Archive for stress

What is Laughter Yoga?

What is Laughter Yoga?

Laughter Yoga, also known as Hasya Yoga, combines unconditional laughter with yogic deep breathing exercises.

Dr. Madan Kataria, western trained medical doctor and Founder of the Laughter Yoga movement says,

If we can learn to change our breathing pattern from shallow to deep, we can easily alter our body arousal system. With deep breathing, our body will not experience stress response, even if we have disturbing thoughts.

Benefits of Laughter Yoga

  • Stimulates deep breathing;
  • Reduces the levels of stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol;
  • Lifts depression!
  • Increases brain endorphins and serotonin that act as mood enhancers and natural pain-killers;
  • Improves lung capacity & oxygen levels to the blood & circulation of both the cardiovascular & lymphatic system;
  • Promotes better sleep;
  • Internally massages the digestive tract promoting better digestion;
  • Provides a safe aerobic workout. The heart rate increase in 1 minute of hearty laughter is equal to 10 minutes of rowing or jogging;
  • Exercises facial and abdominal muscles;
  • Boosts the immune system by increasing levels of anti-viral and anti-infection cells;
  • Boosts self-confidence, creativity, improves communication skills and creates positive group energy;
  • It’s fun!

What happens during typical Laughter Yoga class?

During a Laughter Yoga class you will breathe deeply, clap, chant, be playful like a child, stretch, practice laughter exercises, make eye contact with others in the group and sit or lay in silent meditation.

To learn more about what happens in my Laughter Yoga classes, read my interview in Laugh Magazine “When Giggles Make Good Medicine“. (click the image once to enlarge for easier viewing)

Key Components

 

#1. Clap rhythmically & Chant, “Ho, Ho, Ha, Ha, Ha”

Laughter Yoga clapping is different from regular clapping. Palms are facing one another and the aim is to have full impact with the palm area, fingers hit opposite fingers. This warm up exercise stimulates acupressure points on the palms and improves blood circulation in the entire body. Clapping while chanting and moving about the room while maintaining eye contact with others helps build energy levels and creates a sense of playfulness and well-being.

#2. Breathe Deeply

Deep breathing brings about physical and mental relaxation. The most important part of any yoga practice is the breath. Yoga (in any form) cultivates deep breathing.

Deep breathing increases oxygen delivery to the body, specifically, to your cells, and aids in detoxification and stress relief.

Most of our lung capacity comes from abdominal breathing, but if you aren’t bringing in oxygen this way (as a result of shallow chest breathing), your body retains stale air full of carbon dioxide and potential toxins. Laughter increases oxygen intake and breathing in more fully oxygenates the blood, leaving the body bursting with energy. More oxygen is good for you! :-)

#3. Laugh

Many of the Laughter Yoga exercises originated from traditional yoga poses (like Lion Laughter demonstrated below) but the possibilities of creating new variations of exercises is limited only by the imagination of the participants.

Lion Laughter, Ha Ha Ha

Laughter Yoga combines breathing (pranayama) with rapid diaphragmatic contractions involved when we laugh from the belly.

Some techniques involve play acting (driving laughter, cocktail laughter, mental floss laughter) and others are called value-based techniques. The VBT’s are exercises where we put ourselves in real live (often stressful situations) and replace the negative responses with positive responses. Some examples include argument laughter, stuck in traffic laughter, credit card bill laughter and a recent development, Brazilian Bikini Wax Laughter (learn how to do it here).

Scientific research shows that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter (or fake smiles and real smiles). One gets the same physiological and psychological benefits from faking it as from doing it for real.

In Laughter Yoga, the “motion” of fake laughter, creates the “emotion” of joy.

Anyone can laugh for no reason (yes, even you), without relying on humor, jokes or comedy.

#4. Silence & Meditation

At the end of the Laughter Yoga series of exercises we spend time slowing ourselves down. We take time to sit in stillness and silence to integrate the healing benefits of our deep breathing and laughter practice.

