Yawning: Contagious Relaxation
I mean it.. Yawn!
If you don’t feel a yawn coming on, that’s ok. Just fake it a few times, and you should find yourself yawning for real in a moment or two.
Now, take note of how you feel… maybe more relaxed? more focused? (If the yawn made you sleepier, maybe you’re a wee bit sleep deprived and a nap is in order.)
So what’s going on here? I wrote this about it elsewhere:
“Yawning has a pretty darn profound effect on the ol’ grey matter. It increases blood flow, cools the brain, increases alertness, improves focus, regulates sleep cycles, kicks off a whole cocktail of important neuro-chemicals, and… get this… reduces stress and anxiety.”
Yawning triggers activity in the brain that are involved in social awareness and empathy reside – which explains why yawns are contagious. And research suggests that those same brain-bits are probably related to consciousness, self reflection, self awareness, memory retrieval, and so on. It’s also a part of the brain that is hardest hit by by age-related cognitive declines, diseases, and even ADD. And guess what else activates this empathy-producing, consciousness raising, ADD fighting part of the brain?
Yogic breathing – a type of mindful, conscious and controlled breathing found in many meditation systems.
This is me again:
“The yawning link to Yogic breathing and meditation makes some sense, what with the relationships between yawning, empathy, consciousness and awareness. Plus, there’s all the modern research on long-term meditators and how they have lower risks of cognitive decline, not to mention their very un-ADD-like relentless ability to stay focused.”
I thought it was interesting, anyway… Interesting enough to make this the very first popcorn-bite of relaxation, here on Circus Serene! Yawning is simple to do, free, portable, and requires no prep or equipment, making it a great go-to first line of defense when you need an extra dose of focus or relaxation. Try it before a study session, a meeting, a client phone call – or use it’s contagious effect to help relax others around you.
Now, fess up…
How many times did you yawn, reading this?
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