Laughing Your Way Through Yoga Class

Not very long ago a good friend of mine introduced me to laughter yoga. At first I was bewildered thinking surely that she must be joking. Sure enough…there it was on YouTube. As I was watching, somewhat baffled I admit, I realized that a smile was forming on my face. Watching all these people laugh was funny. Before long the kids were over my shoulder, wondering what in the world I was laughing at. They too started laughing. The whole thing was either so stupid it was funny, or was just really funny. I have yet to figure it out. But truth be told, after several videos we were all in hysterics and we felt really really good. The rest of the day flew past and as my daughters would pass me they would just start fake laughing and eventually we would all end up real laughing. That night my cheeks hurt and my belly was sore….all from laughter.

Interestingly enough one of my 10 year olds decided she would be interested in taking a yoga class with me. Hmmm, I thought this is supposed to be my time….but as her body is changing and she is seemingly more concerned with her health I thought it might be fun. As we drove to class, she asked me if it was like laughter yoga. I explained to her that it was different than that and that in this yoga class we were doing the poses and the breathing and finding our sense of calm and inner strength. She just shrugged. So we get to class! My friends were surprised to see her with me. We grabbed our spot on the floor and instruction began. Not two minutes in to the first round of breathing exercises my well mannered little lady let out some intestinal gas. I tried to ignore. As we moved into our first round of poses she began tipping over like some sort of statue about to fall off a shelf. I still tried to ignore. She was giggling. After that her hands made funny noises as they stuck to her mat – so funny in fact she had to do it again and again smiling the whole time. I quickly cut my eyes at her trying to get her to be serious and there she was with a big huge grin on her face. I could tell things were not going to get better. It seemed every time she moved, twisted or breathed she snorted like a caged pig as she was trying to withhold her laughter. People in the class were beginning to lose their concentration (or their patience) and were starting to shoot ME looks. I would simply smile and point to her…It was her…not ME!

Then came the cat stretches. As her bottom poked high into the air she began rocking wildly looking like Britney Spears having a seizure. Then came the humming of the tune to “lets get physical” by Olivia Newton John. I could take it no more and as embarrassed and humiliated as I was I began laughing uncontrollably. I dropped down to the mat and tried to quiet myself and just breathe to get serious again but I could not do it. Then my daughter stared at me like I was the embarrassment. Okay Okay Okay I said, I can do this and get back to the yoga…..

Unfortunately I could not. Whenever someone made a funny, immature noise or looked ridiculous trying to do a pose I found it hilarious. My daughter would look at me and the smile would come back and I knew the laughing was just seconds away. I tried really hard not to – worried that I was ruining the class for everyone. Finally the instructor stood up and looked at us in the back of the room. I knew we were going to get kicked out. Right as she did, with my daughter had some more effects from the chili she ate the night before….The instructor too started laughing. Everyone was laughing, rolled down on the mats. I had tears in my eyes and finally just gave in again too. It can be sufficed by saying that yoga class as we knew it was OVER! But laughter yoga class ensued to the end. Even the music playing in the background seemed hilarious.

As we left we were still cracking up in the car. No real reason…but my daughter decided that yoga was not as much fun as she thought it would be. I was relieved to hear it because I knew that next week she would not be welcomed back.

So here’s the thing! Laughter like any other type of energy is contagious. It may seem ridiculous but scientifically the endorphins that we release when we laugh can save our lives. The effects of laughter on blood pressure and immune functions are amazing. Perhaps laughter yoga is not so silly after all! I normally feel pretty good when I leave class, but on this day I felt great…no – actually I felt whole and perfect and felt like a being that was living life the way it was supposed to be lived. The laughter energy remained with my daughter and me throughout the day. Every time we saw each other we would laugh for no real reason. During class I realized that it was much more difficult to control the natural, healthy laughter than it was to just laugh. Probably in most of our lives we don’t really laugh enough anymore. Maybe it’s because we learned manners and have stopped finding everything so humorous. But lets be real some of us (myself included) look really funny doing some of the yoga moves. I do know that I am extremely thankful that my instructor did not pull out the work out balls on that day. I can only imagine what my daughter would find amusing about a bunch of grown women balancing on big balls with the cheeks of our behinds all smooshed and distorted.

Even now going back to class alone I can’t do yoga in the back of the room, its just too funny being able to see everyone. Often I have to close my eyes so I can’t see my friends in the mirror or I too would just start laughing…..But I do know that laughter is and should be a healthy part of yoga. Laughing works for the body in much the same way that yoga does. Thank God we still have our children around to remind us just how funny things can be!

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