Did you know that children laugh at least 100 times a day but adults on average only 8 times per day? That is nothing to laugh at. If you are saying to yourself, well I can't quite make it to a comedy club mid-week, can I? Or I am not quite finding life so fun or funny at this moment. Well, I am here on my podium to tell you that it is accessible AND this is the time you may need laughter's benefits. Scroll down to The Inspiration section for a video that may make you giggle and more on Laughter and a practice called Laughter Yoga.
1:1 Breath or Equal Breath
Find a comfortable seated position or laying down. Focus in on your breath, becoming aware of its pattern before beginning this breath. Make a conscious effort to inhale and exhale for the same count (2 to 3). Find a calm, steady awareness of the breath, the feel, the temperature, the way it enters and exits the body. Practice this breath anywhere. Continue this for 2 to 3 minutes.
Legs up the Wall (Vaparita Karani)
Props: 1-2 blankets, strap, eye pillow, blanket for warmth, neck roll, a bolster for behind legs
Benefits: increases circulation and helps venous and lymphatic flow from the lower body; relieves swelling and fatigue in the legs; helps relieve muscular skeletal stress in pelvis; quiets the mind and can help promote ease in meditation and sleep.
Begin with using a double-folded blanket to be placed right above sacrum (see photo), setting it approx. distance 6-8" from wall (adjust in pose). Sit down on the blanket with one hip pressed right up against the wall. As you lower down, swing your legs up the wall. Once in the pose, you can adjust distance to wall, angle of legs to all, blanket and placement of legs all for comfort. Hips and tailbone will be in space between wall and blanket. Arms rest by your side, palms face up or variation with Goddess arms (photo above).
Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Baddhakonasana)
Variations: To ground legs, blanket or sandbag to hang from soles of the feet. Strap can be placed around calves, so you lose the feeling of holding up legs. Tight hamstrings or really uncomfortable with legs directly up the wall? Try a bolster angled into the wall to rest legs on, add blankets for more support or move hips further from wall. Another variation is Legs up on a Chair or on a bolster with blankets on top to bring knees into a 90 degree angle.
Benefits: opens the hips and groin facilitating blood and energy flow to the urinary tract and reproductive organs. Opens the chest and abdomen benefiting breathing problems.
Props: bolster, 4 blocks (or firm cushions, pillows or rolled-up blankets), 4 blankets and one extra blanket for warmth, strap and eye pillow
Place a block lengthwise under one end of a bolster to prop it up on an incline, add another block under bolster for stability. We used the wall in this week's class placing the bolster at a higher elevation. Place a double-fold blanket on floor next to low end of bolster and a long rolled blanket on top next to bolster (for sacral support). Sit with your back to the short, low end of the bolster. Place two blocks where your knees will rest (can top with a soft blanket or use other props as necessary for propping knees) Bring your legs into Bound Angle Pose with the soles of your feet together. Wrap a blanket around your feet to create a feeling of containment. Lie back on the bolster. Place supports under your arms so that they are not dangling and there is no feeling of stretch in the chest. Stay in the pose for 10 to 15 minutes.
Laughter - Fake It Until You Make It
This is an awesome way to spend an hour of your day. Playfulness intermingling with health benefits galore. Some of the health/social benefits of laughter are:
There are thousands of Laughter Clubs in over 65 countries. The beginnings of Laughter Yoga (LY) were humble indeed. Dr. Madan Kataria, a general practitioner M.D. in India, had been researching laughter as medicine and thought to begin a laughter group at a local park. What began as a group of 5 quickly spread. His initial formula for laughter was based upon conditional laughter which is using humor to elicit laughs (jokes, funny stories). This only worked for so long and he needed to revamp the program. He found that pretend laughter gives the same benefits as real laughter. He created from this discovery, laughter exercises that are still used today. This type of laughter is unconditional laughter which really comes up like a fountain of bubbles within yourself. He included Pranayama or yogic breath practicies in the laughter sessions so that there would be a full range of oxygen intake elimination of wastes.
- lowers blood pressure
- increases blood circulation giving skin a boost, cleaning out toxins
- stronger immune system
- can aid in slowing down progression of disease
- cardiovascular (aerobic) and core workout
- creating stronger social connections
- happier moods, less empathy and more compassion
- lowers stress levels
Laughter exercises are combined with yogic breathing ending with a guided relaxation to balance out the nervous system, regulate the heart and ease back into your day. After one of these sessions, one may feel like they've flushed out their systems and are energetically ready for whatever comes their way.
Keep on the lookout for Laughter Yoga Clubs which are springing up all over the area. Many of the clubs go through the Meetup.com website. Check out some of the links below for more info. Mo-laughing!
Meetup Laughter Yoga Club in Ambler
Labels: Equal Breath, Laughter Yoga, Legs Up the Wall, Reclined Bound Angle