Dana Kaplan: I first heard about Laughter Yoga during a weekend segment of my 200-hour Hatha Yoga Teacher Training in 2009. At the time, I was having a lot of lower back and hip pain from an old rollerblading accident. I got sick almost every other month, and had frequent sinus headaches. On the brighter side, I was also in a place of tremendous spiritual growth. I was beginning to put my trust in the Universe while letting go of fear and loosening my reigns of control. I was beginning to find true self-acceptance despite my self-limiting beliefs for the first time in my life. And, I was well on my way to speaking my truths, no matter what. When my yoga teacher introduced us to a little Laughter Yoga during that weekend, my immediate response was, “I Want This In My Life!!!”
I instantly felt how laughter was a huge help in letting go of judgment of myself and of others. Laughing out loud was beautifully freeing for my voice and creative self-expression…I love to sing! When I was laughing, I couldn’t even pretend to have control over anything, except for maybe my positive attitude.
As soon as I saw that my yoga teacher was offering the CLYL training, I signed up right away. Upon completing the Laughter Yoga Leader training, I went to my local community center to start a Laughter Club with the seniors. It’s been 3 years since October of 2010 that I’ve been leading the Laughing 39’ers of Maitland, FL, and we have grown together in numbers and in spirit.
I have seen some pretty remarkable transformations happen for many of the 39’ers. One 84 year-old woman, Florence, had bad asthma. Through laughing regularly, she reports that her asthma symptoms have been greatly reduced! An 87 year-old man, Jim, had such terrible arthritis throughout his whole body; he could barely open his eyes and mouth. His diaphragm was so stiff and locked, he couldn’t even laugh. After coming to class for several months, Jim’s face began to loosen. His eyes lit up, his lips parted and curled up into a smile and laughter started to flow louder and louder from his belly! He even became a “laughter blaster” in our group! He also said that Laughter Club day was his favorite day of the week because his bodily pains were greatly reduced.
As for me, I continue to lead Laughter Clubs, and have now added Laughing Alone to my morning routine. I connect easily to my inner playfulness and joy. I laugh all the time and my lower back and hip pain are so much better. I get sick much less often, and my sinus headaches are all but gone. Even more amazing than that, is that I am pretty OK with myself, just the way I am, most all of the time. I continue grow in my faith and let go of fear & control; and my voice is so much freer to say what I need to say and to sing like the lark I was meant to be. I still have plenty of difficult challenges in my life, but I go through them with much more ease than I ever imagined possible.