Yawning is associated with being bored, or lacking oxygen, or being very tired and sleepy.
Physiologically when we yawn we are opening our mouths to full capacity with a slow intake of oxygen and usually a faster exhale.
Yawning is contangious and this is related to our capacity for empathy. Teaching meditation to small and large groups of people, you can guarentee people are going to yawn. So that I can ease their concern about this I speak to it straight up.
I will not be offended if you yawn through my talk, in fact I will take it as a compliment.
I have many quick quips about how sleepy and relaxed people feel around me.
To begin I ask them to yawn, to practice yawning, and usually we have a lot of laughter and social exchanges.
When I notice that people are feeling more comfortable, I ask them to close their eyes and bring their attention to their body sensations. This usally ignites a chuckle and then gradually as they focus on their breathing everyone settles. In a group setting and at work this is usually a positive experience for everyone and at the end of the meditation practice most people are grateful for the experience.
Yawning is great way to relax, to recharge and to surrender into sleep.
For many of us who have difficulty with our sleeping, I recommed yawning meditation practice to help you switch off the busy mind. It can be distressing, laying awake for hours ruminating, tossing and turning, equally distressing when we wake up in the middle of the wee hours. I say wee, as often you need to get up and have a wee, and then it can be very difficult to get back to sleep. Only to find that it is time to get back up again. Night after night, month after month, year after year we can suffer the effects of lack of sleep. Insomnia. Medical research has shown that lack of sleep for more than 17 hours has the same effects on your functioning at work as having a blood alcohol count BAC of 1, over .05.
Have a practice of your Yawning meditation tonight when your head rests back on your pillow. It is so easy all you have to do is open your mouth really wide as you breath in. As you exhale make a noise and keep at it until the yawning becomes automatic. Try 10 Yawns and then relax into your body sensations. Focus on your heart and feelings of safety and comfort; love and gratitude. Wishing you sweet dreams.