What yawning can do for us and how society thinks about it are two totally different things. It seems strange to open your mouth so wide and even make these strange sounds, but this “gesture” is widely spread, also among animals. Hence, the question is if yawning is just something that should be ruled by societal conventions? Or is it something that has a deeper meaning and therefore should be promoted.
In order to function, each body needs some moments of quietude and relaxation in which it can ideally also restructure. Yawning fulfils many tasks and the probably most important are the previously described main areas.
Haven’t you ever noticed how nice a full yawning is? Your mouth opens, your breathing becomes deeper and you shortly have the feeling as if everything would fit into your mouth as in the final phase of yawning it seems to get bigger than your head?
Strictly seen, yawning is a whole body movement. In different areas the structure stretches, presses together or tightens up. More muscles than the chewing muscles are involved in yawning. Hence, also the effects of fulfilled yawning are wide-reaching. If yawning is suppressed this has just as many effects on the general condition, but in the reverse direction. Yawning stretches and activates the muscles in the jar and the neck, tensions that accumulated there get dissolved and the whole body reaches a comfortably floating state. Often, yawning is seen as a sign of tiredness, laziness and even disinterest. This is a restricted view of things. Even though it is true that you yawn more often when you are tired or want to relax but it has nothing to do with disinterest. One of the main reasons for yawning often appears together with tiredness is that in these moments the body is already in a condition in which it needs rest. Mostly because too many tensions accumulated in the body during the day or it has simply done a lot of physical or mental work.
Excursion: Purely mental work doesn’t exist! Biologically seen the brain needs a lot of energy to maintain thinking processes and additionally steer the body. Also, the mental field is one of the more body-related fields. This means that whatever you are thinking manifests in the body on a biochemical and cellular level, as well as in the muscles (more on this in another article).
Yawning has a direct effect on the upper muscles of the head. Those are the jointed connections between the cranium and the first cervical vertebra, or the first and second respectively. In this area there is a neurological instalment which “measures” the tension of the neck and jaw muscles and based on this information regulates the basic stress condition of the body. This “installation” belongs to the reflex arches, i.e. to a part which unconsciously performs a balancing and regulating function. Everything you do to keep the muscles in the areas of the neck and the jaw free from stress supports your physical and psychological wellbeing considerably. The whole area of the head is a complex construction which is put together from a high number of differently formed bones which are all in relation to each other. Thus, also the upper denture has for example more tissue-connections than most of the other anatomical structures. This means that every little change in the relation of these little bones and every little difference in the tension in the head instantly affects the whole body.
If you suppress a natural impulse of the body it rarely has positive effects. This especially applies to an impulse which should relax and straighten the body again. I therefore strongly suggest to learn hearty yawning if you don’t do it already anyway.
Choose health! I keep on saying to people “If you already want to comply with societal rules, at least hold a hand or something else in front of your mouth to cover it, but still allow yourself the pleasure of a hearty yawning!” What else do you think does yawning effectuate? Right, it conveys security! The body would never go into a state of relaxation if there is some kind of danger. You can also observe that for example in horses. If it snorts and stands relaxed on the grass and lets its head hang lose then also the surrounding horses begin to relax. The human as the “gregarious animal number one” is not any different, which explains part of the contagious effect of yawning. It is a gesture of shelter, whether it is in the form of an emotional or psychological feeling of safety or in the form of a factual and material space in which one is being well kept.
It might already dawn to some people what this means. Right! It means that if you are in a lecture and start yawning, the lecturer managed to build up a calm and safe room in which you can listen to the topic and be totally relaxed. Every lecturer can be glad to have established such an atmosphere, as everything else means that a lot of potential stress lies in the room, which is counterproductive for every form of efficient conveyance of knowledge and productive work.
