Let me begin with a quote from a well-known Swami of Laughter. “The Human Jestive System: We have been given the human jestive system to turn the material of life into healing laughter.” Swami Beyondananda.
I am fascinated how laughter transforms us from the inside out. Time and time again, I am told how practising our laughter exercises, and combining these with yogic breathing, stretching and fun activities like singing, dancing and playing games together opens up pathways, doorways and opportunities to live in a more meaningful way. Anxiety, stress, insomnia, depression, loneliness are some of the conditions that are very effectively helped by laughing every day. Our goal of Laughter Yoga is to connect people at heart level. It is wonderful to see how many friendships are made through laughter. And, it is common for people to experience new levels of love, compassion, kindness and forgiveness coming into their life through laughing together. This ultimately brings true healing of the Mind, Body & Spirit.
Our laughter exercises are based on the “material of life” and although Dr Kataria began with forty foundation exercises, over the years hundreds more have been added from around the world. The wonderful thing is that anyone can contribute ideas which everyone then benefits from. Every time we practise a laughter exercise we are in fact, moving our mind set and enabling our imaginative, creative mind to step in. What weighs us down in life can be stretched, moved and magically be dissolved into hilarious nothingness. This means that we can begin to see, feel and experience things from a different perspective, making life’s challenges more manageable.
Here are a few favourite laughter exercises. I encourage you to try them out and see what happens!
Negative thoughts bucket – imagine you have a huge bucket by your feet. And also, imagine you have a plug in the side of your head. Unplug it, turn your head onto that side and pull out all the negative thoughts you have in your head laughing as you pull. Turn your head on the other side, unplug your plug and pull even more negative thoughts out of your head, laughing as you pull. Your bucket is now full. You have a massive matchstick in your pocket. Light it and set fire to your negative thoughts, exclaiming a loud “Ker…pow!” Yes! Those thoughts are gone! And, your mind is now clear and free to laugh, love and live your life fully.
Pat on the back stretching and laughing – Stretch one arm up as you take a deep breath in through your nose. Hold it, hold it, hold it and then as you breathe out, give yourself a pat on the back and laugh. Very good! Very good! Yey! You are an amazing person! Do the same again with the other arm.
Laughter Cream – this is excellent to ease any aches or pains in your body. To make your cream, simply rub your hands together vigorously, and laugh into your hands. When you have laughter cream dripping down your arms, you have enough to begin rubbing on any parts of you that feel achy or sore. Rub and laugh at the same time. This laughter cream is great to share with others. Have fun and enjoy experimenting together!
Self-hug stretching and laughing – stretch both arms out at shoulder height as your take a deep breath in through your nose. Hold it, hold it, hold it and as your breathe out giggle gently and give yourself a huge hug! Aaaaah! That feels good. Repeat as many times as you like.
Here is a little chant to wake up your body any time of the day. Gently pat all over your body as you say, “Wake up body, wake up cells! I am happy! I am well!” This can be repeated for any parts of your body. For example, “Wake up brain, wake up cells! I am happy! I am well!” And, pat your head.
I shall leave you today with a final piece of wisdom from Swami Beyondananda. He says: …”As we wise up to the gravity, we must rise up with the levity. Not only does levity help us rise above whatever has been bringing us down, it shows us a higher perspective. When we wake up laughing, there is an awakening. In the wake of the
ha-ha, there’s an “aha.” And after the aha, there’s an “aaaaaaahhhh…” And, just like that, hearty laughter lifts us out of our head, and puts us squarely in the heart.”