Have you laughed today?

It’s a chilly fall day and I’m sitting on my yoga mat at The Y. But this isn’t a regular yoga class, it’s laughter yoga. Never tried it before, but I’m game.

As I’m waiting for class to begin, I’m attempting to get into my usual cross-legged position. Only thing is, my knee hurts and it doesn’t want to cross. So the good leg is bent, and the leg with the bum knee is sticking straight out.

I don’t know how this is going to work, but I’m already here so I’ll give it a go. It’s just a temporary position anyway.

The lights go dim, and our instructor, Heidi, begins the class with an explanation of why laughter is so important in our lives and to our health.

Since I didn’t bring paper and pen for note taking, here is what helpguide.org has to say about the benefits of laughter:

Laughter is good for your health

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

After a brief explanation and centering, we begin. We do a variety of laughing exercises — some seated, some standing and some lying down. But we’re not really laughing, because there’s nothing that’s actually funny. So we do as Heidi tells us and we “fake it ’til we make it.”

But something is beginning to happen. I am really and truly laughing. Everything becomes funny. I am laughing at myself going through these silly exercises. I am laughing at everybody else because they are even sillier than I am…or so it seems from my perspective. I am cracking up at the giggle-snorts coming from the person next to me.

By the end of the class, I notice that something really amazing has happened. I have absolutely no pain in my knee anymore. I couldn’t even bend it just a little while ago, and now I am pain free! Wow, this stuff works. And it’s true…laughter IS the best medicine.

So I ask you: Have you laughed today?

Photo courtesy of photostock at freedigitalphotos.net.