Laughter as Medicine: First-place winner, 'Wind of enlightenment'

Feb. 6, 2013 at 4:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 6, 2013 at 8:07 p.m.

Sam Bell

Sam Bell

The night before my first yoga class, I awoke in a sweat. I had a dream where I showed up to the class and everything went wrong.

I was wearing the wrong clothes, I hadn't brought a yoga mat, I fell over in all the poses, and the worst part, I belched in the middle of meditation.

After a moment of panic I was able to laugh.

I had found a website that explained what you needed for a beginner yoga class.

A quick trip to the local sporting goods store had resulted in a yoga mat (a very cute purple one with flowers), and an outfit consisting of a tank top and shorts.

It came as a surprise to me that yoga pants didn't seem to be a thing most people actually wore to classes.

I knew I didn't have to have perfect balance, and seriously, how bad could a burp in class be? I chuckled at my own silliness and went back to sleep.

The next afternoon, I went to the yoga studio.

I signed in and was relieved to meet the instructor.

She wasn't one of those pencil thin people I had seen online, in fact she was shaped about like me.

I felt better already. I took my shoes off, went into the workout room and rolled out my mat.

I had no idea what to do next, so when someone else came in looking just as lost as me, I said, "Hi."

She commented on my mat and said she had never been to a yoga class before. We chatted a little as the room filled with more students, some looked like they had done this before, but some looked as new to it as me.

The instructor walked to the front of the room and took her position on her mat.

We were asked to stand at the top of our mat with our hands at our sides, palms facing front.

This was mountain pose, we took a few deep breaths.

Next, we raised our arms overhead and as we released them we bent at the hips and stretched our hands to the ground, a forward fold.

Putting hands on our mats, we stepped our feet back and made our bodies into straight lines, plank.

We lowered our bodies to the ground and then used our arms to push up, arching our back, up dog.

Lifting hips we shifted our entire bodies into a sort of triangle shape she called downward facing dog.

As I lifted my hips, I felt a rumble in my stomach.

The instructor was walking around the room and assisting each person into the pose correctly. She came to me and complimented my form, but suggested I pull my stomach in.

As she put her hand near my navel, I pulled it in, and it happened.

Oh, to have had the belch of my nightmare, that might have been less horrible.

Instead, I farted.

Everyone heard it and I wanted to die.

But she said nothing and continued around the room. Next, we stepped our feet back up to where our hands were and stood up by rolling our spine one vertebra at a time.

We were in mountain pose again. The instructor told us to relax a minute.

"Now that we have cleared the air," she started, and I wanted to die again. "Bad choice of words," she corrected. "Sometimes as we work our way into poses it allows air to escape our bodies.

"This is natural, and perfectly OK. In fact, it would be much worse to hold it in and hinder the pose."

"Oh, thank God!" an older woman exclaimed as she let one rip that echoed through the room.

"Now that we have established our comfort level," the instructor began again, "Let's do some laughter breathing exercises."

The rest of that first class is a bit of a blur, but I definitely took away from that day that laughter can be the best medicine.

Or possibly the worst, I hurt so much the next day from those breathing exercises. But I continue to practice yoga, and sometimes I still fart while doing it.



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