Norms of society are a mental construct which serves nobody and restricts physical processes. I can also assure you that your soul doesn’t leave your body during yawning. A believe that was widely spread in some cultures. For a long time it has not been comprehended or made something that seemed unclear, thus it was often used by the ruling class to set certain rules and restrictions. Do you feel good after yawning? Yes? Well, there is nothing unclear about that, right? You can instantly say that yawning makes you feel good, relaxed and balanced. Everything else is guilt or a feeling of shame which doesn’t derive from the true body reactions of guilt. Norms of society should never harm your health or restrict your personal freedom in those parts which serve the maintenance of your health.
When you yawn, the oxygen supply in the body and the brain improves, the muscles relax and unnatural pressure is balanced out. Similar to stretching, yawning supports the reestablishment of balanced relations between the different parts of the body. Where there is too little tension the musculature gets slightly activated. Where there is too much tension it leads to a tender dissolving and eventually to free movability and a loose orientation of the body.
Yawning – the positive aspects in short
- relaxation of the whole body
- balance of tension and relaxation processes
- improved supply of oxygen
- improved capacity
- emotional relaxation
- restructuring of important core structures in the body which support the general stability and relaxation
- improved immune system
- more relaxed attitude to life
- focus in the body
- focus on the moment
- calming of the spirit
- floating of energy and trustful opening to the outside while being stable on the inside
- yawning supports connectivity
- breaking unhealthy habbits
Most effects of yawning are immediate. One that lasts much longer than the moment is the effect on the immune system. This complex system reacts most sensibly to all changes in the body. As soon as there is too much pressure or tension, or too little energy in a part, the body already reacts internally and biochemically. It sends out impulses of diffusion which further stress the system. Especially the immune system reacts on it most sensibly. It works best when it can solve its tasks in a freely pulsating and relaxed body system. If this is the case you will find health which you would have never thought was possible, because the immune system can then fulfil its actual task in the best possible way.
Yawning also supports mental productivity as it is related to the state of your entire body. This is also the reason why the time used for yawning and the subsequent relaxation cascade isn’t time lost. Thoughts are rearranged and you feel fresher in the solution of new tasks.
Yawning helps to process emotions and ensures enough space for them. Even emotional conditions such as fear can be dissolved quite easily through yawning, because free pulsation and a free flow in the body are supported.
For the sake of completeness the negative aspect of yawning
- someone could feel offended or ignored by you based on their own moral concepts
So much for that… Life never lets things come to be by coincidence. Some things, such as yawning indeed serve the positive maintenance of the form and wellbeing.
Negative effects caused by suppressing yawning:
- raised tension in the entire body
- higher use of energy
- lower level of oxygen
- raise of the inner stress level which leads to restricted possibilities in the dealing with outside situations and a restriction in your wellbeing
- forced attention which has no sustainability – you forget things quicker
- fixation of negative patterns of the body structure caused by overworking or malposition in the physical or psychological
- blockage of energy
- increase of hypertensive reaction on emotional situations
- giving up feelings of wellbeing in favour of a senseless norm
- unnecessary strain of the immune system
- supressed breathing
Partly, rules in a society are important for a collective cooperation. In the case of yawning this wouldn’t be necessary. Yawning doesn’t harm anyone and it doesn’t inhibit people’s expression of life in any way. Always where you feel restricted, offended or ignored in your function or value as human being this needs to be clarified within you and should not be hidden under the cloak of societal norm.
Yawn and your day will become clearer because you remain true to yourself and give your body the freedom to express. You get closer to well-being and you are generally more relaxed.
The physical reflexes triggered by yawning and the immediate relaxing function make it a small but nice aspect in life which considerably supports your health. This applies to the body structure, the muscles, the biochemistry, energy and emotions. Energetically it feels as if you are shifted to a form of side level on which “real” life seems to have no meaning. All this is part of the relaxation function of yawning. Reordered thoughts and a fresh start are therefore only even possible. It should be clear that yawning is not a universal remedy, but after all it is about making small steps into the right direction.
In this spirit, have lots of fun with relaxation and enjoyment with YAWNING 🙂