We may all be tempted in these days of working from home to enjoy a sneaky lie-in every morning. Without doubt, the extra rest and relaxation is healing after the many years of hectic routine, alarms, rushing to get the family ready and then battling to get to work on public transport.
I invite you to indulge yourself a little further. If you don’t already to this, consciously add in a huge yawn and stretch before you get out of bed.
This simple act each morning will kick start your body in so many beneficial ways, which when I wrote them all down, formed a surprisingly long list!
We are talking a serious work out with:
- Lungs: Yawning sucks in an increased lungful of air to increase the oxygen circulating in your body >>> instantly boosting your vitality and energy.
- Eyes: When you yawn it’s amazing >>> your eyes squeeze shut, contracting the delicate muscles around them, then moisturise and moisten your eye balls so when you open them, your vision brightens >>> sends a jolt to that region of your brain (the precuneus), which deals with consciousness, self- reflection, memory retrieval and yes, alertness!
- Mouth: Yawning gapes your mouth open, your nostrils flare and stretch all of your facial muscles >>> your palate, your lips, your cheeks, your forehead, your chin, from inside to the outside.
- Ears: Can you believe, you’ve also stretched your ears as a result, both the inside and outside. Go on, if you’re curious >>> feel the back of your head, then your temple or gently touch the inside of your ears lightly; you can feel that stretch happening everywhere.
- Neck: The act of yawning causes you to involuntarily tilt back your head. This opens your throat; effectively stretching the front and back of your neck.
- Torso: When you draw in that breath, your diaphragm expands >>> your ribcage stretches >>> you arch your back so all your vertebrae get a wake-up nudge, you get those large back muscles >>> your tummy stretches, waking up your stomach, and these movements start to massage your liver, your intestines and your bladder!
If one thinks in terms of kinetic energy, a yawn stretches your body like a rubber band. All the connective tissue in your body pulls in one direction and then you release. Your body stretches right to its very ‘end of feel` stretch, innately recognising that, this is as far as it can go without hurting – it is arguably the safest stretch you can do for yourself. Energy builds up and up, and then the yawn stops. You release that healing, revitalising energy into your body; direct and instant. Natures little adrenalin shot to wake you up, perfectly created for you and perfectly delivered to you, body wide. Oh, you’ve also expelled that large amount of built up carbon dioxide you had from sleeping in the one position.
There’s not a simpler form of exercise that one can do so quickly, so totally comprehensively which effectively targets your superficial dermis right down to your visceral core. Every single muscle fibre group in your body plus your organs in one-fell-swoop. The ultimate cherry on the cake is that it feels utterly and wonderfully delicious in the process!
Incorporate this one little stretch in your life from this day forth and you won’t regret the investment.
However, there are still a number of mysteries as to why we yawn, what triggers a yawn and what does it mean?
From reading around, there are a number of theories and these seem to be the common ones:
- Yawning protects our ears from changing air pressures. E.g. When we travel on by plane, we yawn to open the eustachian tubes (middle ear), so equalising that higher pressure of air to the lower pressure in the cabin.
- Yawning is contagious – in a good way! This is an uncontrolled, empathetic, primitive response coming from the social behavioural part of our brain.
- Yawning is associated with boredom and drowsiness, and, as discussed above, paradoxically related to waking you up.
- Yawning helps by homeostatically regulating the temperature of blood to your brain.
If you yawned your way through this blog, I hope it was just the thought and imagery which triggered an autonomic response in you, and not that you found it boring!
Go on! Yawn for a vital life.
I delve deeper into yawning and explore its benefits in terms of the structure and function (movement) of your body in my next blog, ‘Forget Pandemic _ Think Pandiculate!’
If you would like to reach out to me, find me here at www.mystructuralintegration.com.au.
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