The Yawn of a New Memory


Millions of people watched in awe as Olympic Gold Medalist Apolo Anton Ohno got ready to begin the biggest moment of his life, and yawned. His apparent nonchalance to this Winter Olympic race stunned observers, and even British Open golf champion Stewart Clark tweeted that “Ohno’s action made him yawn too, as he watched TV.”

Was he bored, or did he do too much celebrating the night before and was tired? Either way, people thought it was not the action of a person going for the gold! This race was the one where he could become the Winter Olympian to receive the most medals in U.S. history. One would think he would be very nervous.

It seems, however, that there was another reason Ohno needed to yawn. One of his friends revealed to Yahoo! Sports at the time to that Apolo’s yawning is part of his training. Yawning lets extra oxygen into his lungs in the seconds before he bursts onto the ice. “It makes me feel better,” Ohno said later. “It gets the oxygen in and the nerves out.”Apolo Anton Ogno Yawning Yawn

Yawning can Improve Memory, Brain Fitness and overall Brain Health. For athletes yawning improves their circulation and lung capacity needed to complete their routine. It also helps memory and mental ability. Racers need to not only have physical strength, but mental strength and strategy. So, although Apolo’s “official” reason for yawning has nothing to do with memory and brain fitness, the brain boosting did help him to get the Bronze medal in that event, and make the history books for most medals won in the Winter Olympics.

Yawning, it turns out, is an excellent brain exercise! Here are just a few of the reasons yawning can benefit you:

  • It makes you more focused and alert
  • Improves metabolism and enhances brain connectivity
  • Boosts cognitive reasoning
  • Strengthens memory and recall
  • Enhances consciousness and introspection
  • Reduces stress levels
  • Relaxes all parts of your body
  • Benefits voluntary muscle control
  • Beefs up athletic skills
  • Fine-tunes your sense of time
  • Enriches social awareness and empathy
  • Heightens pleasure and sensuality

According to the author of   How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist, “Yawning will relax you and bring you into a state of alertness faster than any other meditation technique I know of.”

To consciously yawn requires some practice. There are usually a number of chemical processes that takes place in the brain during a yawn, including the release of dopamine, the “feel good chemical” that gives you pleasure and sensuality. The release of dopamine leads to other neurochemical reactions that help to improve memory, regulate your body’s temperature, and bond relationships. Few activities bring such positive brain functions.

According to studies using brain scans, yawning activates a part of the brain called the precuneus. Researchers believe the precuneus plays a role in consciousness, self-reflection and enhanced memory and recall, among other things.

So, if you want to improve your memory and feel good, practice yawning. It’s simple, and it’s free!

 Memory Training

About the author:

Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion and memory training expert. As a memory keynote speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life. His CDs and memory products are also available online at


The Online Brain Games Blog — Yawning Boosts Mental Abilities and Helps Olympian Win:

The Online Brain Games Blog – Yawning can Improve Memory, Brain Fitness and overall Brain Health:

Yahoo Sports — Why Does Apolo Anton Ohno Yawns Before His Races?,221091

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