10 Reasons why we need at least 8 hugs a day

I am certainly not one of those people who would necessarily relish being hugged, unexpectedly, by a complete stranger or upon meeting someone for the first time, but I do love hugging (and being hugged by) those who I am comfortable with, especially my children. I also know a number of folk who harbour an active dislike of unsolicited hugging – including one friend in particular who has a thing about ears – and so I am not by any means endorsing the idea of abandoned hugging in general. That said, I found this article by Marcus Julian Felicetti very lovely, and thought it would be nice to share to encourage those of us who do hug, to do it more often, and for those who don’t, to consider all the benefits of the simple act (and for those of you thinking of attending a yoga class at my yoga studio in Stellenbosch, fear not: unlike Marcus, I am not known to hug my students, unless they very specifically request me to do so!).

Hugging therapy has been proven to be a powerful way of healing. Research shows that hugging (and also laughter) is extremely effective at healing sickness, disease, loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress, and it is said that a proper deep hug, where the hearts are pressing together, can benefit you in the following ways:

1. The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and honest communication.

2. Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.

3. Holding a hug for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.

4. Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.

5. Hugging boosts self-esteem. From the time we’re born our family’s touch shows us that we’re loved and special. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our Mom and Dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self love.

6. Hugging relaxes muscles. Hugs release tension in the body. Hugs can take away pain; they soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.

7. Hugs balance out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system – parasympathetic.

8. Hugs teach us how to give and receive. There is equal value in receiving and being receptive to warmth, as to giving and sharing. Hugs educate us how love flows both ways.

9. Hugs are so much like meditation and laughter. They teach us to let go and be present in the moment. They encourage us to flow with the energy of life. Hugs get you out of your circular thinking patterns and connect you with your heart and your feelings and your breath.

10. The energy exchange between the people hugging is an investment in the relationship. It encourages empathy and understanding. And, it’s synergistic, which means the whole is more than the sum of its parts: 1+1 = 3 or more! This synergy is more likely to result in win-win outcomes.

There is a saying by Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” Eight or more might seem quite high, but while researching and writing this article I asked my child, “How many hugs a day do you like?” She said, “I’m not going to tell you how many I like, but it’s way more than eight.” That really made me smile and touched my heart. And, I realized how organic and deep the need for hugs is.

As a loving father, I get plenty of hugs from my little princess and her Mamma. And as a yoga therapist, I often give and receive them from my students at the end of a session. I find that love, is a miracle drug.

Published August 10, 2012 at 11:52 AM

About Marcus Julian Felicetti

Marcus became a yoga teacher soon after discovering yoga at University. His classes are fun, passionate and often intense. They offer students the chance to go deep within and connect with their breath and release their emotions. Marcus communicates his love of yoga through guiding each student with insight and compassion, weaving ancient wisdom with simplicity and an emphasis on the student’s experience. His primary objective is to teach a system of yoga that fully integrates the body, mind and spirit, and channels that energy to its highest potential and purpose. Marcus continues to grow his own yoga practice everyday while remaining passionate about helping others connect to theirs. He teaches private one-on-one yoga in Sydney. His business Bodhi Yoga provides quality corporate yoga classes to companies in Sydney. Website: bodhiyoga.net.au

Ladies and gentlemen, here’s….. Derryn!

I’m delighted to announce that a new instructor is joining my yoga studio in Stellenbosch, starting this week!

Derryn Searle is a beautifully positive person whose smile lights up every room she walks into. Some of her passions are yoga, music and teaching, and she particularly shines when the three are combined in her classes. Derryn trained at Yoga Life in Cape Town and offers a wonderfully energising Vinyasa flow style that will get you moving and a spring into your step, strengthening the body while calming the mind.

What this means for the studio at Yoga With Nicci is that there are more classes on offer, and you will be able to choose between two different instructors/styles. Try us both out to see what resonates better with you! Or just pick and choose, depending on your schedule.

