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Hey there! You’re just in time for this week’s Wacky Word Wednesday, a weekly celebration of the wackiest and most interesting words from around the world.

As the autumn chill approaches, it’s getting more and more difficult to stagger out of bed. There’s nothing like bare feet on a cold floor to make you want to snuggle in bed for just one more minute. (The sun’s not even up yet, so why should we be, right?)

So hopefully reading through today’s entry can help your mornings roll out a little bit more smoothly. For your health and wellbeing, this week’s wacky word is: pandiculation.

Without further ado, the definition from TermWiki.com:

quo top

pan·dic·u·la·tion

[pan-dik-yuhley-shun]

-noun

the act of stretching oneself and yawning

quo botPandiculation

The etymology of this word is Latin-based: pandiculari means to stretch one’s body, and pandere means to spread out. Interestingly enough, there’s an entire school of thought that’s related to this word.

Have you ever heard of Somatic Studies? In a nutshell, the belief behind this practice is that people should try to achieve self-competence and self-reliance through self-awareness in the most literal sense: becoming aware of your sensory self, or body. (Yikes, that’s a lot of selves.) To this end, the late founder of Somatic Studies, Thomas Hanna, systemized various pandiculations into what are now collectively known as Somatic Exercises.

All you pet-lovers out there have probably seen your cat or dog waking up from a nap. The first thing they do is a full-body stretch, and not because they’re yoga masters. It’s because they are consciously waking their bodies up to regain alertness.

In this same vein, pandiculation is actually an active engagement of the body; when you pandiculate (which is usually described as a full-body yawn), your arms and legs extend to their fullest, your neck stretches, and all of your muscles first contract and then release. This series of movements allows muscles to regain length and maintain agility. In other words, pandiculation is essentially a reset button for your nervous system.

But what exactly does that mean? Daily actions eventually become routine, so muscles over time get “stuck” in certain positions if held for too long. (Eight hours a day with your arms outstretched in front of you, hands on a keyboard sound familiar to anyone?) Described as “the most natural thing to do to take care of yourself,” pandiculation helps the brain re-adjust these “set” positions and bring the body back to its natural state of contracting and relaxing muscles. Which is why an early morning, out-of-bed pandiculation is not only encouraged—it feels great.

Go ahead, try it. You’re getting sleepy, you’re getting sleepy, you’re getting sleepy…

Now pandiculate!

Did your hands become fists? Did your back elongate as you pushed your arms above your head? Was your head thrown back? Did you yawn while your muscles contracted and extended until it felt like they couldn’t extend any further? And did they relax immediately after?

Congratulations, you’ve just experienced your first officially recognized pandiculation!

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  1. Wow, just reading this article, I know I need to be pandiculating. I just had no idea it carried with it such health effects. Thankfully, my girlfriend practices regularly. And although she has never told me of its health effects, I’m sure she’s been itching to. Time to join her in pandiculation!

  2. Hope your pandiculation helped you J.Liu.
    In my case I need to pandiculate when I am getting sleepy or boring… (weird, I have this red underline on both wacky word).

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