I wanted to write a bit more about yawning to introduce a term I use when I work with my clients; pandiculation. Before ending each session, this is one of my tips to them before they get up off my therapy table. I invite them to have a deep, healing yawn and stretch.
I learnt about pandiculation whilst I was studying in São Paulo. Pandiculation from the Latin “pandiculare”, meaning “to stretch” oneself. Wikipedia defines it as yawning and stretching simultaneously.
As highlighted in my Blog on “Can YOU s-t-r-e-t-c-h to a yawn?“, the act of yawning / pandiculation has both a ‘wake’ and an ‘auto’ regulatory function.
Let’s take a closer look at the latter through the lens of structural integration and fascia (the fibroelastic connective tissue in your body which wraps and penetrates every muscle, tendon, ligament and organ of your body). We know how primordial pandiculation is because we see it displayed by animals all the time. We’ve seen babies developing in the womb pandiculate and our bodies do it for us involuntarily.
When you stretch you use voluntary muscle action to perform the stretch. Pandiculation is the involuntary, deeper muscle contraction. The sensation of pandiculation is the feeling you get when you do an involuntary, deep yawn. The stretch sensation goes deeper and wider throughout your body and simultaneously boosts your emotional wellbeing. Your body tells you the stretch was pleasurable.
In my reference article, there is medical research confirming that the frequency of pandiculation correlates with various degrees of health. It shows pandiculation is absent in animals with some systemic diseases and that this act returns to the animal upon recovery.
Amazingly, did you know that a yawn in a coma patient can foretell the patient’s approach to wakefulness?
Our human body is a tensegrity structure; the idea that our bodies are balanced through tension and compression. Using an image of a tent, our bones are the tent poles and we are kept upright through tensioned elements within our body – with the fascia being one of these elements.
We know through evolution, that transitioning from sleep to wakefulness is a vulnerable moment. Pandiculation helps by systematically pre-tensioning the muscles, organs and bones in our bodies to elicit a quicker, more rapid alert response into an awoken state.
This simple yawn-stretch action, triggers work on the fabric of fascial elements; shaping the warp and weft of the fascia by elongating and resting them. This stretch/contraction/rest combination, helps to restore and maintain physiological and musculoskeletal relationships and optimises motor movements.
You pandiculate: you’re in a stretch-contract state, your whole body’s biomechanical system is perfectly tensioned. To get here, your body started in its resting phase >>> each muscle fibre, bundle and compartment glided over one another >>> ligaments and tendons all becoming aligned, tensioned and relaxed >>> and you have been reset!
We frequently see animals stretch each part when they awake. If you watch dogs, we see that they wake up, roll onto their feet, then languidly do the yoga ‘down dog’ stretch. They also stretch their hind legs; this stretch has the quality of a high tonus contraction before a deep release, followed by a shake.
Yoga, Qi Gong, and Tai chi, all in some part through their movements, are reminiscent of this quality of stretch. That quality can be described as a deep tonus strength combined with fluid movement, where the superficial muscles are relaxed.
Whilst our current way of life, with long periods of sitting in front of a computer, texting, and frequent use of mobile phones, can bring about bad postural habits; pandiculation is like hitting a mini reset button.
This strength begins locally and is transmitted throughout your fascial web. Simple, effective muscle repositioning.
I encourage you to pandiculate every morning, to invest in this simple activity; simplistically delicious by its very nature. Create this habit for yourself to enjoy good, long lasting musculoskeletal health.
If you would like to find out more, please contact me through my website, www.mystructuralintegration.com.au.
Resources: Hypothesis – Pandiculation by Luiz Fernando Bertolucci