As you walk into yoga class, your instructor asks you to put away your mat. Instead, she asks you to hold an imaginary key between your fingers.
“Take your laughter key and put it in your laughter ignition,” she says as she motions toward her bellybutton, twists her fingertips and makes a loud brup-brup-brup.
You proceed to “drive” your jovial self around the room with 30 other people and force out laughter whenever the instructor calls out “red light.” Next you snicker into your imaginary phone, followed by chortling through a make-believe shower.
Sounds awkward, no? I can still feel the tension, the apprehension before starting the hourlong series of “laughter exercises” that required me to chuckle and snort my way through many ridiculous scenarios—all while making direct eye contact with the various strangers around me.
With all the resistance I built up beforehand, I was surprised by how genuinely happy I felt when leaving the session. Part of that came from the class being over, but I didn’t feel like the same person who walked into the session. The world was lighter.
After a little bit of post-research, I learned that laughter can change the chemical makeup of your body by releasing endorphins and squashing stress-inducing hormones. I even stumbled upon a local laughter club that meets solely to reap the benefits of an extended giggle-fit.
While you won’t hear me howling with the pack again anytime soon, laughter yoga taught me a lot about letting go of situations that typically would bother me. Especially in the workplace, it’s easy to succumb to the stresses of demands and deadlines.
Instead, I try laughing. Let it roll off my back.
Most times, it’s not that serious.