There’s a fascinating article by Paula Cocozza in yesterday’s Guardian about why touch matters.
One of the contributors suggests that practising yoga can confer many of the benefits of being touched, not because of hands-on adjustments from the teacher but because moving your limbs against each other and against your body stimulates the “gentle touch nerves”.
According to the article,
‘Tiffany Field founded the Touch Research Institute at Miami Medical School to study this neglected sense and its impact on health. She enjoys a weekly massage and happily lists the positive effects of being touched. “We know from the science of what goes on under the skin that when the skin is moved, pressure receptors are stimulated,” she says. This “slows down heart rate, blood pressure and the release of cortisol”, which gives people better control over their stress hormones.
It’s given me much food for thought. I’ve never been a very hands-on yoga teacher; whether or not adjustments are welcome is a matter for each student’s individual preference, and that’s hard to gauge minute-by-minute in a group class. I’ve experienced too many interfering touches from teachers over the years that have left me feeling creeped out, or have nudged me towards injury – and with my students, I’d rather err on the side of caution. But there are other ways to bring more awareness of touch and its benefits into class, and I’m working on them – such as introducing more safe, supervised partner work and more intentional self-touch (e.g. self massage, hand mudras, gentle tapping and so on).
Read the Guardian article here.