Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Warm Up

Smile - it's a warm up to laughter!

Smile more in 2013.

Photo:  Stock.xchnge

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Joy this Season

I wish for everyone a joy filled season!

Photo:  Stock.xchnge

Monday, December 17, 2012

Smart (?) Phones

When they’re all on their smart phones, where’s the laughter?   For generally it takes human interaction to generate laughter.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Breathe Correctly

I posted this a few years ago, but since one of my faithful readers is so interested in the subject, and since it’s an important topic, I’ll post it here again.

In Laughter Yoga, as in life, it’s important to breathe correctly.

Breathing correctly means two things:  breathing through your nose and breathing from your diaphragm. 

When you breath through your nose, the air is filtered, moistened and warmed.  When you breath through your mouth, the air is dirty, dry and cold.  We were designed to breath through our nose.  If you’re not talking, eating, laughing, singing or kissing, your mouth should be shut. 

When you breath from your diaphragm (located below the lungs and heart), this area will move.  As you inhale your diaphragm will expand; as you exhale, your diaphragm will deflate. 

If you’re breathing incorrectly you’re probably hyperventilating, which simply means taking in too much oxygen by breathing too much and too fast.  Most people in our society are hyperventilating without knowing it.

If you are breathing through your mouth, you are automatically breathing too much, because your mouth is three times bigger than your nose.

If you are breathing from your upper chest (as most adults are), you are automatically breathing too fast, as it takes less time to move air in and out of your chest.  Breathing from your diaphragm automatically slows your breathing down.

In summary, if you’re hyperventilating already and then come to do laughter yoga, you could run into trouble getting light-headed, i.e. hyperventilating even more.  When we laugh our breathing speeds up which is generally a great thing because it oxygenates the body.  But if you’re already taking in too much oxygen, it can tip the oxygen/carbon dioxide ratio off balance.  For me this started to happen, after many years of leading laughter yoga sessions.  I learned that I had been breathing incorrectly forever, i.e. I had chronic hyperventilation.  I have since corrected that problem through proper breathing and have been able to enjoy all the great benefits of laughter yoga again.

Photo:  My Roman nose through which I should be breathing…

Monday, December 3, 2012

Self-created Smile

This young man decided to smile – as a conscious choice.  He noticed he wasn’t a smiler and decided to change that –  by simply smiling - often.  He’s now fallen in love with smiling. It’s become his default expression. 

No one who knows him now would ever believe that he wasn’t always a fulltime smiler.

I think his self-created smile is pretty special.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Laughter Yoga Testimonial

“I walked into the laugher session very depressed.  It was Easter weekend and I was very lonely.  What they had me do did not just lift stress from my body, it lifted stress from my soul.

Reggie Wells
Make Up Artist for Oprah

Thursday, November 29, 2012


“Every Promise is a Gift in Advance.”

It’s called the biology of hope.  It’s good for your health to have something positive to look forward to.

In the world of laughter research, studies find that simply anticipating that you will be laughing triggers the immune system boost in your body.  Even before you begin to laugh.  Simply knowing that you will is enough for your body’s chemistry to activate.

Be sure to have gifts in life to look forward to.

Photo:  Stock.xchnge

Monday, November 26, 2012

John Cleese

“I’m struck by how laughter connects you with people.  It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance or any sense of social hierarchy when you’re just howling with laughter.  Laughter is a force for democracy.”  John Cleese

Photo:  Cleese with the Muppets/Wikimedia

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Give Thanks to Yourself

Much is said about gratitude this time of year.  Giving thanks fosters more joy in life.  It can’t be denied.  The more you are grateful, the more joy grows inside.

But consider this:  give thanks to yourself as well.

After many years of practicing gratitude daily, it occurred to me to begin to thank myself for all I had done for others and the world. It’s a great truth that you are no doubt a gift to others.  I shared this idea with a friend who is a mother.  She loved it for mothers give so much of themselves.  It’s easy for their cup to run dry.

It was such a new concept at first I only did it occasionally – gave thanks to myself for what I had done for others that day, small and large things, thoughts, gestures, wisdom, or even just a smile; often little things that gave others a bit of brightness to their day.  But eventually, after breaking through that barrier of awkwardness and self-consciousness at honoring myself, I made it a regular part of my daily gratitude ritual.

We are gifts to the world.  We are gifts to each other.  It’s important to recognize it.

