Last Friday, I posted this message on Facebook and Twitter:

I’m getting my semi-annual “I’m losing control of my life” panicky feeling where a million things happen at once & I start to withdrawal šŸ˜¦

Now, realistically, things aren’t that out of control. I have friends who are doing a ton more than me or who are going through some huge life issues, and I should just be counting my blessings that I’m not in grad school or caring for an insomniac toddler or having to approach HR about taking family medical leave (all real-life instances among my circle of friends). For the most part, the panic is just all in my head, and I’m letting stupid things get to me. I’m sweating the small stuff.

That’s why when I found out that Laughter Yoga leader Bob Pileggi was coming to town again, I knew I had to attend his class. I took one of his classes back in October, and the effects were immediate. It’s no secret that taking in more oxygen makes you feel good, and that’s the whole point of Laughter Yoga: to loosen up, open the lungs, work the diaphragm, and BREATHE! Suck in the air, let it out, and feel the ripple effects of all those sweet inhalations and exhalations. Everyone’s heard of a runner’s high, and it’s not that far off from the feeling one gets after Laughter Yoga. You get that same oxygen-induced buzz–almost a giddiness–minus the disgusting sweat and painful shinsplints.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about the class this time around; most of the exercises and my reaction to them are described here.

This particular class, however, had significantly more people, which certainly added to the experience. There were more eyes to connect with, more bellies to watch shaking. I even joked that one man had to have been the paid “decoy” because he was just so committed to the practice, his eyes twinkling, his laugh so hearty that every time I heard it I couldn’t help but double over myself.

We closed class by lying on our backs, our legs propped up comfortably on several folded yoga blankets, with just one instruction from Bob: “When I say ‘start,’ begin laughing and don’t stop until I say so.” What usually happens is that the first few seconds are a bit forced, simply a physical practice of vocalizing and pumping the belly. Then comes that tipping point, the moment at which something–usually someone’s cute little giggle or a bowl-full-of-jelly Santa Claus rumble–just sets everyone off, and the scale tips toward the truly authentic, gut-busting laughter. And I don’t mean a texting “LOL,” I’m talking about LOLFR–laughing out loud fer realz. Head thrown back/back arched/eyes crinkled laughing, the kind you get when it’s late at night, you’re a bit slap-happy, and you and a friend decide to apply Transformers tattoos on each other:

Bob always starts class by asking us to check in with our bodies and mind, to list on a scale of 0 to 10 how present and open we feel. I came into class as a 3 and just an hour and 15 minutes later was boosted to an 8. To tell you the truth, I’m always pretty resistant at the start of any kind of class, but I kind of see these endeavors as “therapy,” and know that by the end I will usually feel a million bucks better. Actually, even just a few minutes into class–after some simple deep-breathing exercises and a bit of meditation–I was already shedding my armor.

I used the lessons from the class later in the evening, when I was forced to park blocks away from the take-out restaurant where I was picking up my dinner. The walk I didn’t mind; it was the frigid wind chill that initially had me shouting expletives in the wind. I tried trading a f*** for a chuckle, and you know what? It made me feel better. Not warmer or less windblown, but just a little better.

Ever think of just laughing off a particularly annoying situation?

I could probably do this every morning on my drive to work, when I’m almost always stuck behind a slow-moving school bus/garbage truck/oil tanker.