Reduce Tension By Thinking Tall And Loose

For the past few days I’ve been noticing a bit of tension in my jaw. I don’t think the tension is new. Rather, I think the awareness of the tension is new.

For much (most) of my life, I have carried tension in that area – jaw, neck, and shoulders. In the past, I would not become aware of the tension until it became acute and painful. Now, as I continue to deepen my awareness of my inner state – thoughts, feelings, beliefs – I find that my awareness of the state of my body is naturally heightened and I am noticing the tension in the early stages.

So noticing this tension is not a bad thing. If you want to change something you must be aware of it first.

I find it interesting though not surprising that this awareness has blossomed after reading the post Look Like A Million Dollars on Noel Kingsley’s blog.

Noel writes:

In order to maintain your proper slim shape, you should free your neck and ‘send’ your head upwards. Do this by thinking only. Also think of your back lengthening. Your body is very springy and it’s more than likely that your full height is taller than you normally experience. The important thing is that you don’t make physical effort to achieve this as you will only get stiff. Think loose and tall as often as you can. You are tapping into the natural instinct you have for good poise that you’ve had from birth.

It’s impossible for me to “think loose and tall” and continue to carry the tension in my jaw. I’ve been practicing this technique whenever I catch myself holding some tension in that area. I’ll stop and breath into my jaw, neck and shoulders. I’ll pull my head back slightly so that it is resting comfortably above my shoulders and I’ll imagine my head being gently pulled upwards like a hot air balloon tugging on its tethers.

This technique is especially helpful to me when I am sitting at my desk for a long stretch. I’ll catch myself beginning to hunch forward and compress down towards my keyboard. Remembering to think loose and tall helps restore a more supportive posture.

So if you want to feel more relaxed, reduce tension and maybe even gain a bit of height, remember to think loose and tall.

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      7 Responses to “Reduce Tension By Thinking Tall And Loose”

      1. Shelly Fitz on January 31st, 2007 10:03 pm

        I love this. I have become aware of tension in my jaw lately, too, and have been looking for ways that I can relax it. This is a great mental exercise which I find to be effective on a physical level. Posture is improved immediately…simply by thinking “tall and loose.” I’m likin’ this tid bit.

      2. Edward Mills on February 1st, 2007 7:34 am

        Hi Shelly. I”m glad this is working for you. I can’t imagine why you would be feeling tension in your jaw! (Sorry, inside joke folks).

      3. Justin Ruckman on February 9th, 2007 8:37 am

        I’ve been doing this lately — not from jaw tension, but as a side effect of swimming. A tall, loose form is ideal for cutting through the water, and when I step out of the pool I can see a noticable difference in my posture. More importantly I can feel it — the difference between my current form and the form I was settling for before.

        This feeling stays with me for at least a day as I slip back into habit assuming I don’t go swimming again, but I imagine a little bit gets hard coded each time.

      4. Edward Mills on February 9th, 2007 1:47 pm

        Hi Justin.

        Thanks for the comment. You’ve reminded me how much I love swimming. I too, love that lengthened feeling that comes from having the full effects of gravity diluted – so to speak – by the water.

        I may just head over to the pool and go for a swim.

      5. Evolving Times » Pilates: Build Strength Increase Awareness and Gain Energy on August 23rd, 2007 10:32 am

        […] to the rest of my life. Now, when I am typing, I usually notice pretty quickly if I am tensing my neck and shoulders. I notice when my head is shifting forward. I notice when my core has gone soft and I’m slouching […]

      6. linda ahuna on November 15th, 2007 6:33 am


        Is “tension thinking” a psychiatric term used to describe someone who is about to physically do something because the thoughts are building up?


      7. Edward Mills on November 16th, 2007 4:23 pm

        Linda. I don’t see the term “tension thinking” in the article. Are you pulling that from elsewhere?

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