Ohm, ohhhmmmmm, ohhhmmmmm. As the class sang out this ancient mantra, she found it hard not to think. And the teacher had just been telling her to look at the thought and then let it go. Hard to let that one go! What on earth am I doing here chanting Ohm (Aum, Om) like I’m part of some religious cult!
Sure, you can think if you like, and laugh if you have to. Just because you’re looking inwards, it doesn’t mean that your humour will leave you. Laughter, after all, is an emotional release. Which makes laughter therapy popular. Picture yourself standing in a yoga class for laughter mediation, feeling it’s impossible to force a laugh. Until you find yourself really laughing at how ridiculous the teacher looks, or fellow participants or yourself for joining in! Simply starting the action of laughing brings on the laughter. Check out this dude, especially his ‘soundless’ laughter to crack at least a smile.
This is the way to go with Laughter Yoga (Hasyayoga), which harnesses self-triggered laughter on a physical plane and doesn’t necessarily rely on ‘humour’ to set it off.
So let’s define humour. Part of the definition on Wikipedia goes: “Many theories exist about what humour is and what social function it serves. The prevailing types of theories attempting to account for the existence of humour include psychological theories, the vast majority of which consider humour-induced behaviour to be very healthy; spiritual theories, which may consider humour to be a “gift from God”; and theories which consider humour to be an unexplainable mystery, very much like a mystical experience.” For me, it’s all about timing. And not just the element of comic timing, catching the subconscious unaware and nailing the renegade thought in resonance. As a child I recall laughing at exactly the times when silence and respect was called for, often in church or during some pin-drop ceremony where a certain decorum was called for. In yoga class, awareness is called for, not a forced way of being.
So yes, it is definitely fine to laugh if that comes up. Try not to make too much noise though as this might disturb your fellow students. Crying is also okay.
Crying in yoga class is okay
Teachers, however, should beware of comforting the student when they cry as this can cause their ‘painbody‘–a term used by spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle to describe an energy entity consisting of old emotion–to rise up and double in size. Let them release in peace.
Students may experience people who cry in class as annoying, or disturbing. Some yoga schools almost seem to ‘reward’ crying, as if touching deep emotional depths that trigger sobbing or outbursts of anger is desirable. Signalling that if you can plumb the depths of your being, undulating through levels of the astral body to release old memories and associated feelings like gas from an uncorked bottle, you are more ‘developed’ spiritually. But who are we to judge…?
Breathe deeply (through your nose). Remember, not everyone is the same, there is no one way that is ‘right’. Your spiritual journey is your own, and whatever you experience along the way, it is the way it is. Let it be.
Remind yourself of the most important thing in yoga class: Keep breathing.
- If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him! The Pilgrimage of Psychotherapy Patients by Sheldon B. Kopp
- The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
- Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles” by Marianne Williamson