pterygoid, the temporalis and the masseter muscles all strongly close the jaw and are involved in chewing. Orienting to the sling of muscles a very useful awareness
The lateral pterygoid muscles open the jaw (along with gravity and some of the muscles connecting to the hyoid - not shown here). What is interesting is that it attaches into the joint capsule of the TMJ and, even deeper, connects to the anterior part of the articular disc.