I once co-taught a class at the University of Washington with a senior doing her thesis on Laughter in Education, incorporating Laughter Yoga. As with all great experiences, it was both challenging and rewarding. I was in no denial that generally they were all there for the 2 easy credits. But still the magic happened.
It was nerve-wracking at first to introduce Laughter Yoga to college students, but I soon realized they were as scared of me as I was of them. For they quickly realized their 2 easy credits involved some stretching, i.e. “laughing for no reason”.
I fondly recall some of them (names changed to protect the innocent):
Donny – whose ease with Laughter Yoga was a pure joy and helped the others loosen up.
Stephen – who healed his childhood experiences of being constantly scolded in school for laughing and now loved the irony of receiving credit for it at a major university. Stephen had the most delightful innocent laugh.
Tim – who had done a bit of stand-up comedy, was quite open to Laughter Yoga, and gave me feedback I cherish: “It takes a special person to be able to command the type of respect needed for something as silly as laughing at the sound of vowels.”
The other Tim: who had actually researched Laughter Yoga before attending the class, was the only student who smiled at me while I was lecturing, and gave me the ego-stroking feedback: “Teresa Rocks”!!!
Mark – the deaf student who didn’t participate anywhere close to this degree in any of his other classes and brought me lots of laughs when he did.
Last but far from least Jennifer – symbolic of the whole reason anyone ever becomes a teacher: to witness a student transform.
Easy 2 credits aside, I could not fathom why this person signed up for this class for she was truly miserable at first. I’m sure she rarely laughed in life. She clearly expressed her incomprehension and almost disdain at the whole idea of Laughter Yoga, yet upon being told by my co-teacher that she had to try if she wanted to pass, made the most amazing transformation that left both of us teachers in tears by the end.
Some of her parting words on her final essay were: “I realized my life doesn’t have to have this or that in it to be happy, but everyone has the opportunity to laugh. I saw left and right these potentials to laugh. I started seeing all the times when I just mope around and don’t talk to people around me. I am not as afraid and have more confidence in myself and feel more connected to the world around me. It was like this great movement of energy outward instead of always keeping things in.”