The Importance of Touch

The other day as I picked up my kiddos from school, my son was clearly ready for a nap. He basically had the good old fashioned two year old inconsolable fit pitch where nothing is right and he just wants to kick and punch the world. 

Don’t you just love a good gif?

All you mamas, siblings, aunties and uncles I know know what these are….

I couldn’t do anything about this fit-even comply with the requests he made, he was just angry, and I couldn’t stop what I was doing –prepping my other for her nap and the various responsibilities of getting kiddos to nap.

It took about 20 minutes to get everyone else settled, and my very angry son (he may or may not get his fire from his mama) was still on a roll. I had half a mind to just let him cry it out (please don’t judge me). Rather than going straight to work on my laptop, what I normally do for the blessed 2-hr nap time, and because it’s been a rough week, I went in and picked up his rigid screaming little body and just whispered I loved him and gave him a big hug. )

He kept screaming, but he softened a little.

I picked him up and laid him down beside me and hugged him close. I consciously slowed down my breathing, a good, Ujjiyi breath, and his fit started easing. With each of my long slow deep inhales, he sobbed a little less fiercely. Each exhale his muscles relaxed.

In under 5 minutes, that kid was out like a light.

As I laid there beside him for a few minutes it got me to thinking about the importance of touch, and how it was even more important than my words.

In today’s world, it’s super hard to know exactly the right thing to do –especially in this litigious society. It doesn’t just stop with interpersonal relationships. I have heard that different yoga teacher training programs aren’t even teaching new teachers hands on assists because of the liability of what that touch may bring.

Unfortunately, bad people exist and then the society is punished effectively.

Touch is SUPER important to me–both as a mom, a friend and a teacher, and it turns out, it’s important according to science too. 

The Healing Benefits of Touch

I came across a great article on the importance of touch and if you only read it for the interesting male/female test results you’ll be educated and entertained, but if you read the whole article, you’ll find that touch helps to improve a child’s development, it can even help to increase weight in premies! It can help children manage stress better and even grow to their full potential. As adults, it can help to reduce heart rate and blood pressure and even release Oxytocin (your body’s natural feel good hormone).

Want to hear an interesting hypothesis I have? You know when you go to the doctor and he/she goes in to listen to your heart and lungs with the stethoscope? I’m convinced the other non-working hand is on your shoulder to help (1) make sure you don’t jump off the table and (2) Calm you down/make you feel better. Ok, it’s not MY hypothesis, my husband swears this is true.

My kids get at least 1 thousand kisses a day (I tell them I made the cheeks I get to kiss them…and yes, you can call me THAT mother…) I try to give my close friends a hug and definitely I try to get to every student in class as much as possible. Touch is so important, and yet, especially as we age and as things like abuse become more and more commonplace, we are touching less and less. This is especially true here in the States.

Touch is not just important in your interpersonal relationships. It can also be incredibly beneficial in your yoga practice. In an era where less and less students get hands on assists, it is no wonder that yoga injuries are increasing in prevalence. That’s not to say a bad assist can’t hurt (because it most definitely can) but the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher, just like a stroke coach in golf, it can help to improve the overall experience of your practice in that posture, and keep you safe. Plus, they usually feel pretty dang glorious.

When studies prove the benefits of touch over and over, I’d say it is about time to actually follow through with some good therapy, right? But HOW?

This Holiday Season, I encourage you to give your loved ones an extra long hug. (not in a creepy way, of course! :))

Hold your significant other’s hand

Pick up that little one and give them a squeeze.

It may surprise them, but it’ll make them feel better.

Even better, it’ll make you feel better too…even if you’re cringing a bit at the cheese of it all.

That’s in there for my sister who says she can’t stand people “violating her space” but still laughs and roles her eyes as we all give her the super big family hug.

It’ll make a difference.

And…if you’re thinking about becoming certified as a yoga teacher, the Thrive Yoga and Wellness Teacher Training program is the best at teaching hands on assists. From your very first day in class, you’ll learn how to best assist a student in class, and then you’ll get tons of practice, every single weekend. It’s a fabulous skill that can help enhance yours and your student’s practices and while you’re at it-helps to improve quality of life! Who doesn’t want that!?!