Unlock Pleasure’s Yawning Practice for Healing and Wellness

Unlock Pleasure’s Yawning Practice for Healing and Wellness

Yawning helps you become aware of a ‘felt sense’ of your own physical being. This embodied self-awareness includes your body’s sensations (the you in your body), as well as the organic intelligence that’s held and accessed through your body. Embodied self-awareness compliments and enriches conceptual self-awareness; that’s the intellectual awareness we usually rely on to understand and experience ourselves.

Yawning helps you become aware of a ‘felt sense’ of your own physical being. This embodied self-awareness includes your body’s sensations (the you in your body), as well as the organic intelligence that’s held and accessed through your body. Embodied self-awareness compliments and enriches conceptual self-awareness; that’s the intellectual awareness we usually rely on to understand and experience ourselves. 

Here are some facts about yawning that explain how it increases embodied self-awareness and benefits us in many ways.

• Yawning activates the vagus nerve – a part of the para-sympathetic nervous system that works for rest and repair.  When this system kicks in, beneficial neuro-chemicals flood forward to promote pleasurable feelings, sensuality, relaxation, sense of wellbeing and bonding between individuals. Yawning together is great glue for relationships!

• On the emotional level yawning helps us be more self-aware and introspective. It calms an over-active nervous system response to prolonged stress or trauma. Yawning indicates we’re shifting to the rest and repair cycle of the parasympathetic stream. 

• Yawning has been shown to increase social awareness and capacity for empathy.

• Yawning helps wake us up and be more mentally alert, so is a good activity for your breaks from tasks that require focused attention.

• Yawning helps reset our internal clocks when we get out of daily rhythms, such as when missing sleep during travel, illness or sleep interruptions at night.  It helps with jetlag and the effects of high altitudes as well. 

• Even though yawning wakes up the brain, it can be used as a sleep aid because it also deeply relaxes us.

• Yawning is useful in all stressful situations, such as when you’re feeling reactive, anxious, stressed, or have to preform in a meeting, social settings or the performing arts. 

Here’s the practice:

When you notice you’re stressed, disconnected, feeling unfocused or are when you need a refreshing break, think about yawning.  Yawning is very susceptible to suggestion and is contagious.  If you need help getting going, watch this video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJXX4vF6Zh0 - it’s guaranteed to get you going.

At first you may need to simulate a yawn. Open your mouth wide and draw in a deep breath.  A few faked yawns will usually set off a cascade of real ones. It’s important to keep it up for a few minutes for the full effect; by 10-14 yawns you will be feeling the positive impact.

Coach yourself past any social awkwardness about yawning.  It’s not rude; it doesn’t necessarily signals disinterest or boredom. Quite the contrary – it’s an action to wake up and bring you to the present moment. 

Yawing is akin to yogic breathing, meditation and exercise in its ability to refresh and renew, and increase your capacity to be present to yourself and others in a positive and engaged manner. 

Resources to learn more:

Alan Fogel. 2009. Body Sense: the Science and Practice of Embodied Self-Awareness

http://www.upenn.edu/gazette/1109/expert.html.

http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/health/why-do-we-yawn/

- Prepared by Madeline Dietrich M.A. of Unlock Pleasure
April 2016

“I had signed up for the workshop with a vague idea of validating whether or not beekeeping was something I wanted to get back into, so wanted the real experience and ‘instruction’ around hive life.  But I also wanted to spend time in the imaginative life of beekeeping – so the poetry, and your story of bees as a significant part of your healing journey was really important.  Sensing into your relationship with them - the calm, the respect, the love – was an important part of witnessing how a relationship with bees teaches those very things.  I loved how the different activities dove-tailed so well into one another.  The ‘energy meditation’ of approaching the hive taught me well about respect for boundaries, and the deep purposefulness of their lives.  We can co-exist beautifully as long as I ‘let them bee.’ “

Jean Ogilvie Leadership Development Facilitator and Coach