Pats and I had started going to yoga classes earlier on this year. The lady who teaches is called Julie and is such a lovely lady. From just the few yoga classes that we’d been to I’d really warmed to her personality. She is a really vibrant character (but not in an over the top way), full of the joys of life and has lots of energy, enthusiasm and positivity.
I love my job and am continually challenged which means there’s never a dull moment, but the flip side of that is it can also be really quite stressful. I often work to short timescale/multiple deadlines that can include working late in the evenings and at weekends which often leaves me feeling frazzled. Julie always speaks of positivity, kindness, gratitude and peace in her classes and I’d always left there feeling more relaxed and revived in both body and in mind.
She had previously talked about a laughter yoga class that she also takes. I had been quite curious about this, but so far hadn’t made it to one of the sessions. I received an email in my in-box about a session that she was holding that coming Saturday and I thought – sod it I’m going to give this a go!
In the week prior to this session I’d emailed Julie to say we wouldn’t be at the usual yoga class that Thursday and also explained what was going on with me. She suggested I read a book by Dr David Hamilton called How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body. She said she’d had one-to-one coaching with David and recommended I try a visualisation/relaxation session with her that she said would help.
The laughter yoga class itself was held at a workshop in the back of a spiritual type shop that sold crystals, angel cards and lots of Native American wears. A circle of chairs were formed and quite a few ladies were sat together chatting – some seemed to know each other already. I sat on my chair and smiled shyly at anyone who caught my eye.
Julie started off with a couple of games to get us up onto our feet, swapping seats with each other to get the energy levels up in the room. After we’d all swapped seats and were sat in a different one to the one we’d started, she asked us to start chatting to the person on our left about the things we love to find something in common with each other. I was sat next to a much older lady, and felt a bit silly to start with, but then somehow we got onto the subject of Malaysia. She told me she used to live there with her husband and her two children were born there. I said my Dad had lived there as a young boy and also Pats and I had visited there on our travels around the world.
Julie then went on to explain the benefits of laughter yoga in that it increases the oxygen into your body and provides a good massage to all internal organs. It is scientifically proven that laughter yoga does you good and apparently cardiac departments in hospitals use it for their patients. It releases a rush of stress-busting endorphins to instantly boost your mood and activates the body’s natural relaxation response. She said that even just changing your facial expression from a frown or glum look to a smile changes your mood. It’s hard to believe?! Try it now. How do you feel?!
We got into some other exercises that involved interacting with each other and pulling faces and laughing in certain ways. I was massively out of my comfort zone and felt really self conscious, however I was open to it and found it amusing doing these random things with people I’d never met before. My eyes had started watering a little from chuckling in some of the silly exercises, but as we got into one exercise all of a sudden I could feel tears beginning to well up. Oh no, not here in front of all these strangers. This was supposed to be funny I thought to myself but I felt quite weepy, a bit silly and rather vulnerable and exposed.
Julie, had been keeping a kind and watchful eye on me during that session, helping engage me in the activities, and had spotted my tears beginning to fall. ‘Take yourself off for a few minutes Allie and get some water’, she quietly said. I made my way rather embarrassingly through the class and went to a quiet room at the back and sobbed. A few minutes later a really nice woman, who was also called Allison, came out the back and gave me some water and checked that I was ok. How lovely I thought to myself, she didn’t have to do that. After a few more minutes I’d managed to compose myself and re-joined the class with a kind and loving nod from Julie.
I carried on with the remainder of the session which culminated in us all laying on the floor laughing together non-stop for five minutes. Some people will think this is utterly bonkers, I must admit it did feel slightly odd at first! But I laughed and laughed and the more I laughed at the fact that I was lying here on the floor with complete strangers who were also genuinely laughing, I laughed even more! I had to keep wiping away the tears that were streaming out of the side of my eyes – these weren’t sad tears though! Some people experimented with different kind of laughs which made others laugh more – it was very infectious and felt like a huge release. At the end of the class I managed to catch Julie for a quick chat before heading off. She said it was good that I’d had a cry as I obviously needed to release my pent-up emotions. She also said she had something good planned for the visualisation session that coming Tuesday. Click here to read more about Julie and her laughter yoga.