The Power of a Simple Yawn

February 3, 2015
May 7, 2015
I consider myself to be a student of yawning.
I believe we underestimate the importance of yawns.
When my coaching clients yawn, it is often a sign that something significant is happening.

It could be that a shift in perception or understanding is occurring.

Or that a deeply embedded body story is finally being heard.

Sometimes I verbally acknowledge what a client’s body is expressing.

I might say something like, “I notice your shoulders shifted–I wonder if they have something to say about _______?”

And then my client may have a moment of recognition, accompanied by a yawn.

Sometimes when a client listens deeply to their sensations, they discover something that their body has been trying to tell them for a long time.

And then they yawn and yawn.

Many somatic “aha” moments are followed by a series of yawns, perhaps to punctuate the moment, perhaps to midwife it. Or both.


Somatic unwinding means restoring fluidity to the body so that energy and emotions can move with ease and purpose.

Our wise animal bodies use all kinds of ways to unwind and let go, including yawning. We can trust our body’s natural impulse to yawn.

Sadly, yawns are considered impolite or inappropriate, especially if they continue longer than a few seconds.

It amazes me how thoroughly cultural norms of politeness in North America obstruct unwinding.

In the case of yawning, people nearby usually ask us if we are bored or tired. Maybe that is why most of my clients try to stifle their yawns.

Did you know that when you yawn, you release tension stored in your jaw, throat, lips, palate, ears, and even your chest and scalp?

A series of yawns can create profound relaxation in the chest, throat and face.

Yawning Before Talking

The practice of allowing yawns, especially full, wide-open yawns, is so rare that I have developed a slogan for my clients: “Yawning before talking.”

By this I mean, when a yawn shows up, it is time to drop everything and let as many yawns come as want to.

I have found that when we allow ourselves to yawn as many times as we need to, the jaw opens wider and wider. The eyes may water.

Each yawn becomes softer and easier. The mind might quiet down.

Over weeks or months, your jaw muscles can soften. You may stop grinding your teeth.

This is true softening, true unwinding. All this potential healing is present in our yawns, and it is free.

I encourage us all to allow the yawning process, as often as we can.


  1. Walusinski says:

    I think you have build a very good attitude

    How yawning switches the default-mode network
    to the attentional network
    by activating the cerebrospinal fluid flow

    with best regards

  2. Bolli Anne says:

    Thank you for your publication. What you say about the yawning is very similar to what I observe very often in my musictherapy work : most of the time, after a important moment of changement during the therapy does a yawining occur. Anne Bolli L. musictherapist in Geneva Switzerland