The power of touch

I have been practicing yoga for about 15 years. When I first started, yoga teachers would adjust you, touch you, sometimes wrap their arms around you and it felt like you and your yoga teacher were one. Then around 8 or so years ago, it stopped. Completely! Well, you get a tap here and a tap there but really it changed pretty drastically. I realized quickly in this litigious society we live in that they were all afraid of getting sued. Thus I adjusted to the new way of doing yoga…no adjustments and finally after awhile, I accepted it.

I bring this up because recently while in yoga I got the royal treatment and realized how differently I felt when I left the class. My teacher did the full on shivasana treatment, pulled my legs, ran his hands down my back, pulled my shoulders up, smoothed my forehead out. Little does this yoga teacher know how much he made my day (or maybe he did). Then in another class the other day, I was feeling down and desperately hoping my yoga class would change my mood. Towards the end of class, a woman next to me that I had never met before (turned out to be a yoga instructor), just reached out and gently laid her hand on my leg giving me an adjustment in my supine twist. It literally snapped me out of my funk (thanks Valerie :).) 

Which got me to thinking about the power of touch and how much it can transform the way you feel and if it transforms the way you feel, what else does it do? Well I researched it: touch triggers the release of brain endorphins: an endogenous analgesic more powerful than heroin or morphine. Wow!

I believe for the most part, we all liked to be touched and it can literally transform a moment of being kinda blah to feeling so good, even transforming your entire day. Touch is a powerful tool and I think people are deprived of it in our society. We are a “touch phobic” society due to the reports on sexual harassment, child molestation, etc. when the simplest hug can be completely innocent.

Our 9-year-old son Zach and his buddy Quinn

From our first moments of life, the sense of touch is the most important of our five senses. We can’t live without it. It is a basic human need. This isn’t surprising when we think about how infants need loving touch to be healthy and develop properly. Additionally, touch can heal. Many conditions can be alleviated by the healing touch of another human being: headaches, stress, anxiety, difficulty relaxing, tiredness, chronic pain, strained or injured muscles. Healing touches release the body’s natural capacity to heal. It’s holistic; starting with the skin, it “touches” the mind and spirit as well as the body.


So my message is, if you see me, touch me! Hee-hee. No really, hug someone, reach out and touch someone, a loved one, a friend, TODAY. Don’t be afraid to touch. You could literally change the way that person or yourself feels for the rest of the day and best of all, it’s free!


21 thoughts on “The power of touch

  1. That’s such good advice, Nancy. I’ve been without Marianna for a week but she’s coming home to a warm hug tonight. In the meantime, I’ve been hugging lots of my friends.


      • So true right? I remember one time before I had children, I was so focused on school and didn’t date any one for over two years and really had not been touched by a man within these years. Then one day at school this huge football player came over and put his big hands on my shoulders and it was as if he had magic powers. It felt so good to be touched! He was a good friend then and now too. I guess I never told him how good it felt and how that memory stays with me to this very day. Hmm… maybe I’ll cal him and tell him now. 😉

  2. As Michael Franti said, “take off the rubber gloves and love like your life depends on it, cause it does”. You all remain such an inspiration to us all to slow down, laugh, love, and now touch… we all do forget the power of touch- thank you for the reminder 🙂

  3. I have never done Yoga…wish you lived closeby and you could help me get started. I have a book “Yoga for People with Arthritis” You inspire me to open the book and get going.

  4. Hello Nance,
    I am so glad you wrote about the importance of touch. It has always been a big part of who I am and I am a whole hearted believer.
    Thank you,

    oxox(many hugs to you!)

  5. Hey Nancy,
    Just wanted to check in to say thank you. Your experience with your family and Lance are inspiring others that you don’t even know. My wife, Karen and I are avid followers and supporters of Lance and huge fans of Love, Laugh, Veggies. In fact we recently made the brussell sprout salad and that has to be one of the best additions to our nutrition and lifestyle in a while. Thank you!!! Please know that you are in our prayers.

    Mike and Karen Hogan

    • Hey Buddy, We’re going to see you very soon! Nan is speaking at a conference in march at The Venetian. Hope you are well. I suspect we won’t be tying one on like the old days.

  6. Sometimes when I feel cranky and UNtouchable, I go and give Kel a big, strong hug. It ALWAYS helps (me anyway!) and I feel the crankies melting away. Great post!

  7. I miss Gentry hugs. I’ve been getting my hugs from the ocean. I was teaching at an on island Montessori school today and there is another “Amelie”, I got so emotional while singing with kids in circle remembering Alaya days with AMA and Zachy. Giving back rubs and hugs and cuddling with children at nap was a cozy thing we could do with our kids, it felt like family. Miss u guys so much.

  8. As usual your post brought tears to my eyes . But it also might have to do am at a 10 macrobiotic retreat so am seriously lacking in my number one drug which is sugar. Anyways I am a non hugger . I mean I have to force to let myself be hugged or to hug anyone aside from my daughter. People like to surprise me with a hug I think as they get a buzz from the shock effect that it entails . However I am absolutely sure there is power in touch, as love to be massaged so am working on it . Unfortunately I missed Amma the beautiful hugging Indian woman when she came to Paris Actually a friend of mine asked me to go with her but I obviously wasn’t ready. Amma is touring Australia in April so I will miss her again as was there at Christmas. But, I will catch up with you Amma I am sure of it . x Melissa

  9. I remember we had that hugging conversation in NY. Amma actually blessed my belly on January 1, 2002 in Kerala, India and I got pregnant approximately 5 days later. She again blessed my belly 6 months pregnant in Santa Fe. You must see her. I am sure her hug would be very healing in more ways the one. Thanks as always Melissa for sharing. We love all you have to say and we can’t wait to hear about your retreat.
    xo Nancy

  10. Nancy,
    Thank you so much for sharing this. I occasionally, and secretly top by to check on you and Lance. I feeling kind of silly and shy about it. Maybe because I feel so bad that we lost touch so long ago. But I’m always inspired and amazed by you. This post particularly. Because I sometimes struggle with touch. I find myself, shrinking or feeling shy from touches from strangers and friends. But at the same time, I feel the way I do when I have not had enough water. I don’t know why I do this, maybe it’s my defense from giving too much. But when I do, when I get past that, and give someone a hug, especially when I sense someone needs it, I realize at that moment, just how much I needed it too. This post makes me so aware of our quick wake-ups and quick kisses to the kids as I put them on the bus to school. And now, I can’t wait when I see them off the bus to give them a big hug and kiss. To just savor that close contact.
    So thank you. And bless you.
    Your old friend, Suzanne

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