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home : readerswrite : laughingmatters November 21, 2017

Laughter? Yes, please!
" When you soak in those sights and sounds, and join in virtually and vicariously, happiness and health abound. It feels good to smile and laugh."
- Mary Margaret Anderson

by Mary Margaret Anderson

Come with me, will you? Take a deep breath. Deeper. Slowly let it out with a smile. Now picture and feel these local scenes. Keep the smile on your face.

A loving couple leaning in and giggling conspiratorially over a private anecdote in a romantic, dimly lit Lucia's Cafe. Loud guffaws wafting across the fellowship hall as attendees meet and greet after a lively Westminster Town Hall Forum. Alone in your car with MPR, grinning and chuckling with Garrison Keillor and Prairie Home Companion. Two sporty women, arms linked, strolling around Lake Harriet, passing by the little gnome house on the south side, heads back letting out gleeful peals of knowing laughter. A covey of fresh-faced teens in Red Wing boots and Foat yoga pants, gathered around a table at a coffeeshop texting, laughing, sharing.

When you soak in those sights and sounds, and join in virtually and vicariously, happiness and health abound. It feels good to smile and laugh.

Everyone wants to be happy. We don't even have to Google it or instigate complicated studies to prove it. So, what is the formula? How do YOU create and participate in and benefit from these lovely scenes of serenity, happiness and peace?

One way to cultivate your happiness is through laughter. Hearing it. Doing it. Enjoying it. Pursuing it. Enter Laughter Yoga. Created in the late 90's by Dr. Madan Kataria in India, Laughter Yoga uses laughing to create, cultivate, groom and simply BE more happy.

Although there is some dissension in the yoga biz (and in my own 10 years of experience) the thought is that through laughter and smiling, your body, mind and spirit think you are happy. Endorphins and dopamine pour in and ... Voila! .... you feel better. Blood pressure is lowered. All the natural fluids of your body become vibrant. You are easier to be around.

Then comes the master good-mood producer, Ms. Parasympathetic nervous system (aka Stay and Play). Staying and playing is much more sustainable than the necessary oft over-used evils of fighting, flighting or freezing. The trick is to steer your nervous system. For example, through onlooking and feeling these scenes in the first paragraph. Invoking them into yourself.


Dr. Kataria trains his instructors to use eye contact (looking at a laugher is contagious), child-like playfulness (clapping and cheering), and deep breaths and laughter exercises (simply fake laughing doing silly everyday things) to invoke your own laughter. Smile, stay and play.

In the end, Laughter Yoga opportunities occur almost continuously, my friends. Take it all in. Enjoy. And get good at saying, "I am not laughing at you. I am laughing because I am happy."

Mary Margaret Anderson has been a Laughter Yoga teacher for 10+ years and teaches classes at Yoga MN in Plymouth. www.yogamn.com

LAUGHINGMATTERS: YOU BET IT DOES! WHO SAID FEMINISTS CAN'T BE FUNNY? 450 WORDS MAXIMUM. Email your personal essay to editor@womenspress.com or to see complete guidelines for reader submissions go to www.womenspress.com and click on "About us."

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