Self-tape warm-up #2: Vagus-Focused Face and Neck Massage

It’s self-tape self-care week here on the blog. I’m sharing nervous system warm-ups and somatic meditations that help me with making videos of myself. I hope they are helpful to you!

In general, when I tape an audition, I’m trying to keep my eyeline as close to the camera lens as possible. This can introduce some facial tension that I don’t even notice until I play back the take. 

It’s amazing how quickly my face relaxes when I gently massage a few muscles known to be correlated with the vagus nerve. It lets my expressive muscles be more at ease and more open to creative choices.

Fully aware of the irony of making self-tape about strategies for making self-tape, I have not prepared a video to demonstrate these points. Instead, please enjoy this diagram I constructed using a photo of a wax figure of Freddie Mercury.

Gently massage: 

  1. Masseter and ptergoid (AKA jaw clenchers)
  2. Levator labii superioris alaeque nasi (AKA nose-scruncher — Translated from Latin, the “lifter of both the upper lip and of the wing of the nose.” Fun fact: This is the longest name of any muscle in an animal!)
  3. Procerus (AKA third-eye ball, the scrutiny muscle!)
  4. Temporalis (AKA your temples)
  5. Cymba conchae (the shell-shaped insides of your earlobes) and
  6. Muscles of stress respiration (gently massage across the jawline and throat from ear to ear, sweeping your hand in one direction while turning your head in the opposite direction.)

Here is a great how-to video from Jill Miller, if you’d like to follow along. You can use small massage balls here, but I’ve found using my hands works nicely as well.

Try it and let me know what you think!


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