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The Lost Art of Touch

We all know why touching a student is something that we have to be considerate of, and permission is an appropriate thing to ask, but are we all now missing out? - By Caroline O'Driscoll

Reading time: 3 minutes

5 Reasons why we shouldn’t lose the art of touch...

  1. Research has demonstrated that physical touch conveys feelings of safety and trust while providing a soothing effect. The act of gentle, warm touch has been found to alleviate cardiovascular stress by activating the body's vagus nerve, closely linked to our compassionate response. Moreover, a simple touch has the potential to stimulate the release of oxytocin, often referred to as "the love hormone."
  2. As an illustration, when unfamiliar individuals extend a handshake, the likelihood of trusting them increases. This isn't solely due to the friendly nature of the gesture but also because the physical can foster a greater sense of trust. Additionally, touch serves as a potent and universally understood means of conveying specific emotions.
  3. Researchers affirm that the influential role of touch conveys cooperation and trust and acknowledge that touch has the ability to comfort and reduce stress in infants. A gentle back rub can peacefully lull children to sleep, embraces can instil a sense of safety and belonging in youngsters, and hand-holding can provide solace during challenging moments. From these examples, we can clearly see how the influence of touch stems from maternal contact during infancy, while continuing to serve as a means of fostering social bonds throughout our lifetime.
  4. The majority of research suggests that therapeutic touch has the potential to alleviate tension headaches and mitigate pain, including pain resulting from burns, osteoarthritis, or post-surgical discomfort. Additionally, it may accelerate the healing of wounds and enhance the functionality of individuals with arthritis. In fact, studies indicate that therapeutic touch promotes cellular growth.
  5. Finally, it’s important to remember that touch can be an essential component of the yoga practice, primarily aimed at providing necessary corrections to prevent injuries. The primary purpose of touching students during a yoga session is to assist them in achieving proper alignment.

Caroline O'Driscoll

Experienced yoga teacher, mother of 3, specializing in chair, pregnancy, postnatal, yin, and restorative yoga. Passionate about inclusivity and transformation.