Yoga allows you to enter a state of deep awareness and relaxation during which unconscious bodily changes occur. It’s natural for people to experience flatulence, hunger, tingling sensations, and other phenomena. Yawning is one phenomenon that’s quite common during a yoga session, and if you do the same, too, you may want to know why.
Doing yoga makes you yawn because your body needs more oxygen during asana practice. You require more oxygen as your muscles are engaged, and yawning is the quickest way to boost oxygen intake.
Read on as I’ll explore the possible reasons a yoga practice makes you yawn.
Yawning Is the Body’s Trick To Increase Oxygen
You may find yourself frequently yawning when you’re attending a boring meeting or in a conversation that isn’t stimulating. When you’re disengaged or bored, your breathing tends to get shallow, and the body triggers a yawn to bring in fresh oxygen and push out carbon dioxide.
As such, yawning is the body’s quick fix to low oxygen levels.
When you practice yoga, several physiological processes are going on that require the influx of oxygen. This need for more oxygen is the prime reason your body forces a yawn.
Here I’ve listed a few reasons your body triggers a yawn when you’re practicing yoga.
Yoga Makes Your Lungs Expand
You open up your solar plexus when performing asanas like bhujangasana (cobra pose) or matsyasana (fish pose), allowing the lungs to expand significantly. An increased lung capacity translates to a need for more significant quantities of oxygen.
The body is remarkably attuned to even the tiniest physiological changes. To fill up the increased lung capacity, it’ll trigger a yawn, allowing more oxygen to flow in and fill the lungs.
You’ll notice that yawns typically accompany asanas that expand the solar plexus zone.
Yoga Relaxes Your Muscles
Most people who engage in any physical activity know that muscles require oxygen to contract and perform the action they’re designed for.
For example, suppose you’re lifting a heavy set of weights that requires the use of your biceps. In that case, you need oxygen for the biceps to contract and exert the necessary energy needed to lift the weights.
However, most people are unaware that muscles also require energy to relax. As you relax, your muscles expand, and for them to expand and release tension, they need a significant amount of energy.
When practicing yoga, you’re actively expanding muscle fibers through various asanas. As you stretch, your muscles begin to switch to relaxation mode, and to do so requires oxygen.
Like an exercise that causes contraction, yoga causes the expansion of muscle fibers. And to effectively expand and relax, your body will need increased oxygen. A yawn is the most effective way to quickly allow oxygen to enter the bloodstream and travel to the muscles, helping them expand during your yoga practice.
Your Mind Gets a Workout During Yoga
While yoga asanas are performed by moving the body through various postures, the mind also goes through significant changes during a session. To perform specific asanas requires considerable focus while you pay attention to minute changes in the body.
When you hold an asana, you must concentrate on keeping the mind steady to feel the effects of the asana.
During meditation, you must bring your awareness back to the present.
When you lie down in savasana, you allow the mind to free itself from thought and notice what’s going on with the body.
These activities comprise a mental workout that requires increased effort from the mind. And, as mentioned, the body requires more oxygen when performing any activity, even when only the brain is involved.
As such, yawning allows more oxygen into the body, so the mind has more fuel to work with during a yoga session.
Your Organs Are Functioning Optimally During Yoga
Yoga is a form of exercise that focuses on holistic health instead of just the outward appearance of physicality. Aside from your muscles, an asana practice targets various systems, including the respiratory, circulatory, nervous, and immune systems.
Asanas also massage the body’s internal organs, allowing them to relax and boost their function. An increase in organ functionality could be another reason the body triggers a yawn, so your organs have more oxygen to work with.
Other Reasons Why People Yawn While Doing Yoga
As you can see, yawning is a bodily function that helps to increase oxygen intake, giving your body more energy to work with. People yawn while doing yoga as their bodies require fuel to perform the various activities going on at a cellular level.
However, aside from increased oxygen, there are a few other reasons people yawn while doing yoga:
- Yawning helps stretch the face. It’s the most effective stretch for your jaw and most of your facial muscles. A yawn can help increase blood flow to the face, allowing the muscles to relax.
- Your yawn is a response to neurotransmitters. There’s a theory that yawning is triggered by certain chemical transmitters in the brain. Oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine are common neurotransmitters released in the brain during yoga. Aside from affecting our emotions and moods, these neurotransmitters can also trigger yawning.
- Yawning is a sign of sleepiness. A serious yoga session with a savasana at the end can make you feel incredibly relaxed and unwound. And yawning is a natural response when you feel sleepy—that could be why you yawn during a yoga session.
To summarize, yawning is primarily triggered when there’s a deficit of oxygen in the body. A yawn helps to stimulate the absorption of oxygen while pushing carbon dioxide out of the body. When you’re engaged in a yoga session, the need for oxygen increases as you move through different asanas.
The various physiological processes occurring during yoga increases the demand for oxygen. As such, the body yawn to compensate for this requirement.
Yawning during a yoga session is quite normal and even healthy as it gives your body more fuel to work with.