It is hard to pinpoint the exact trigger for laughter or tears. It seems to vary by individual and circumstance. My two month old sometimes gurgles with joy at the sound of my off-key singing, but it can also send him into a fit of wailing if done at the wrong moment.
This morning, my baby was in the mood for some music. My sister took a break from filing H1B visas and decided to visit. I played the Baby Einstein Pandora station while my sister and I sang along and did the Hokey Pokey around his cradle while he stared and smiled. My sister and I are usually pretty deadpan. We both feel pretty awkward in spaces that call for audience participation, so watching us sing along to children’s songs while doing awkward dance movements would be a shock to many. Luckily babies have no judgments or expectations.
After my husband came home in the evening, I picked up my sister and headed over to our neighborhood yoga studio for a restorative yoga class. This was our first time taking the class, and little did we know that we were in for our own musical treat. We almost stumbled over bolsters and blocks as we tried to find a place in the crowded room. The teacher was instructing everyone in the crowded room to get three blocks, three bolsters, and two blankets each.
Once the cloud of prop chaos settled, she began talking. She informed us it was a special day. “It’s my birthday, and my husband will be playing live music for us.” He was a sound healer, and they had lived in Bali where people traveled specifically to benefit for this time of healing. Each person was to receive healing during savasana. Her husband, dressed in an ethnic shirt and beads, waved to the class and smiled. I started to feel like I was in the middle of a Saturday Night Live or Portlandia skit. I stifled a laugh. We were about to begin.
“I like to chant,” the teacher stated. The class was chanting Om. There are a couple mantras I say at home, and I can get down with spirituality, even small doses of new agey white people appropriation type spirituality, but for some reason this was a circumstance that was triggering my sense of humor. I started saying Aaauuuu...but had to bite my cheeks and hold my breath to avoid guffawing. It was especially more difficult knowing that my sister, who was likely experiencing amusement as well, was just a few inches away from me. Instead of feeling more relaxed, I felt tension in my cheeks and stomach from holding in so much laughter.
The ninety minute class consisted of doing about five poses for a duration of eight to twenty minutes each. All of the poses just involved hulking on some prop. I would love to get paid for teaching such a class. We finally assumed savasana for the last twenty minutes. The teacher’s husband began his healing.
And it was unexpectedly truly magical. When he hovered above me with his tuning fork, something strange happened. I felt a vortex of energy extend out of my forehead. Unicorns were real. I was a spiritual unicorn with my energy horn. Unfortunately, my sister did not have the same magical experience. She had to use the bathroom, so her healing only consisted of the vibrations of her bladder resonating throughout her body.
Once class was over and we were safely out of hearing range, my sister and I burst into laughter that lasted all the way home. Once I got home, I shared the story with my husband. I was laughing so hard that tears started pouring out of my eyes.
I could look at the class as a waste of fifteen dollars. There was nothing restorative about the yoga. But then I thought about it. I had not laughed so hard in months. My sense of humor was restored, and I had tapped into my inner unicorn. Laughter and tears bowed to the divinity they found in each other. Namaste.