Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Laughter, the Best Medicine?

Happy Wednesday!

We had a busy weekend last weekend.  Still recovering!

On Saturday, I sold my Catholic books at a women's conference.  I sold some great books.  I also heard some good speakers.

And then there was the 'Laughter Yoga" lady.  Yikes.

It was a Catholic Conference.  Yoga is considered 'New Age' and Catholics are not to dabble in any New Age activities.

Laughter Yoga is a form of Yoga (hasyayoga) in which the practitioner induces laughter in himself, not necessarily at the stimulus of humour.

The effect of being in a room full of people forcing themselves to laugh (under the tutelage of a certified teacher) was rather creepy.  It reminded me of those scenes in some old movies were a person is having a dream sequence or a memory where a group of people is pointing at the dreamer and laughing.

It claims to have many health benefits.  It can reduce high blood pressure, relieve stress, improve diabetes, reduces depression, increases oxygenation of the blood, releases endorphins...

As Catholics, we are to give pride of place to Gregorian Chant during liturgy.  We can chant at home, too.
Guess what?  Health benefits will ensue...lower stress, increased oxygen in the blood, increased muscle tone, reduced depression...and we're praying at the same time!

I hope it was ignorance, and not will, that had someone invite a yoga practitioner to a Catholic women's conference.  Why would someone assume they had to look elsewhere for health benefits.

It annoys me that something as basic as laughter could be associated with spiritual practices.  It's a bit like what's happened to rainbows.


Laura O said...


The parish we belonged to in Maryland held Christian yoga classes during the year. I've used yoga for stretches and building muscle stretches in the past. Never did I go off into the 'meditation' component. Supposedly, that is what the class they offered was supposed to be doing ~ using poses for physical benefits and adding prayers atop.

As for finding it at a Catholic conference, I can't say I'm shocked. There's a much more cafeteria approach in the church (at least in the US) for most members that it's easy to lose ones way. How many still think following your conscious is all that needs doing when making decisions? And, it isn't just the laity taking that approach to life....

JP said...

Hi Laura

Cafeteria Catholicism is alive and well in Canada, too. Sometimes I wonder if we're not worse off because our higher percentage of nominal Catholics and a much lower rate, historically, of anti-Catholicism to make us fight!

As for doing yoga without the spirituality...

Some people can't do it. The movements are in themselves a prayer to Hindu gods or goddesses. I am one who took up yoga as a teen and found myself getting WAY off path from Christianity. THAT time it was not a complete accident on my part.

It has been many years since I was involved in any way with Eastern mysticism or the New Age. I still cannot do something like Tai Chi (and I asked a priest first if he thought I'd be okay!)without feeling the pull toward the spirituality. I firmly believe that some people will be attracted to the spirituality even if they're not looking for it.

The article I linked to is quite clear about what we are dealing with. Yoga is named specifically as something to be avoided. We should listen to the Church.

And as Catholics, we don't need to go down those roads. We have our own methods to achieve health!