Sunday, June 14, 2009

Breathe Correctly

In Laughter Yoga as in life, it’s important to breathe correctly.

Breathing correctly means two things: breathing through your nose and breathing from your diaphragm.

When you breath through your nose, the air if filtered, moistened and warmed. When you breath through your mouth, the air is dirty, dry and cold. We were designed to breath through our nose. If you’re not talking, eating, laughing or singing, your mouth should be shut.

When you breath from your diaphragm (located below the lungs and heart), your abdomen will move. As you inhale your abdomen will expand, blowing up like a balloon. As you exhale, your abdomen will deflate.

If you’re breathing incorrectly you’re probably hyperventilating, which simply means taking in too much oxygen by breathing too much and too fast. Most people in our society are hyperventilating without knowing it.

If you are breathing through your mouth, you are automatically breathing too much, because your mouth is three times bigger than your nose.

If you are breathing from your upper chest (as most adults are), you are automatically breathing too fast, as it takes less time to move air in and out of your chest. Breathing from your diaphragm automatically slows your breathing down.

In summary, if you’re hyperventilating already and then come to do laughter yoga, you could run into trouble getting light-headed, i.e. hyperventilating even more. When we laugh our breathing speeds up which is generally a great thing because it oxygenates the body. But if you’re already taking in too much oxygen, it can tip the oxygen/carbon dioxide ratio off balance. For me this started to happen, after many years of leading laughter yoga sessions. I learned that I had been breathing incorrectly forever, i.e. I had chronic hyperventilation. I have since corrected that problem through proper breathing and have been able to enjoy all the great benefits of laughter yoga again.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Earth Laughs in Flowers

A large compact and perfectly round bud sits atop its leafy stem on this year’s peony. It’s the grandest plant in my garden this summer and it’s just about to burst open. You can feel it coming.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “The Earth laughs in flowers.” I can see why. The burst of exuberance is just the same. It’s the culmination of all our positive energy exploding in a forceful eruption. Just as the plant’s energy culminates in its production of a flower.

I’m an avid gardener. Perennials are my favorite. They come back year after year, growing larger and stronger and more magnificent each repeated spring, summer and fall. Annuals are fine to scatter here and there for added color and interest, but the perennials are my constant companions.

Each year as they bloom I see a correlation between our bursts of joy and theirs. We blossom when we laugh. It’s an explosion of joy. It’s power is undeniable. It can instantly clear a space of negative energy - sorrow, anger and stress. It’s the same when you place a bouquet of gorgeous flowers in a room. They light up the space and everyone’s mood along with it. They are healing and beautiful. Just as we are when we laugh.

Peak experiences aren’t the norm. They are those special moments that make life worthwhile. Like a plant when it finally makes its flower. Like us when we burst into joyful laughter.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Smiling Cars

The cars are smiling in Hawaii.

The electric cars in Hawaii toot down the streets with a smile on their faces.

During my one-week stay on Maui I spotted two of them. They look like glorified golf carts. They’re all electric, and like many of the public buildings in Hawaii, they’re mostly open to the warm tropical air with little bodywork on the sides besides structural bars. They seem to carry an ever present water bottle perched between the two front seats. Most distinguishing, the front grill has a definitive smile pattern to it, a large deep smile with headlights for eyes.

My online search on this subject tells me that Hawaii is the first state in the US to create a transport infrastructure that will allow cars to run almost entirely on electricity, involving 100,000 charging stations by the year 2012.

I found Hawaii to be a very magical place. Special things, great and small, happened to me while I was there. The sounds of tropical birds filled the air; a school of small sharks swam in the water off our local beach; we had a close encounter with a family of humpback whales; we attended a five-course luau with music, dancing and food from four different cultures of the South Pacific; we spotted 2 rare red palm trees (the stalks were solid red).

The smiling cars were a perfect added treat.