Contact me for more info about the new class schedule, fees etc.

And in her own words, here is what led our radiant new instructor to yoga:

Derryn Searle – What led me to yoga

When I look back on my life, discovering yoga has been the most natural progression for me. My journey as a young adult began with my passion for ballet and music as I was growing up, which culminated in my studying music at university and becoming a musician and teacher. After having taught music for many years in Durban, I arrived in Stellenbosch 8 years ago with new ideas and dreams of opening my own décor store, Cocoon. This was a wonderfully creative and busy time in my life learning how to run a business along with being a mother, and getting to know people in Stellenbosch.

At the same time, I started practising yoga in Stellenbosch first with Johan Kotze  and Ina Gerber who introduced me to Iyengar Yoga, and later for many years with Adele George. I fell in love with yoga and the wonderful sense of well-being and calmness that I felt after every class, and soon it became very much part of my daily life. Practising yoga has transformed my life, cultivating strength, stillness and endurance in my body, steadiness and calmness in my mind, and a wonderful lightness of being!

My regular practice of yoga brought me to the realization that I wanted to teach yoga and train as a yoga teacher, which made perfect sense as I have always loved teaching.

Earlier this year I completed my YTT 200 Hr Teacher’s Training with Yogalife in Cape Town. Trained by Marley Vigdorth from Denver U.S.A. and Dave Porter, owner of Yogalife, we were trained to teach Vinyasa Flow Yoga which is a steady flowing sequence of connected yoga postures linked with the breath. This is an exhilarating yet calming yoga, usually accompanied by beautiful and inspiring music, and appeals to all ages. It helps focus the mind, improves posture and alignment, builds strength, stamina and flexibility, and releases stress, bringing balance and healing in our lives. On and off the mat, yoga feeds body and soul.

I am so looking forward to joining Nicci and teaching yoga with her in her beautiful studio in Stellenbosch. Hope to see you there!

Spring has sprung and there is a buzz in the air….

…and it’s not just the bees humming about all the gorgeous jasmine that has suddenly come into bloom or even an extended Brahmari pranayama session. No, there is a buzz around my little yoga studio in Stellenbosch that is getting louder and louder, in the most exciting manner possible! Let me explain…

I’ve been conspicuously absent from my blogging over the last while, and it’s because I’ve had the incredible fortune and privilege to become involved in a non-profit called TRADE-MARK (www.trade-mark.co.za) that a former colleague from my WWF days (World Wide Fund for Nature, not the wrestling crew) – Josh had the idea a number of years back and has recently got some funding to set up a website and get things really moving forward, and we are currently in the process of waiting to hear from DG Murray Trust as to whether a proposal for funding that we lodged with them, will come through. It’s an agonising wait, especially because it is going to determine whether or not I will be getting paid a salary! I will be the first paid member of staff and so it’s a really big deal to all of us. More about TRADE-MARK in a bit…

Anyway, I’ve committed a set number of hours a week to Josh and TRADE-MARK, and what with that, the usual time pressures that come with having two small children and also trying to keep up with my regular yoga classes that I teach in Stellenbosch, there’s not been much time left over for blogging. I love every one of my three ‘jobs’ (as mentioned above) but I really have been feeling increasingly that something needs to give. I wasn’t quite sure how or when or what it would look like, but I did know that I wanted to keep up with all three of them – a real juggling act, and one in which I didn’t want to drop any of the balls. So I started putting it out there (as the cliche goes) – the fact that I was very open to any form of help, support, helping to share the commitments or to take a bit of pressure off.

And wow, did the Universe listen! Literally, in the last few days, things have been falling into place in the most wonderful way possible. I can’t go into too much detail now as I’m still finalising things, but there are going to be some very exciting developments coming to Yoga With Nicci in the next while. I will keep you all posted – watch this space!

