Happy February! I hope this message finds you well.
After a quieter beginning of the year, I am excited that February brings a repeated opportunity for me to share some laughter with the nurses at Temple University Hospital at their Heart Failure Health Awareness event. This will be my third year supporting them and their community outreach program. No better way than through laughter!
I will also have a chance to introduce the numerous benefits of Laughter Yoga to a Rotary Club group. Many of the participants are business executives but also include retirees. Employee health is important as well as aging in place. I love that Laughter Yoga appeals to so many different types of groups and that there is growing interest.
A healthy heart is one that is not stressing out all the time. Work stress, traffic stress, family stress, tax stress or even the stress of being alone, especially during this month where everywhere you go, you see red hearts and Valentine’s Day promotions. We hear about people who live alone suffering with loneliness but also about people in groups feeling lonely. All the screens in our lives just draw us further away from personal contact and the art of communicating and connecting face to face.
And now Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching! Stress for those who have partners (the pressure of having to get the right card, gift, do the right thing) and what can be classified as, the awkwardness of not having a partner or longing for one. You may have lost someone you loved and are dreading this commercial holiday. I understand. Feelings of loneliness can be overwhelming. When you don’t have a partner to celebrate with, there’s a feeling of someone missing, a loss or lacking…
It doesn’t have to be that way though. There are others out there in similar situations. For years I didn’t have valentines. So what to do? I called my best friend, who was also alone. We went out and had a great time.
Look at it as an opportunity to celebrate yourself, what you stand for and what is important to you.
Call Valentine”s a Day for Loving/Appreciating yourself!
Celebrate being alive and focus on your heart health by doing something that sparks joy within you. You deserve it. Being in a relationship does not define who you are. You can be alone, thriving, independent and strong. Moments of solitude can be good for the soul.
Be generous with yourself. Write yourself an inspiring and loving card and highlight all the good stuff in your life. Treat yourself to a special massage or mani/pedicure. Take a little day trip somewhere. Pay attention to your needs and seek the balance that feels right for you.
Take a deep breath in and repeat these phrases to yourself:
May I be filled with lovingkindness
May I be held in loving kindness…
May I feel connected and calm…
May I accept myself just as I am…
May I be happy…
May I know the natural joy of being alive…
This is the first part of the very powerful LovingKindness Meditation.
Here is the full version: LovingKindness Meditation
If you are seeking company, call a friend/family member or someone you have been meaning to connect with, who would also welcome joining you for a fun outing.
When’s the last time you really laughed uproariously like you did when you were a little kid? Are you ready to reawaken that childhood feeling of when you used to feel more playful and free? Try out a local Laughter Yoga club!
Go out for a meal, go bowling, check out a Karaoke bar, meet at a museum, go for a walk, host a little cocktail party, turn up the music and dance! Just don’t sit there and feel sorry for yourself.
Meet up with an old friend you haven’t seen in ages. Check in on an older friend.
If you haven’t already tried Laughter Yoga, perhaps this is the time to experience its effects. Why?
“Beta Endorphins released from the Hypothalamus and Pituitary Gland will activate reception on the Endothelium of blood vessels to release NITRIC OXIDE which dilates the blood vessels, prevent platelet aggregation (prevent blood clots in the arteries) and also brings down inflammation in the arteries. This is how Laughter Yoga helps to bring down blood pressure and prevents heart attacks.” Dr. Michael Miller, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, Director of Preventive Cardiology at University of Maryland School of Medicine
And guess what? Dr. Michael Miller prescribes laughter to his patients every day!
Who can participate? If in doubt, as long as you are cleared by your doctor, are able to perform aerobic exercises and you have the willingness to laugh more, then you are all set.
You won’t need any special work out wear, not even a mat.You won’t be doing yoga poses. The Yoga in Laughter Yoga refers to the breathwork. Laughter Yoga exercises can be performed standing or seated.
Laughter Yoga combines:
1) laughter exercises (based on everyday situations)
2) deep yogic breathing exercises (a.k.a pranayama)
3) mindfulness meditation
Once you have been deep belly laughing (hello diaphragm!) for an extended period of time you will begin to feel the stress (reduced cortisol hormones) melt away. Laughter in a group promotes social connection, builds trust and encourages positive social interaction (increased serotonin and oxytocin levels).
Worried about feeling exposed, self conscious, inhibited with being asked to laugh with strangers? Don’t worry, your Laughter Coach will make you feel welcome and guide you through these exercises and within 10 minutes, those feelings will fade, as you begin to have fun and let go at the session. By the end of the meeting, you will feel so glad you tried it!
Ways to experience Laughter Yoga
1) Come try it out for FREE!
Find a local laughter club near you. https://laughteryoga.org/finder/find-club/
If you are in the Philly area, please check the meetup listings for my club meeting info.
2) Book a customized Laughter Yoga Session, presentation, workshop or retreat for
your group. I would be delighted to create one for you.
3) Train to become a certified Laughter Yoga Leader, CLYL (a 2-DAY training)
PA Social workers, National Activity Directors, Recreational Therapists and Yoga
instructors can gain 16 CEU credits for their participation.
Learn valuable self care skills, as well as a myriad of ways to help others with your
new knowledge and skills. Start a new career for yourself!
4) Find Laughter Yoga on Social Media.
There is no substitute for laughing face-to-face with another human being.
After all, the beauty and benefit of laughing with others, is the laughter energy
we create together by connecting through the laughter. This group interaction
is so powerful and uplifting. It is difficult to replicate this on a screen or phone.
However, when feeling the need for a laughter boost, I can recommend checking out
the Youtube videos, laughter phone calls, skype group laughter calls.
5) Join upcoming Philadelphia/Regional Laughter Yoga Events!
Tip: Avoid Valentine’s Day on Valentine’s Day!
So many times I have been disappointed by Valentine’s dinners out. They are highly overrated. Always hard to get a reservation at your favorite place. Same thing as going out on Mother’s Day. Restaurants are notoriously overwhelmed in the kitchen so you wait longer for the food and the waitstaff is similarly stressed and so the service is generally not very good. Restaurants tend to be noisy and crowded. I prefer not to have to shout across the table to communicate or place an order. Therefore, consider celebrating before or after the actual date. Still fun and much more enjoyable.
Happy February, soften your heart with laughter to reveal wondrous possibilities!