Photo:  Stock.xchnge

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Whale Wins

 “Laughter is brightest when food is best.”

It’s an Irish proverb written on the floor of my local health food supermarket.  And I watched it happen the other night at dinner.

The Whale Wins is the oddly named restaurant that just opened in my neighborhood and it’s got amazing culinary delights.  My foodie friend and gourmand Maurice joined me there for dinner recently.  I sat across the table from him and watched his reaction as he took his first sip of the parsnip soup.  Even I wasn’t expecting it to elicit a burst of prolonged laughter – it was that good!

We ended up spending way too much, eating way too much - but it was a seriously happy meal.

I know this isn’t a food blog but really, The Whale Wins is a total win, with truly exceptional edible creations.  It might even bring you to laughter.

Friday, November 16, 2012


“If you laugh a lot, when you get older your wrinkles will be in all the right places.”

Photo:  Stock.xchnge

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Joy Kills Sorrow

I saw a band Friday night called Joy Kills Sorrow at The Fremont Abbey.  Aside from having such a great name, and being a cast of amazingly accomplished musicians, the lead singer, this lovely young woman, at one point breaks into laughter with the guitar player and can’t keep singing.  My kind of people.  The embodiment of joy!

She apologized for cracking up in the middle of a song, but of course we all loved it!   

Music and laughter – no more powerful combination of joy!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

An Excuse to Laugh

I had a friend who used to send me funny little messages that I loved because they made me laugh.  But in person he was quite different, quiet, understated, subdued.  Much more like the person I knew to be working on his PhD thesis.  But then the next day, another funny message.

It’s gotten me thinking how some people just need an excuse to lighten up.

My ex used to love to come to the laughter club.  He was often one of the few men who attended.  Yet he fit right in and more importantly he could easily assess how it benefitted him.  Yet if you knew him, you’d be surprised that he took to Laughter Yoga so easily, for he doesn’t easily laugh in life. He has even been called dower.

I’ve seen this over and over, the quiet ones come and find a place and an excuse to loosen up and laugh.

At one of the retirement communities where I bring laughter yoga, there used to be an old man named Jim.  He was very quiet and subdued, yet during the laughter sessions he had a wonderful loud and boisterous laugh like he was having the time of his life. I was amazed when the activity director told me this was the only time she heard him laugh.

Photo:  Stock.xchnge

Monday, November 5, 2012

Oprah endorses Laughter Yoga

Oprah says “Laughter yoga combines laughter with yoga breathing exercises.  It is a perfect way to laugh and get exercise at the same time.  It approaches laughter as a body exercise so it’s easy to laugh even if you’re depressed or in a bad mood.  I’ve tried it and it works.”

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Laughter and Creativity

Which comes first the chicken or the egg?

Laughing wakes up creativity – which makes the comedian funny – which makes them laugh more – which makes them funnier…

Openness = flowing ideas.  Laughter stimulates both hemispheres of the brain simultaneously.  Students who laugh before taking exams exhibit more creativity.  Laughter abolishes inhibition which equals more creativity flowing…

Let go, relax, laugh and be creative!

Photo:  Stock.xchnge

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dinner Laughs

 Someone recently asked me why I go out to eat so much.

There are several answers, certainly beginning with the amazing food I wouldn’t be able to create at home.  Then there’s simply dressing up and going out – always uplifting.  But most importantly it’s the social camaraderie I get from the dinner group I belong to.  And all the laughter that follows.  We’ve become like a family and we enjoy a tremendous amount of fun and laughter.

If you need more laughter in your life, get out and starting having some fun with others.  And know that true camaraderie can take some time to develop, but it’s worth it in the end.

Photo:  Some of my dinner companions

Monday, October 22, 2012

Laughter and Longevity

My friend Elmer jokes that 90 is the new 70.  Aside from bad knees he’s the epitome of that joke.

I ask him how it is that he’s 90 and in such good shape.  He answers me with another joke:  “I never drove fast cars, I never chased women, and I only sometimes lied.”  Cute.

I ask again, fishing for the answer that I want:  laughter.  He answers me again with another joke.  Before my final request for the answer I want, I realize he’s delivered it to me already with his three jokes.

Stay young in spirit to stay young in body.

Photo:  My friend Elmer

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Socrates said:  “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Adlai Stevenson said:  “Life without laughter is not worth examining.”

