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Why yawning is contagious?

In April 2020, we started the Talleres de las Malas Compañías (Bad Companies Workshops), courses on symbolism, poetry, short stories, and writing.

In 2021 we wanted to continue with the courses and we continued with Taller de escritura de Ana Cristina Herreros, (Ana Cristina Herreros' Writing Workshop), from January to June, we meet on Thursday afternoons to work on the texts that our students bring to class.

We are now finishing the first term, but in April we will resume classes for the second term and there are still places available. If you would like to join us, here is a story from one of our best students:

WHY YAWNING IS CONTAGIOUS? It is said that a long, long, long time ago, in a beautiful valley surrounded by gigantic mountains, there was a small village. In that village, the inhabitants slept all the time, all day long. They only got up three times: once for lunch, once for dinner and, of course, once for a shower. At that time, the village was called the Sleeping Village. Until one day a huge giant arrived. This giant loved to play, to make noise, to run, but of course, in this village, they didn't do any of that, they just slept. So, he decided that he was going to make as much noise as possible so that the villagers wouldn't sleep so much. He was bored out of his mind. He started with the songs, how badly he sang, what a noise he made, how annoying; the villagers couldn't sleep, it was unbearable. Time went by and every day they got more and more tired. But something happened that changed everything. Alma, a little girl who wanted to sleep, even for one night, began to feel a tingling in her chest, her lungs began to swell and AAAAHHH! she yawned. It was a long yawn, the kind that makes you close your eyes with pleasure, and the little girl felt herself relax. Next to her was her mother, who, like Alma, was longing to go to bed and rest for a little while. What an unbearable giant! she thought all day long. And then she felt the same tingling as Alma, the same need to expel all the air from her body, she closed her eyes and AAAAHHHHH, yawned and relaxed. They relaxed so much that they fell asleep, they didn't care about the noise, the giant, or anything else, they fell into a restful sleep that allowed them to regain their strength. When they woke up, they decided to gather the villagers and tell them how well they had slept and how they had succeeded. It's wonderful," said Alma's mother, "I couldn't believe it, it was so quick, we fell asleep and slept through the night.

- It's not possible," said the mayor, "you weren't bothered by the noise. Unbelievable!

- We have to try it!

They sat in a circle around the village fountain. The giant who was waiting to be invited to the meeting - after all, he was just another villager - stood in the corner. Alma decided to approach him.

- You want to sit with us, let's try to relax together.

- I don't know if I'm going to make it, I just want to play, run and I don't want to sleep.

- Come on, let's try it together. The inhabitants stared at the giant with unfriendly looks on their faces, but they trusted little Alma and were eager to try out her method of sleeping. And suddenly Alma felt the tickle again and yawned, then her mother. It spread to everyone in the circle until it reached the giant.

They all stood expectantly, needing to sleep, praying for it to work. - AAAAAHHHHHHHHH! AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! What's happening to me? -The giant was a little scared, he didn't understand what was happening to him. But after a big yawn, he looked at the villagers and said: "I think I'm going to sleep for a while, I hope you rest." And from that day on, when someone next to us yawns, our body reacts, we feel a tingling in our chest, we feel our lungs fill with air and it is at that moment that we yawn too.

Now you know why yawning is so contagious, we need to put to sleep that giant in all of us.

Verónica Mata

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