Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: they all make me laugh.
~ W.H. Auden
There is very little I enjoy more than a good laugh. In this regard, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. My late father had a sense of humour that was beautifully infectious. It was impossible for most in his presence to not feel as though they were being infused with a cathartic sense of silly joy, simply by being around him.
Making people laugh was his daily muse.
Surrounding myself with people who make me laugh – and who rarely shy away from the opportunity to be deftly amused – is one way for me to honour my father’s legacy. Another is to find the humour in everything.
Which leads me to this tongue-in-cheek, yet somewhat earnest, admission:
Yoga is really funny.
Let me tell you why: Because so many people take it way too seriously. And that’s just funny.
This innocuous art form sometimes carries the weight of the world on its shoulders, the burden only increased by the often stern and uncompromisingly sombre people who practice it.
For some, yoga is a four-letter word, only to be uttered by those stoic and fearless enough to bend the knee at the foot of the asana-throne and be “sworn” in.
My guess is that yoga doesn’t like that kind of pressure. It could use a good laugh; it sees itself as being healing and helpful, not serial-killer serious.
Furthermore, you are contorting your body into (sometimes R-rated) positions while you sweat profusely, often cursing the teacher under your breath, wondering if there’s enough water in all the five great lakes combined to efficiently hydrate you, and wishing your life was over.
How can we possibly not find that funny?
Yang yoga, such as hot yoga, Vinyasa and the myriad of other styles which embody the hard-work ethic, are innately difficult. It’s a tough workout, and if yoga is about balance, what’s the opposite of intensity? Why, levity of course.
So, why isn’t anyone laughing?
I know, I know. It’s hard work. Hard work isn’t funny. There’s no room for laughter.
Yes, there is.
It make sense that if you lighten up a bit while you work hard and perhaps even slyly focus on the ridiculousness of what you’re doing, the results will be that much more beneficial. It doesn’t have to be external. An internal smile can do wonders to conjure up the benefits of balance.
With humour in the mix, another redeeming and favourable quality will present itself: Perspective.
Life is hard, but it’s also hysterical. Yoga is no exception. Why, you’d have to be a fool to think otherwise. 😉
Illustration by Anna Starkova