Mindful Yawning Experiment
My apologies for not updating the site very much these last few months. I’ve been working on two projects: writing the new jhana guide, which is shaping up nicely, and my posture method, which is what I’m going to talk about today.
The posture method is called “Mindful Yawning”. Its premise is simple: that all postural problems (besides injury) are caused by myofascial adhesion — connective tissue that surrounds the muscles becoming stuck to and winding around the nerves — and that all adhesions can be “unstuck” using yawning (or elements taken from the yawn), and in fact that the whole purpose of yawning is to release adhered fascia. The slogan of my method could be something like:
Good posture for all using the body’s own corrective processes.
While my method has worked completely for me, and I am 99% sure it is “the answer”, I need to see how transferable the knowledge is, and therefore the best ways to get it out of my head and into yours. The purpose of this post is to ask for your help by giving you the basic method and seeing how easily you take to it, and whether you get any benefits from it. So I am asking for a little of your time (which has the potential to actually change your life, especially if you suffer with things like a bad back which basically shouldn’t happen) and report the results in the comments section.
What follows is an exercise to introduce you to the basic method, and it is from a suite of similar exercises in my method which all use the same premise to create myofascial release.
1. Stand up. Bend the arms at the elbows and point the fists in the air, like this guy, but with both arms matching the lower one to start off with:
2. Squeeze your calf muscles quite hard for a couple of seconds, then suddenly release them.
3. You are now looking out for the “release wave” from the calves to begin spreading up the body. Hopefully you hear a rushing sound in your ears like you do on any regular yawn (that rushing sound indicates that, somewhere, some fascia is being released). You can open your mouth a little to encourage that sound if it is not already evident.
4. Let the “release wave” spread up exactly as it wants to and have it gently move or sway your limbs and other parts of your body exactly as it wants to. Fascia is literally stuck to nerves, wrapped around it in a spiral due to repeated adhesion. When it releases, the tendency is therefore for body parts to gently move and rotate as the spiral unsticks and unravels. (All these little movements and processes, I call “elements of the yawn”.) What you are trying to do is to let this process unfold exactly as it wishes. If it becomes a “full yawn” by itself, then that’s great! Please note that this process is often extremely slow from start to completion, and that this is normal and correct.
- Fascia connects areas of the body that are far apart as well as close together. The result of this is that a release starting in the calf can quickly spread up the body, e.g. into the neck and shoulders, because there is a continuous strip of fascia between the two points. The fascial strip is wrapped around a nerve in the calf at one end, and a nerve in the neck or arm or shoulder at the other end. Many points in the body can be connected in this way. A strip can be wrapped around other nerves in between, too, which is why the automatic release process (known colloquially as a yawn) is often slow. We generally start with the lower body because adhesions down there have more influence on the upper body than vice versa. The effect I really want you to notice is that you can (bizarrely) get a huge release in the neck area coming straight off of a squeeze-and-release in the calves. This model may seem counter-intuitive at first but is the nature of the “global” fascia model: everything is connected to everything else. A tightness problem “up here” not only often has its cause “down there” but in fact this is usually so. This is why we do as much with the lower body first: releases will always tend to spread upward.
- Further to this point, the neck area is a huge point of convergence for fascial strips. The nerves either side of the neck get fascia wrapped around them coming in from all over the body. So, wherever in the body the release wave begins, it will tend to at some point cross over the neck and release something there (and often then down into the arms) simply because everything meets at the neck. This is the reason why the jaw is so involved in yawning, as it stimulates the nerves in the neck which have fascia wound around them coming in from all over the body.
- A major point I will keep repeating is to let the release unfold exactly as it wants. The main aim of this programme is to let the body release itself via its own processes. So, do not start stretching and pulling at things using your conscious mind! Don’t pull at something because it seems like a good idea! There are some exercises in the complete programme which do use conscious intentional release, but these are a relatively minor part of the overall system and are for very specific problem areas. You must forget about them for now. The main basis of this programme is using the body’s own automatic releases processes: “the body knows best”. It is “releasing” (unsticking), not “stretching”.
- A result of the above is that the release wave is often very slow in movement and propagation around the body. Half the time you will standing there, hearing the rushing sound, but with body parts barely moving at all. This is completely correct! The fascia release in that case is taking place on a micro-level and it takes time. As always, if you can hear the rushing sound in your ears, the fascia is still being released somewhere!
- I have picked the calves to start off with for specific reasons relating to their being a centre of gravity for the body and also because they tend to get VERY wound. In other words, there are LOTS of myofascial adhesions wrapped around the nerves in the calves, and as anyone who has ever had their calves massaged knows, it hurts like hell for this reason. A fascial release wave started in the calves will spread into the toes, and also rapidly propagate upwards into the hips (another major wind area due to sitting) and then upwards to the neck, arms, and basically everywhere else.
- However, a release wave can be started at any major nerve by squeezing and releasing the muscle at that nerve! But stay with the calves for now, please.
So, a “yawn” is a myofascial release wave which spreads around the body as an automatic corrective process. In the Mindful Yawning programme, we are simply triggering this wave intentionally then letting it run its course multiple times to unwind adhesions which have been layered again and again over the course of your life by sedentary processes such as sitting and lying.
I would like you to test this method using the calves, letting it run through a complete yawn process across the body several times, and report back in the comments section as to what has improved and how easy you found it. Again, do not rush any of it as most of it is slow as hell, and repetitive. You cannot rush micro-level release.
I am particularly interested in hearing from people with really poor posture, and having them run through this exercise 10-20 times and telling me if it noticeably changes their shape. Yes, this will take some time, but if I’m right about this (and I’m 99% sure I am), it is THE way to fix yourself and get your body to a natural state of having close to zero myofascial adhesions. Furthermore, I will really appreciate the feedback! 🙂