We may sit in easy pose (legs crossed) or lie on our backs in a relaxation pose.

How will you feel at the end of a Laughter Yoga class?

Most participants report feeling refreshed, relaxed and energized. Click here to read what people are saying after practicing Laughter Yoga with Christa.

Relative Contraindications/Medical Advisory:

Laughter Yoga is not a substitute for medical consultation for physical or mental illnesses.

Rule # 1 in Laughter Yoga is NO STRAIN, NO NEW PAIN.

Laughter Yoga is aerobic exercise and it is not suitable for people suffering from uncontrolled high blood pressure, people who have had surgery within the last 3 months, acute illness, internal bleeding, severe heart disease, epilepsy (or seizure disorders), any kind of hernia, severe backache or psychotic disorders.

To find a Laughter Yoga class or training near you, visit Dr. Kataria’s website here.

If you live in the Wilmington, Delaware area, please subscribe to my blog to stay up to date about my classes and events.

And remember, when life throws you lemons, Don’t Give Up, get your Giggle On!



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Don’t Let Worry Kill Your Giggle

Are you suffering from Chronic Giggle Deficiency?

1.  Do you get wrapped up in worry, fear and anger?

2.  Do you find yourself wanting to scream, yell and throw things (plates, glasses or alarm clocks)?

3.  Do you feel like your emotional world is bitch-slapping you in the face and upside your head?

4.  Has stress threatened to kill your giggle?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, don’t fear, you are not alone. I answered “YES” to all four.  To remedy my situation I created my own prescription to release worry; one part nature, one part exercise and one part laughter.

Oh-vey, the pressure!

My friend “J” sweetly yet forcefully chastised me for neglecting my blog these past few weeks. She said, “What the hell is up with no new post since the 19th of June?”

When I started this web site a year ago, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I dove into the sea of possibility and didn’t bother to check the depth or the water temperature. I gotta be honest. Creating, running and managing a web site is a lot more work than I anticipated. Do I have enough creativity, energy and zest to keep going? Only time will tell.

On the advice of blogger friend, I decided to take a break from my blog for a few weeks for mental health reasons. I worry about my housing situation, the ups and downs of my love life, the economy, my business, world affairs (damn you North Korea), keeping up with my own blog, commitments I made for fund-raising and charity work and my inability to locate a purple whoopee cushion. If anyone sees a purple whoopee cushion, PLEASE alert me right away. *giggle*

Knowing I was at risk for a mental meltdown of major proportions (say that 3 times fast), I took a few steps back from the self-imposed pressure I’ve been placing on myself. I went underground (means: away from the computer, my web site and email) to save my sanity and resuscitate my giggle. It worked.

DeFrag Yourself and Press the RESET button

I walked away from my computer and went back to nature. I have been spending as much time outdoors as possible. Fresh air does me a world of good and helps me press my personal mental RESET button. Actually, being outside is more like running an emotional defrag and anti-virus test. Once those steps are complete, I mentally hit CTL ALT DEL and flow back into the giggle. It magic. Pure magic.

iStock_000000796969LargeIf you find yourself in a sea of stress (or just step your foot in a puddle of trouble) go outside, breathe some fresh air, lay down in the grass, take a long walk, paddle in your kayak, play golf, and use every opportunity to find relief in the Ha Ha Ha’s and Ho Ho Ho’s of laughter.

MORE RESET TIPS:

  1. Try Laughter Yoga
  2. Create your own Tips to Have Fun list. Only YOU know what you like. Only you know what makes you laugh and only you can prevent forest fires. *laughing*
  3. Watch Your Favorite Comedy Movie

Giggle On!

Christa

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My dog smells and my jeans shrunk

My little bundle of boxer joy had surgery last week to remove a nasty looking cyst that looked like a gargantuan sized red pimple.

Major yukky. I know!

A biopsy was done and our vet reported the cyst was a benign thingie called a hystiocytoma. No cancer was found. ~Whew!~

This was a huge relief to me since boxers are prone to cancer.

