You probably do it every day. Maybe, more than once a day.
I am not talking about falling in love. I am talking about pandiculation.
What, pray tell, is pandiculation?
It’s what your body naturally does when you first wake up, that big …. long …. stretch … of your entire body, accompanied by a yawn.
If you think about it, we’ve all seen infants pandiculate in their cribs. It’s a natural movement, which I have read even occurs while the baby is still in the womb.
Why do we do it?
According to Sarah Warren St. Pierre, an expert in somatic movement, “Pandiculation is the nervous system’s natural way of waking up the sensory-motor system and preparing for movement.”
Also, when we are sedentary (like overnight in our beds), the fluids in our bodies tend to pool. This movement gets things stirred up, ready for action.
What we call the “big, full body stretch” at the end of each chair Holy Yoga class is a actually a form of “voluntary pandiculation,” which moves us from that state of relaxation and prayerful focus back out into the rest of our day.
And it feels so good!
Most of the time it will bring on a yawn; always it will bring with it a smile.
Our postural habits can create chronic muscle tension which, in turn, can restrict movement. Some experts say this tension may even contribute to chronic pain.
The nervous system has, over time, learned our habitual postural positions. In order to improve these patterns, we can begin to practice better posture and introduce regular voluntary pandiculation into each day.
And here’s the kicker. The stretch involved in pandiculation increases circulation throughout your entire body, taking fresh oxygen to all your cells -- your heart, your brain, your lungs, your liver …. even your pinkie toes – demonstrating that this simple, instinctual movement is just one of God’s amazing miracles that is the human body.
Breathtaking, isn’t it?
But, how do we remember to do it?
We all have little games we play to help remember things. You might want to try this. Associate any new positive habit you want to establish with a habit you already have.
Breakfast stretch? Can do.
Pre-morning shower stretch? No problem.
Walking the dog stretch? What must my neighbors think?
Tea time stretch? Before or after, you decide.
Bedtime stretch? You are yawning anyway, so add a full body stretch to that.
When all else fails to me, I often make up a song. Here's one I sing to the tune of “Anticipation” by Carly Simon:
It feels so fine,
Makes me want to do it all the time.”
It’s thrilling, isn’t it? Not the song, but the idea that something so simple, so natural as a full body stretch can make such a big difference in our wellness?
Wow. Just wow.
Lord, You never cease to amaze us with the intelligence of Your design that is the human body. We are all different, yet all the same. For that we are eternally thankful. Amen.