Yawning is one of the most common and often embarrassing behaviors, especially when it happens in front of the mass or among the elderly or higher cadre people.
Whenever we get bored usually we yawn. Not only you and I; but also most of the animals do yawn. Probably even the birds too. Because each creature is bored and tired!
The science says that yawning helps us to get more oxygen into the blood and remove more carbon dioxide out of the blood. Hence yawning fulfills the need of quick breathing.
Yawning is an involuntary reflex which helps us to control our oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.
There is also another theory that, whenever there is increase of brain temperature, yawning happens to cool it down.
Some others believe that yawning stretches the lungs and lung tissues. Thus stretching and yawning may be a way to flex muscles and joints; which increases the heart rate and feel more awake and comfort.
Quite interestingly, there is one belief which is wide spread about yawning that it is vulnerable when one yawns…or it becomes contagious!
If you yawn in your place of work a few other will also start yawning. Even thinking about yawning can get you yawning! Even though much scientific inputs may not be available to substantiate this finding it appears true in many respects.
What is Yawning?
A yawn is defined as a reflex consisting of the simultaneous inhalation of air and the stretching of the eardrums, followed by an exhalation of breath.
Yawning is most often found immediately before and after sleep and during tedious activities. Engaging in uninterested activities, restlessness, stress, too small room of residence, hunger or thirst may also act as stimulant of yawning mechanism. Some believe that Yawning is a mechanism of cooling of the brain too.
Wall Street Journal explains – “Yawning is believed to be a means to keep our brains alert in times of stress. Contagious yawning appears to have evolved in many animal species as a way to protect family and friends, by keeping everyone in the group vigilant. Changes in brain chemistry trigger yawns, which typically last about six seconds and often occur in clusters”.
Rationality behind Yawning-a scientific outlook-
The author Daniel J. De Noon points out three mechanisms behind Yawning and they are-
- When you start to yawn, powerful stretching of the jaw increases blood flow in the neck, face, and head.
- The deep intake of breath during a yawn forces downward flow of spinal fluid and blood from the brain.
- Cool air breathed into the mouth cools these fluids.
As a disease symptom
Yawning-may be a feature in some diseases
Yawning may be found as a symptom in few of the diseased condition also. The researchers report that it may be found in the cases where Oxygen deficiency is the significant point in the illness. Recent studies in this regard suggest that Yawning is a feature in the illnesses like-Central sleep apnea, Obesity, Diabetes mellitus, Heart diseases, Epilepsy, Multiple sclerosis, Aortic troubles, Stroke syndrome etc.
Yawning –as explained in Ayurveda
Experts of the science opine that Yawning is a Kapha vataja discomfort (not a disease) caused due to the obstruction to the free flow of Udanavata in the area of the chest. This may be caused due to the obstruction to the free flow of Pranavata also. In such incidences the condition may be vulnerable and if not responded may be critical. It may infer regarding the critical conditions referred by the modern physicians as said in the previous paragraph.
Ayurveda mentions yawning as a side effect of lack of sleep. As per Ayurveda it is a Pranavata activity.
yawning, called Jrumbha in Ayurveda is explained as a – Adharaneeya Vega – natural urges that should not be suppressed.
Read related: The greatest Ayurvedic health secret – revealed!
Diseases due to yawn suppression
Diseases caused by suppression of yawning reflex:
Vinama – forward bending of the body
Akshepa – convulsion,
Samkocha – contractions,
Supti – numbness,
Kampa – tremor and
Pravepana – shaking of the body.
Treatment: All the measures to balance Vata Dosha should be taken up. [Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 7/19]
Vata balance measures include
Oil pulling – learn how to do it in a genuine Ayurvedic way
Nasya therapy – nasal drops therapy with Anu taila, Shad Bindu taila etc. Learn how to do it
Regular head massage, Shirodhara therapies.
All the above therapies help to improve the blood circulation to head, relieve tiredness, fatigue and regular temperature as well.
Excess yawning management
What can be done in excess of Yawning?
Sleep for at least 7 – 8 hours at night.
Pranayama for at least 3 minutes per day – Learn how to do a simple Pranayama.
Sit with a straight back. Learn how to practice sitting straight
Avoid junk foods, canned foods, smoking and alcohol. These cause ama – a product of abnormal digestion and metabolism, which in turn leads to lack of oxygen supply to all parts of the body, including brain.
Eat and drink only when hungry and thirsty. This way, the rhythmic body cycle of timely secretion of enzymes and hormones are maintained well.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
The measures like shifting towards quite interesting work/change in the work, drinking of enough water/beverage of your choice, rest, mild body exercise, creativity, plays and games will help to overcome the momentary yawning.
Yogasanas to help relieving yawning –
Last but not the least….let me know have you yawned while reading this write up? Haaa haaa…. 🙂
Article by Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu), PhD (Ayu)
Consult Dr Krishnamurthy by email.