Rami's Blog

Like the Yin-Yang, Eastern Martial Arts and Western medicine are two halves of a whole. My mission is to preserve the ancient mind-body tools, and pass them on to you.


The Soft Tissue Tension You Don't Know You Have

I've been posting a lot of exercises, stretches, and tips for upper back and neck problems recently. If you've found them helpful, be on the look-out for my upcoming course on upper back pain relief. I'm finishing up this upper body series next week with the first installment in a new video segment called "Hey Rami!" where I answer questions from clients, patients, and customers.

This week, we're talking about a group of muscles that everyone uses everyday, but few people ever stretch and relax: facial muscles. There is a lot of technique and mental preparation involved in the face meditation that I detail in my Sunset Tai Chi book. For people who want a quick taste of what is it like to relax your facial muscles, try this mini meditation:

  • First, open your mouth wide, like you were yawning, but keep your eyes wide open. Hold this for a few seconds. (I know, it looks weird!) This is to balance the usual, scrunched state that our faces take on during the day while we pour over emails and textbooks.
  • Now, start doing deep breathing like I've posted about here. Make sure you are in a comfortable sitting or standing position. You will be maintaining the meditation for about 5 minutes, and the goal is to be as still as possible.
  • Relax the muscles in your face as much as you can. This is 20% body control and 80% mind control. When I do it, I picture my face in layers, like an onion. Each layer of my face has its own tension, and I visualize peeling away that tension layer by layer.

And that's it! You won't believe how much tension you can hold in your face. Consider the reasons you hold tension in certain muscles in your face while doing the meditation. Are your cheeks tense because your job requires you to smile all day? Do you work in the sun a lot? That may lead to a constant furrow in your brow. Do this meditation in a dark room. It will help the muscles in and around the eyes relax.