With the holidays comes a special and very particular brand of stress. It’s special because it sneaks up on us under the guise of festivity and good cheer, and particular because it’s almost always inevitable, no matter how hard we try to avoid it. Even the most mindful people can get caught up in the hustle and bustle of entertaining, being with family, financial woes, work deadlines, and of course the kind of unconscious consumption endemic to American culture.
Fear not! What’s that meme... I’ve got 100 problems and gua sha can solve about 97 of them. We may be biased, but hear us out: Gua sha melts stress-induced tension away. It is common for stress to manifest as tension in our head, neck, and jaw, often more than other places in the body. Besides working to increase circulation, facial gua sha helps release long-held tension in the face, head, jaw, and neck. These places are often overlooked in massage and other self-care treatments like manicures, pedicures, and face masks. Our faces, heads, and jaws need a bit more love.
In addition to these moves with our new Empress Wand, taking a moment to slow down and soak in the benefits of our Empress Tonic, a toner used to prep the skin that’s infused with Bulgarian rosewater, and Empress Oil, which smells like a forest and will instantly transport you to the stunning, craggy, foggy, pine-laden coasts of America’s Pacific Northwest.
Jaw Release Tutorial with the Empress Wand
Pro tip: do each stroke at least three times, move slowly, and don’t forget to breathe.
- Prep the skin by spraying our tonic over the skin and pressing our oil into it.
- Use the tip of the Empress Wand underneath the chin, hook under the jaw bone, and slowly swipe the tool toward the back of the jaw while anchoring the skin under the chin with the thumb of your opposite hand. Use medium to firm pressure, but if skin turns red or it feels uncomfortable, lighten up the pressure.
- With the same motion and direction, slide over the jaw bone (on the side of the face, as opposed to underneath), anchoring with the opposite hand on the side of the chin.
- If you find any knots, breathe into them and move slowly. This can encourage a release.
- Trace under the cheekbone with the hook edge, continuing to move slowly.
- Comb down the jaw bone, and between the cheek and jaw bone. (Let the jaw open if it feels good.)
- Make small, firm circles around the big jaw muscle — the masseter, which is the muscle we use to chew, tighten the jaw, and when we grind our teeth — to encourage release. Ease up on pressure if it feels tender.
- Repeat for the other side.
This is helpful if you get tension headaches or simply need to unwind after a wiry day. If you grind your teeth, taking three minutes to do this in the morning can help bring you into your day with less constriction and more expansion. Have you tried it? Let us know how it feels in the comments below.