The other day I got to experiment with laughing yoga. What it boiled down to was that for two minutes, Lorien, Kyczy and I lay on the floor and laughed. Lorien had us imagine a room of people we loved, a place where we felt safe, and the kind of laughter you feel when you love everyone around you (sorry, Lorien, I know this isn’t exactly what you said but it’s so fun and easy to make stuff up), and then Lorien started laughing. I’ll tell you something: Lorien has been my yoga teacher for a long time, and her laugh has changed since she started these laughing yoga shenanigans. Her laughter peals. Truly. It’s like a series of bells. And it makes you want to laugh, too. So there we went, Lorien, Kyzcy, and I, three laughing goons lying prone with our toes and noses pointed to the air.
I thought about the time at the Cape with Erin Sugrue when we were in church and laughing so hard we had to roll out the window into the bushes. I thought about the time I was a little kid and my dad fell when we were skating. I thought about the time in graduate school when Jody Proctor and I secretly put blood capsules in our mouths during a writing workshop and let the red dye drip down our faces onto the papers because we were bored and desperate for surprise.
Laughing for two minutes when you are fully stretched out engages a lot of muscles. If I had been doing this exercise alone at home I would have stopped for a snack and a drink of water, but Lorien had us on a timer. Kyczy was laughing; Lorien was laughing, so I just kept laughing even though I could feel the strings of my psoas threatening to cramp. I kept laughing because the other women were laughing and it was the middle of the day on a Friday and many people were at work and this was my life.
When the timer dinged, we did a few breathing exercises to seal in the practice and then Lorien had us count our breaths for a minute again. At the start I’d been breathing ten times per minute. Now I was down to 4.5. Breathing after laughing for two minutes feels incredible. You know when you get a brand new balloon and it’s stuck to itself and it only unsticks after you’ve blown air into it? That’s what breathing after laughing felt like: I was an unstuck balloon and the air went in all the way to the base of my pelvic floor. There was so much space inside of me! It’s hard to feel agitated or anxious when you are so busy marveling at how sweet it is to breath all the way into the base of yourself. I was my own new toy.
I’m still playing around.
It’s so fun.