Laughter Yoga
~by Tammy Lawrence-Cymbalisty

Giggles and chuckles can make a body feel extraordinary! There are times in yoga class when I encourage people to laugh outloud for no particular reason. It's very interesting to watch as some people grow very uncomfortable, while others jump into the giggle-fest with their entire being.

I remember the first few times I taught laughter yoga. I recall exactly how challenging it was. At that time I wondered how I would allow myself to laugh on que? Plus, I had already decided it would be challenging to do so. Something very interesting started to happen, once I started I realized how silly all of us looked, the process began to simply unfold. Even now sometimes it is very hard to begin the process either while in class or alone.

Instead of observing my own discomfort with the laughter process, I simply got out of my own way and allowed the process to unfold. Now I spend time observing others working through similar feelings.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." -Aristotle

Allow yourself to explore your excellence; perfect just as you are. Besides human beans are pretty funny!

Sometimes it helps to think of a funny joke or situation that you recall. Yet having something funny on your mind is not a prerequisite. Allow yourself to relax and then begin to laugh. It will feel forced, weird and uncomfortable at first. Shortly you will find something interesting begin to occur. You will actually be laughing. Not a fake pressing yourself forward laugh, but a real belly laugh. (If someone walks into the room you WILL laugh even harder!)
Laugh for 30 seconds, one minute or as long as it feels comfortable (laughter after all does make the belly sore and the facial muscles hurt).

When you are finished, sit quietly and observe the effects of the laugher on your body. Instead of being mindful that the belly is sore, you will notice a warmth and glow; almost as if you did 10 minutes of abdominal strengtheners. The facial muscles will feel similar, warm, smooth and relaxed.

Try it today! You'll thank yourself for the secretion of your wonder-filled laughter essence.

Benefits of Laughter:

Laughter boosts the immune system.
Laughter increases immunoglobulin A which fights upper respiratory infection.
Laughter decreases stress.
Laughter benefits mind and soul.
Laughter is good for the cardio vascular system.
Laughter encourages the body to release endorphins; great for pain relief and relaxation!

View Tammy's yoga schedule here. 'Forced' laughter is not used in all classes and most times occurs naturally!