“Standing down” and being centered over the Bubbling Springs, with awareness of the 9 points of the foot, is the beginning of understanding how to find center and maintain equilibrium. Another mechanism to find equilibrium is the Hyoid bone. Located just below the jaw, the Hyoid is a U-shaped bone that is free floating at the neck, and which is held in place by several different muscles that hold up the head, support the neck and upper back. It is not directly attached to any other bone. The hyoid acts like a gyroscope for our body, and it sends information back to the brain about equilibrium. The proprioceptors of the hyoid muscles allow the brain to assess and process information from the body as well as the cerebellum. The muscles that support the hyoid include attachments at the skull, mandible, sternum (chest), clavicle (collarbone) and scapula (upper back). That is a lot of information being fed into the brain at one time. Tension held in the neck can impinge freedom of the hyoid and decrease the bodies awareness of its position in space.
There are several difficulties that people can be challenged by when the hyoid bone is not free floating. Below is a potential list of considerations:
Problems with the tongue
Chewing or swallowing
Coordination challenges with right and left, front and back, or up and down
Difficulty coordinating walking or running using opposite hand to foot
Gait challenges in relation to moving forward, sideways, jumping, backwards (easily tripping)
Hemispheric dominance problems
Neurological disorganization problems.
Further, tight muscles through the neck can also create challenges with head turning, lifting or dropping the head, taste, snoring, saliva production which aids digestion, headaches, upper back aches, spinal alignment and more.
You can palpitate the Hyoid bone by gently moving it back and forth to ensure it is free moving. This can be done while walking forward, backward and sideways as well. Neck stretches can also be added to further enhance the freedom and flexibility of the neck muscles, tendons, fascia and ligaments running through this area. Be gentle, do not overstress the area, and keep the tongue to the roof of the mouth during this exercise to keep the flow of energy continuous through the area.
1. Lift and drop. Begun with a lift of the jaw to rotate the skull, pivot the head freely back as far as is comfortable. Be careful not to crunch the head back and squish the vertebrae in the neck. Then, lift the head to support it freely on top of the spine and then rotate the head forward and feel the stretch down the back of the neck and upper back. There should be no pain and all movements should be within your strength capabilities. Hold each position for at least 15 – 20 seconds.
2. Side to Side. Keeping the shoulders relaxed, turn the head to the side as far as is comfortable. Be aware of the level of the eyes so that they are maintaining a horizontal balance. Hold for at least 15 – 20 seconds. Pay attention to how the muscles relax and coordinate to provide more flexibility over time. Repeat to the other side.
3. Ear to Shoulder and Nose Up. Drop the ear to the shoulder and hold this position for at least 15 – 20 seconds. Be observant of the muscles in the opposite shoulder, let them relax and stay down. Then, turn the head so the nose reaches towards the ceiling on a 45 degree angle. Continue to keep the tongue to the roof of the mouth throughout, and feel the coordination of muscles, tendons, fascia and ligaments as they reoganize and relax. Hold for 15 – 20 seconds, then return the ear to the shoulder, lift the head up and over the spine to repeat on the other side. This stretch is particularly helpful with snoring and nasal passages.
For each of these stretches, be sure you are fit to move the head in these directions. Be aware of keeping the head suspended freely on top of the spine, and hold the spinal column as straight as possible.
Centering within the body coordinates with the Feet, the Hyoid, and the Cloacal Reflexes (inner ear). Messages received and interpreted by the proprioceptive system are translated into balance, ease of movement and coordination of thought and movement. Take a few minutes to see what position your hyoid bone is in and if you can make a difference for yourself and your balance.