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
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
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
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…
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.
It’s called the biology of hope.It’s good for your health to have something positive to look
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.
“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
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.”
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…
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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…
relaxes you.It makes you more
joyful.It causes others to smile
back. Then it’s joy
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
I am a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader and affiliate of Laughter Yoga International as well as a Certified Laughter Leader and affiliate of World Laughter Tour. I have been bringing laughter into the world since the day I was born and have been leading programs in Laughter Yoga in the Pacific Northwest since October 2001. I created this blog to share my thoughts and experiences on the healing power of laughter. Visit my website at www.onethousandlaughs.com