I learned a new word.
Pandiculation. I LOVE this word because it so clearly articulates some things I’ve been pondering. In fact, I rejoice in this word! It’s a daring, delightful way to luxuriate in yourself and enjoy taking up space.

Pandiculation is like a yawn for the whole body. A reaching outward of the tissues, an outward expansion, a realignment, an opening up that feels great and wakes you up. I first encountered the word on a FB posting that was accompanied by a video of a cat elegantly waking up and having good ol’ back stretch. A yawn is a form of pandiculation. I think the Mitzvah Exercise is, too.

Pandiculation is defined by as “an action pattern that occurs generally throughout the vertebrae kingdom. It is the sensory motor action used by animals to arouse the voluntary cortex by making a strong voluntary muscle contraction in order to feedback an equally strong sensory stimulation to the motor neurons.”

I think one of the ways the Mitzvah Exercise works is to trigger the pandicular response to stretch and open the spine. In the same way forcing a yawn or making yourself yawn usually triggers a real yawn. Are you yawning yet? I’ll try to stop saying “yawn” now. Practicing the Mitzvah Exercise teaches the body a pattern that can release the spine and when you practice it, the spine starts to release itself. Like a stretchy feedback loop for your body-a spinal pandiculation.

I was taught that it was rude to yawn. As a student I was expected to sit still and face the front of the room. As a girl, I did not feel I had permission to reach outward and fill up all the space around me, open my mouth wide and enjoy the sensory stretchy experience of being alive in a body. In the urban environment we seem to suppress our natural instinct to pandiculate. Taking up space seems to be frowned upon. Taking pleasure in the body in public seems rather audacious. On top of that, sensual and sexual have been so mixed up in this world and nobody wants the wrong kind of attention. So, we get in the habit of keeping still, closing off, crossing our legs. I think we practice ourselves out of our natural instincts for a good stretch.

I say, let’s reclaim our natural right to pandiculate. Even if you only do it when you wake up or when you get home or after too much time writing at the computer. Take up space, stretch, yawn and luxuriate in the sensations of your glorious expansive stretchiness.

And practice The Mitzvah Exercise. 😉

Let me know how it goes!