Photo:  Stock.xchnge

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Where's the Love?

The Dalia Lama once said, about Americans, “They shower love on their animals much more than they do on each other”.  I thought this was an astute observation.  You see it everywhere – people cold and reserved with each other while they lovey it up with their dogs and cats.  Something’s amiss.

Yet when we laugh, love rises out of it spontaneously.  It’s why I love promoting laughter.  It’s why laughter is the #1 most romantic trait.  Hearts soften instantly.

When you get that person, who is loving their dog and ignoring you, to laugh, you immediately witness the ice melt.  They soften and start to feel the connection that naturally flows between people.

Laugh – and the love follows.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Uplifting Smiles

Uplifting smiles

If you’re over a certain age and you want to keep your face from sagging, just smile.  It pulls everything UP!  Try it in the mirror.

Photo:  Stock.xchnge

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


"Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live."

Photo:  Stock.xchnge

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Rose was the brightest spirit!

I led a laughter program for a retirement community recently, where the brightest spirit was a woman named Rose.  Rose ended up visiting with me for a while at the end, sharing a bit of herself and her history; which I slowly realized, being both Jewish and German, included two years in a concentration camp during WWII.  Yet she was the most receptive to Laughter Yoga, had the brightest light in her eyes and laughed the easiest.  Go figure!  It’s always the way of it.

Photo:  Stock.xchnge

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Three Types of People

I had a shock recently when I visited my doctor’s office.  It had been some time since I’d been there.  So when said doctor walked in to the office, and I quickly realized something was amiss, only to be confirmed when she/he announced to me that she was a “dude now”, I pretty much went into shock.  The fact that she used humor to ease the shock was a gift.

Yes my naturopath, who as far as I knew was still a woman, has chosen to become a man.  It was a tremendous surprise.

I was already in a slightly anxious state as she/he was about to inject a needle to pull out my blood.  So my usual m-o, which is to make a joke in order to laugh and relax, was a bit slow on the uptake.  All I could muster was “Wow!”

But in the course of our short visit, we did manage to interject some humor and get a few laughs.  For this is how we’ve always conducted our visits.  I was glad the gender switch didn’t change that.  I postponed freaking out until I left the office.  And I can proudly state that after my initial freak- out, I was able to laugh about it.  I am still pretty much alternating between these two modes - shock and laughter.

In her book Growing Up Laughing, Marlo Thomas states, there are three kinds of people:

·      Those who can never laugh at a challenge
·      Those who can laugh after the challenge has passed
·      Those who can laugh right in the midst of it 

     I thought I did pretty well.

     Photo:  Stock.xchnge

Monday, September 17, 2012

Smile while you...

Smile while you…

I know I was going around smiling today because everyone was smiling back at me.  In the grocery store.  Walking down the street.  In my apartment building.  I checked once as I passed by a shop window and sure enough I was smiling.  I know I was feeling lighter today.  Perhaps that’s why.  Perhaps I’ve simply trained myself to smile often enough that it's become my default expression.

Smile while you do what you do.  I heard a spiritual teacher say it once.  I’ve said it myself many times.  It enhances the act, whatever it is.

Smile while you do the dishes.
Smile while you exercise.
Smile while you walk.
Smile while you drive.
Smile while you…

Try it.  It relaxes you.  It makes you more joyful.  It causes others to smile back.  Then it’s joy multiplied.

Photo:  Stock.xchnge

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

La Traviata

When the waiter casually asked us how we were today, he wasn’t at all prepared when I announced “Actually we’re all emotionally drained from the opera we just left.”

The table exploded into one big laugh, no one more than me.  Save the waiter, who took about 30 seconds to recover.  Clearly he’d not gotten this response before.  But he got back at me, repeatedly teasing me for the rest of our lunch.  Not a problem.  I love to laugh.

It occurred to me later that probably no one needed that laugh as much as me.  I am definitely what you call “the sensitive one”.  I feel things deeply and was truly spent after that amazing opera.  Verdi’s Traviata is such a wrenching mess of a love story.  Like opera always is.  And like life can be, though gratefully not so dramatically.

Comedians are generally very sensitive people.  They are the ones who feel things the deepest, need the cathartic release the most, and so make the laughter happen.

I definitely needed to laugh after that amazingly powerful Traviata.*

*Simulcast from the Metropolitan Opera.

Photo:  Stock.xchnge