When I first began studying the horse human connection, it became clear that there was a lot being said about a horses yawning. To the world of those who recognize horses as teachers and healers, the yawn is often referred to as a powerful release of energy by the horse. It could be the horse releasing energy it was taking on from the human, its herd, or its own. It is concluded as a release of some sort. Could there be even more to it?
This is a really interesting personal experience I had with the horses and yawning.
Without going backwards and getting into too much details, lets just say...I had had a really hard day. I felt stuck in my head.
I went down to the herd.
I approached the gate to enter the paddock with the herd and it was like hitting a brick wall when I entered their heart field. I looked at each horse teacher and one by one, I was, once again, present.
Then it happened. The horses formed, what seemed like a semi circle around me and began yawning. And yawning. And yawning. When this yawning ceremony was complete, two horses shook it off and all four went back to grazing.
When I went down to the herd, my intention was to ask them questions that were racing through my mind when I was stuck there. When I walked out of the paddock, none of those questions mattered. The horses brought me right back to present moment with empathy, release...and we all went back to grazing.
After this profound experience with the herd's collective yawning ceremony, I began to look at scenarios when I notice myself yawn. I quickly realized that I yawn at least three times every time I practice yoga. I also realized that I yawn when I am in the round pen with the horses. I also find myself yawning, well, when others yawn.
This called for some research. I wanted to know more about yawning.
Through my research, the consensus of information led to yawning being the body's wake up call. A way to increase oxygen to the brain and a way to transition states of being (ie. restlessness to calm, sleepiness to wakefulness, anxiety to mindfulness).
Studies also show that yawning is largely based on an empathic connection to others. Studies also add:
"Rather than empathy, the contagious nature of yawning may be highlighting something very different. “We’re getting insight into the human herd: yawning as a primal form of sociality,” Provine says. Yawning may be, at its root, a mechanism of social signalling. When we yawn, we are communicating with one another. We are sending an external sign of something internal, be it our boredom or our anxiety, our fatigue or our hunger—all moments when we may need a helping hand. In fact, yawning may be the opposite of what we generally think. It’s less likely a signal that you’re tired than a signal that it’s time for everyone around you to act." - The Surprising Science of Yawning - The New Yorker
That paragraph simply sums it up for me. It really resonates with me in that the horses came together knowing that something was needed and a transition of states was necessary for me that day.
Because horses are such sensitive and attuned beings, they not only know what those close to them require for balance, but they demonstrate a powerful connection to clients and guests on our farm. This is their nature. This innate natural ability that they are born with and, often times, are forced to numb,
The power of this natural empathic connection of horses and yawning lends itself to horses as healers and teachers. The fact that they can see our emotional blueprint and know what we need before we even do...especially when we are stuck in our head...never ceases to amaze me. Their passion to help humans seems to be a stream of love and compassion that never runs dry. This sacred offering of pure instinct and love will never be taken for granted on our farm. I feel so privileged to be able to explore and discover more and more about myself every time I enter their classroom, not only as co-facilitator and partner...but also as their student!
I don't need the answers. I don't need to question. It just is. And how beautiful it is.
As I lovingly admire the herd, guided by their instinct and intuition, I see my own self in their eyes. It is only when I am stuck in my head do I need the "stories" or the "questions"...When I am present in my body and in my heart, I too am privy to these gifts.