Laughter is the Best Medicine

This quote was probably spun off of Harry Ward Beecher’s “Mirth is God’s best medicine.” Regardless of the source, this expression bears tremendous truth. Among the gifts from many of you during my health crisis over the past year and especially last winter were the cheerful emails, greeting cards, and visits that made me laugh. Laughter, stemming from the love you all shared, buoyed my spirits and contributed to my recovery so that I could return to teaching yoga to all of you. What a rough winter, between the painful ailment, surgery and immediate post-op period! The difficulty was ameliorated by your generosity, compassion and ability to evoke my laughter. Your presence via all the get-well wishes continue to evoke my gratitude.

Have you ever expressed gratitude for your sense of humor and ability to laugh? My grandmother taught me not to take life too seriously. My Buddhist meditation training reinforces my grandmother’s lesson time and again: to laugh at yourself, life, and the whole universe with love and appreciation.IMG-20130404-00171

“Flexibility and a sense of humor,” one of my physical therapy professors cited as the two most vital characteristics we would need to get through the rigors of graduate school. While discrimination against my hearing loss forced me to withdraw from the Doctor of Physical Therapy program seven months prior to anticipated graduation, I’ve taken this advice to heart and set my intention daily to share both with you on and off the yoga mat.

It is no joke that laughter is the best medicine to cure all that ails body, heart and soul: clinical studies verify the benefits of a hearty laugh to relieve stress, boost cardiovascular health and strengthen our immune system.

Early spring arrived with many holidays, including my favorite: April Fool’s Day. Whether you fell for my blatherasana prank, remember that both on and off the mat, a sense of humor is vital. One of my teachers, Susan “Lip” Orem, inspired me in my early teaching years to incorporate humor as a vital element of yoga classes and private sessions. (Check out her Tues/Thu 6pm intermediate yoga class at Yoga Works, 158 5th Ave between 18th & 19th Sts, next time you’re in NYC!)

Whether you’re tickled by the annual clucking Cadbury Egg bunny TV commercial, the satirical news about suing Punxsutawney Phil for predicting an early spring, or playing April Fool’s pranks, notice how your heart softens when you laugh. Observe the chain reaction triggered by laughing. Your heart opens. Your soul warms up. Your body softens around the edges. Tension melts away. Your face relaxes. Your mood improves.

Charlie Chaplin famously declared, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

Enjoy a hearty laugh today, both on and off the mat!

© 2013 Amy Dara Hochberg. All rights reserved.