Set the worry aside

I’ve been in a state of confusion and worry for two weeks about her health. As I told you before, Rosie is my lifeline and my bestest buddy. She helped me through a serious rough patch in my life and the thought of losing her too early to a disease like cancer sent me into a depressed spiral for close to two weeks.

I am not proud of how I reacted to her medical malady (and frankly, I scared myself about how bummed I got) but I still honor my feelings. I am now ready to set aside the worry and get back to normalcy.

christa-and-rosie-28

Pre-surgery, B.T.S. aka “before the stink”

Smelly Dog, Smelly Dog, its not your fault

First off, Rosie hasn’t had a bath in a week. She reeks. The bandages on her leg are stinkin’, stankin and have stunken up the place. She’s doing her best doggie OCD impression as she licks, licks and licks the gauze bandages.

STOP THE MADNESS!

I know she likes licking but biting off the bandage is not an option. During the 4 minutes I left her unattended on Saturday she succeeding in removing half of the bandage but thankfully, didn’t rip out the stitches. In response to her renegade lick fest I taped and old sock to her leg.

So there!

Rosie, mid-lick, post-surgery, with sock

Leave It

I must have used the dog command “leave it” a hundred times this past week.

Last night as I slept I could here her slurping, pulling and licking. I now know what Chinese water torture must be like. I kept yelling “leave it“. I pleaded with her to “stop it” and barked “you’re killing me over here!” (in a quasi Jewish accent)

It was a classic Calgon, take me away moment.

I am positive my elderly neighbor heard me freaking out through the rice paper thin town home walls. I’m surprised no one from PETA showed up on my door step this morning.

Lesson learned: You cannot rationalize with a dog, even if you use an accent!

I feel bad for her

The poor thing hasn’t played all week. We haven’t taken our long walks. We haven’t had any run-run or jump-jump sessions. There’s been no playing or sniffing on other puppies.

Rosie doing her Jump Jump!

Rosie jumping for a stick, pre-surgery!

The Elizabethan cone doesn’t work. She kept getting out of it. Smart dog or stupid owner? I dunno. I even tried to coat the old sock on her leg with lemon juice hoping she would STOP LICKING.

It didn’t work. She seems to LOVE lemon juice. DOH!

Stir crazy

I’ve been with her almost 24/7 since the surgery date save a few hours Friday (I was so thankful to have the opportunity to shower and socialize with adults). I’ve been watching her every move like a hawk since last Tuesday. I am absolutely stir crazy.

Popping out of my Lucky Jeans

Aside from not being able to walk my normal 2 mile route each morning and 2 mile route each evening with Rosie, in the last few weeks I took up the old bad habit of stress eating. This mainly consisted of late night carb loading and wine drinking (I even drank wine at breakfast Saturday morning).

Let me also confess that I gobbled down my share of cookies, apple crisp (slathered with butter – thanks Lauren), chocolate covered espresso beans, Rice Krispy treats and some other corn syrup chocolate bar with a name I can’t recall (it was a little hard, but I committed to eat the whole thing anyway).

Jean shrinking gremlin

I’d like to think some stranger entered my house, washed my jeans on hot and dried them on high for two hours but I’ve been home the whole damn time. No jean shrinking gremlin entered my home. I gained weight. Oink, oink and major oinkness. Maybe my friend, ex-friend was right when she called me a pig? Um, nah!

Note:  I now feel pretty unlucky in my Lucky Brand jeans.

Rosie’s put on a few pounds too. I did what every Italian mother does when her child (insert dog) is limping and re-cooperating – I fed her too much.

  • Need a treat?
  • How about a bribe to stop licking?
  • How about an empathy peanut butter bone?

I cannot WAIT for the stitches to come out. Rosie and I are both cutting back on calories starting NOW and we’re going to be walking, running (her, not me) and working on reducing the flabbage we both gained this past week.

Oink Oink!

Christa and Rosie, signing off…

 

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