Yoga Humour


The last week or so in my universe has been filled with the need to be constantly on guard against allowing negative energies to ‘seep’ into my own field of happiness.  Hours at work have been reduced because first quarter profits were less than anticipated; the company brazenly posted the salary of the CEO on their corporate site – and all ‘H E double hockey sticks’ broke out.  Hundreds of employees all making a subsidence wage (myself included) and now facing reduced hours, customer service failing, theft up…  Then there is the world in general – uprisings, war, famine, hunger – it can feel like I am on a runaway train that is racing faster and faster down a steep hill.  The difference is now I’m sitting quietly on one of the seats reading a good book, or enjoying the view out the window with a faint grin on my face as opposed to feeling like I am chained to the nose of the locomotive.

The Yoke of modern life

Ever experience days like this?  Weeks?  There are times when life’s troubles seemed to run on forever – until we feel crushed under a giant weight that pins us down, helpless; despite our daily struggles towards freedom.  This false sense of confinement and burden by everyday life is one of the “yoke’s” that regular Yoga practice helps throw off our shoulders for good.  That precious time we set aside to find peace and silence within ourselves as we allow our body’s to relax into the asanas and communicate to us the physical results of the day’s troubles…

For the remainder of the day – and those days when we allow life to take that precious Yoga session away from ourselves and rob us of the freedom it brings…there is always the Yoga of Humour.  I discovered quite some time ago that all of nature was already quite funny in its natural state – people included – and I’ve seen myself in a mirror (too funny!) – Pretty much everything has a humorous sideall it takes is a little shift in your point of view.  Now before anyone starts ranting and raving that if it is a point of view, it isn’t real:  Our entire existence in this world is solely dependent on our point of view, conscious or otherwise.  We have to accept that there will be day to day “yokes” of life we shoulder and carry the burden of – until the day we have learned to let them go.  Humour Yoga takes most of the weight out our problems and allows us to toss them off that much more easily.

What is Humour Yoga?

Simply put, a conscious effort to find the humorous side of anything that would normally cause us to react in some negative fashion. This doesn’t mean you are going to start laughing in the face of a six foot five inch giant of a man carrying a baseball bat and a mean look on his face – but the humorous approach you take will change the outcome.  Why did I choose this example?  It happened to me at work this week; except it was not a baseball bat, but a 175lb. bull dog with just as much attitude as its owner.  Not the dog’s fault though…

There was only myself and one female employee on for the entire evening due to these aforementioned ‘cutbacks,’ and I would almost be willing to swear that this guy somehow knew that when he started banging on our alley-facing receiving door.  We do not normally open this door as there is no view into the alley – but I could see through a crack in the metal that he was carrying an LCD TV he must have purchased at our store.  The rest of the story has to wait until after the court testimony I must give later in March – but suffice to say there were threats, yelling and swearing, using the dog to lunge at me and then pull him back on the leash…you name it, he tried it.

The Peaceful Yoga Warrior

There was a time in my life that as a soldier I would have responded very differently, allowing the insults, etc…to feed my rage against this person, perhaps even gladly meeting violence with further violence – but not now.  Instead I smiled.  I smiled at the humour of the universe because I would have never guessed something like this was waiting for me today.  I smiled because ultimately, if I was to die here today, it would be exactly the right time and in exactly the right way that it was supposed to occur.  I smiled because I already knew that any man who brings a large dog with him expecting a confrontation is at heart a coward.

Instead of yelling in return, I spoke gently and so quietly he was soon yelling at his dog to shut up.  When he threatened or used the dog to threaten, I smiled at the imaginary line in the sand between them and myself.  I smiled at the dog, and soon much to his owner’s chagrin, the dog would wag his tail and try to come to me when the owner wasn’t yelling and swearing at me.  Sadly for the cowardly fellow, I also saw the humour in his situation when the police came bursting through the doors leading to the receiving area from the front of the store.

Make lemonade

Humour Yoga is not just about laughing or finding things funny enough to smile about, it is more importantly about taking in all of life with a real sense of humour.  When life appears to be handing you lemons, smile and make lemonade.  When you fall flat on your face, have a good laugh at yourself instead of becoming upset. (Of course, this is only after looking around to see if anyone saw you, which is the first thing we all do – which is funny!)  The art of Humour Yoga means letting go, even if just for a short while…Step out of the game of life, sit back, smell the roses, watch the rest of the world continue to scurry by and smile at Life’s own sense of humour.

Humour Yoga not only improves your day to day interactions and experiences, it also has profound effects on the physical body and your mental state.  Less stress equates to better physical and mental health, smiling more burns more calories and causes the release of several chemical in both the brain and glands – and finally, the humorous approach to life quickly leaves the Ego (sense of “I”) without fodder to complain about, leading to a quieter more balance mental and emotional state.

The best way to learn Humour Yoga

Spend at least four hours on a nice day doing exactly what John Lennon says below in the chorus.  That’s it!  Then all you have to do is remember…you have to let it go.  “Watching the Wheels” was written in 1980, and is just as valid today as it was over thirty years ago.  That is the funny thing about truth and true words of wisdom…they remain valid despite the passing of time.

Watching The Wheels
John Lennon

People say I’m Crazy doing what I’m doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I’m o.k. they look at me kind of strange
Surely you’re not happy now you no longer play the game

People say I’m lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I’m doing fine watching shadows on the wall
Don’t you miss the big time boy you’re no longer on the ball?

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

People asking questions lost in confusion
Well I tell them there’s no problem, only solutions
Well they shake their heads and look at me as if I’ve lost my mind
I tell them there’s no hurry…
I’m just sitting here doing time

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

Let it go.  Step off of life’s merry-go-round long enough to take in all that is around you with a sense of joy, humour, and the understanding that this physical existence is meant to be a playground, not a yoke that bears down on our souls.  Then you too can step back onto that runaway train we call modern life and then sit beside me and enjoy the view.  It is honestly much better here looking out the window or reading a good book…perhaps we’ll chat.  In any case, it beats being strapped to the front of the train.  Less bugs in your teeth too!

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