Frances Beldia, Cure for Mondays
I truly believe that laughter is the best medicine. For one, I think it may have been the only thing that kept me sane — alive even — during the stormiest weathers in my life. Never mind that I did not get my mother’s milky skin which I think has a lot to do with her Chinese lineage and the result of years of bathing with a lot of coconut oil; or my elder sister’s share of admirable endowments in all the right places of her body. I believe I took on my father’s equable merry-andrew disposition with an inherent tendency to make fun of myself and even some of the hard-hitting tragedies in life. He would naturally draw people toward him because his humor could brighten up stiff corners in any room, let alone a stentorian voice that was difficult to ignore. For 26 years of my life, I lived in the house of a man who did not rely on scripts to bring episodic laughter under his roof. Laughing was a disease at home that my oft-downbeat mother tried to cure but failed.
© Amee Butterworth and Honeydew Photography
In the eulogy I read during my father’s interment six years ago, I could not help but briefly relive his life as a man who made people laugh, and who had an incessant hankering for life’s happy episodes. It was so brief as a matter of fact, that all I asked was for everyone present in the church to remember the laughter that he brought to their lives and that I said with a smile. When I got back to my seat, a cousin whispered, “I thought a eulogy was supposed to be sad.”
Leave the yoga mat at home
When I first heard about Laughter Yoga, I thought it was a joke. When I found out a Laughter Yogini was actually coming to do a session at the office where I used to work, I almost made an exit through the fire escape. I don’t and can’t laugh on cue. “It takes so little to tickle my funny bone, so no, thank you.” I politely told our librarian. But my obstinacy had no power over a sweet, limping octogenarian who brought me German muffins that morning. I was practically dragged and squished between her and a Herculean officemate.
The yogini was in his jeans and a gray cotton shirt which I found less intimidating than one who’d be clad in tight clothes I myself would never fit in. It was at this point when I realized it wouldn’t kill me to try something new. I did start to warm up a bit a few minutes into the session. The chanting allowed me to release the tension that built up on my back caused by months of spending hours on the computer everyday and not remembering to stand up and do even just a few seconds of stretching.
One of the first and the most essential things you need to learn when you do yoga is proper breathing. You may not be aware of it but minding how you breathe makes a huge impact on your physical and mental health. When everyone in the room was relaxed, yogini Paolo Trinidad taught us a few basic Laughter Yoga exercises. A beautiful chaos then unraveled.
Hello Laughter – Replace “hello” with laughter and greet everyone around you this way. Shake hands, wave to everyone with laughter. It’s funny, disarming and apparently good for your body!
Gradient Laughter – Start with a smile, giggle a bit, then do it some more until you laugh, then laugh harder until you are laughing like you have just heard the funniest joke.
Hearty Laughter – Remember a time in your life when you found something so funny and just could not hold yourself that you raise both your arms up as if you’re welcoming something from the sky? Now that’s a hearty laugh and that’s good for you.
Laughing Pug Laugh – Bring your face to a frown then slowly release until you’re eyes and mouth are wide open, then let out a loud laugh.
Laughing in Vowels – Laugh along with each vowel. Begin with A-hahaha! Then E-hihihi! And so on. By the time you reach the last vowel you’ll be giddy and then you’d have achieved the purpose of the exercise.
Why a tickle tonic is good for you
Stress is an everyday reality and since it is inevitable, there should be a way to save you from it and its detrimental effects to your emotional, physical and mental well-being. What’s a better way than to remedy your woes with laughter? The benefits of Laughter Yoga cover pretty much all aspects of your life:
- It resembles a cardio exercise because laughing brings in a lot of oxygen to your body so you feel revived and generally in a good mood after. It’s so far the easiest and the cheapest way to beat stress.
- It is the best friend of your immune system. It’s been proven to alleviate common ailments like diabetes, hypertension, asthma, among many others.
- It improves your mood because Laughter Yoga releases endorphins from your brains and will put you in a good mood for a longer time. Being in a good mood allows you to perform better in life.
- It will improve your quality of life because laughter helps in creating bonds between people, and the happier you are, the more people you will attract.
- No one laughs when it’s a bad time. But that is what Laughter Yoga is about. It helps you release tension through laughing techniques that will alter your mood once the endorphins are released in your body.
Now I can’t think of anyone who would refuse Laughter Yoga. If it’s good for the health, and if it feels good doing it, that’s every reason to share a good laugh.