TRADE-MARK

Just a bit more about this phenomenal non-profit, as promised: TRADE-MARK is a non-profit organisation (registered as a Trust) that connects the best tradespeople – tilers, pavers, painters, carpenters – in the townships in the Helderberg basin with those who require their services. We have a rigorous selection process and a performance monitoring system that ensures both accountability and the highest quality service.

The idea was conceived by Joshua Cox in 2007.  Simon, a friend from the township of Diepsloot (an expert tiler/paver) was struggling to secure regular work. By providing Simon with business cards and a written reference, he was suddenly able to secure contracts of up to R30 000. It became clear that with added credibility and a few marketing resources, high-quality tradesmen from the townships were able to secure significantly more business.
There are many skilled tradespeople, just like Simon, living in the townships in South Africa. Marketing opportunities for these individuals are basically non-existent because of the lack of resources. Most of these tradespeople are sub-contracted to do work, intermittently. Others advertise their services on cardboard placards, or compete with numerous other tradespeople on the roadside for casual work. Some tradesmen, against all odds, have managed to secure jobs directly with customers and have established their own businesses, sub-contracting and finding their own work through word of mouth, handing out flyers, or advertising on Gumtree.
We hand-pick the best of these tradesmen: individuals with initiative and drive, who communicate well, and already have experience in dealing with customers but are not able to market themselves sufficiently to secure ongoing work.
Our vision is a South Africa in which people’s quality of life is determined more by hard work, diligence and integrity than the economic situation they are born into, that these qualities are recognised and rewarded and not masked by people’s preconceptions, that members of our society lead by example and play an active role in bettering this country, and that the gap between the rich and poor is continually being narrowed.
Our mission is to handpick highly skilled and diligent tradesmen (painters, pavers, tillers and carpenters) who live in townships around Somerset West, invest in them as leaders and role models in their communities (through additional skills training, create marketing opportunities for them to grow their individual businesses, and to encourage South Africans to become proactive in improving our country by offering them attractive choices to spend their money in the communities most in need.
Check out the website http://www.trade-mark.co.za to see how easy and straightforward it is to post a job. Just a few clicks and you’re there, and you will then be contacted by a skilled, vetted tradesman who will give you a free quote. Once the price is agreed, there is a simple contract to be signed by both parties, and after the job is done, you will be able to give feedback which we will share with the tradesman in question. Our tradesmen are top-notch guys who communicate well, run their own ‘businesses’ and who know that their reputati0n in what is going to take them forward in life.
It’s a brilliant concept, especially in this day and age where everyone is complaining about the lack of employment in South Africa, but it seems that not very much is being done about it. I have met some of the guys already, and look forward to meeting them all in time, and they are inspirational in terms of how they have risen about their circumstances and are achieving such success. This is not by any stretch of the imagination a bleeding heart charity, trying to give handouts – we are a middle man to help these entrepreneurs market themselves a bit better and to just get a little bit of a boost. We actively dis-incentivise them to become reliant on us to keep providing them with jobs – to avoid us being solely reliant on donor funding and also to empower the tradesmen, we charge them a 10% fee of whatever they quote for a job, but this is only for the first job – anything they get off the back of that first job is all theirs. Such is the calibre of our guys that we have had them insisting on giving us the 10% even for jobs that they got off the back of subsequent jobs (for example, Johannes from Sir Lowry’s Pass Village who did such a great job of painting a house that the guy’s neighbour asked him to do his own- Johannes was so appreciative of our initial lead that he insisted we take the 10%. We had to argue hard but we did it and he kept the full fee!)
We have got through the first two steps of the application process, and hopefully it’s just a matter of time before we get the good news that we’ve got the funding and we can really run with this. I am absolutely confident that it’s going to happen, because the way that things have been working out with my yoga studio just seem to be clearing the way for me to continue doing something that I love so much (teaching yoga in beautiful Stellenbosch) whilst also being able to really add value to TRADE-MARK, and still having the flexibility to be present and engaged with my little ones. Even as I write that, I can’t believe how beautifully things are lining up. Eternally grateful.