Fire & Earth Podcast E53: Combining Yoga and Laughter to Reduce Stress with Brittney Hiller

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about yoga. In this episode we discuss some of the basics of yoga and how anyone can practice this stress relieving practice. We also jump into laughter yoga and the power of laughter.

Seems a bit childish? Exactly and when you listen you’ll be laughing with us and see how yoga and laugher really do provide stress relief and help us unlock our potential.

We are joined by Brittney Hiller a yoga instructor and speaker. You can learn more and sign up for her laughter yoga certification course at: brittneyhilleryoga.com

#fireandearthpodcast #yoga #laughter

Transcript

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Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of the fire and earth Podcast. I am your co host Kathy Gruver

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And I’m Jason Medford, and today we have Brittney Hiller with us. Hey, Brittney,

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Hey,

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Hi, Laura Hillard and we just have this conversation.

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With her it’s healer.

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And you said hyler

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I know I was I was messing around.

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All right, anyway.

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Just have this conversation. Okay. Jason is being persnickety today is without

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OK. So anyway, Brittany, welcome to the show. We’re so excited to have you. So why don’t you take a couple minutes and tell us who you are, what your background is, and why you’re so fabulous at what you do.

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Sure. Well, thank you so much guys for having me here. This is so fantastic. Um. Mine’s pretty hilly

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And I do a lot of things. So first and foremost, I’m a yoga teacher and a massage therapist I founded effervescence yoga studio and spa. You’re in

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The fruit, South Carolina. So I’m on the east coast and I practiced.

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Yoga since I was a kid. So it’s actually 15 when I began yoga and my dance class in high school. So that was really fun. After the very first time.

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Of taking yoga, you get a nap at the end. So for anybody out there who’s never done yoga before the last part of yoga is the best part of yoga and if they don’t give that to you. They’re completely wrong. So

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The

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Time is the best time

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So what I do is I found out like at that moment. This is for me. I want to teach this and 15 years old, I had no idea how I was going to do that.

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Fast forward 15 more years. And I find myself now teaching yoga. I’m offering opportunity for making people laugh through laughter yoga, which is another modality. I use

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And as well as leading people through meditations and stress relieving exercises so that they can get out of their own way right with the junk.

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So I enjoy doing that. I love taking laughter yoga to speaking engagements as well. I’ve done many retreats and

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It was really fun because one time I did a retreat, where we had the opportunity of taking laughter yoga every morning. And so what the retreat facilitator found was that she was able to get

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Everybody involved to open up and talk which was great because this was a body mind coaching platform.

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So whereas before she found people kind of hidden back and it wouldn’t really share

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And now with this modality of waking people up in the morning, they were able to just it’s energizing and team building for everyone. So they were able to really connect on a deeper level and take it.

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To just the stratosphere. Basically, they went above and beyond what they thought was going to happen within the retreat. We got renowned reviews about that. So it was really exciting. So my my awesome um

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Yeah.

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You just told us why you’re awesome.

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Oh, for people. Most people are kind of familiar with the idea of yoga. We’ve seen or done yoga in some form or another. But what’s laughter yoga explain that to us.

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Yeah, for sure. So laughter yoga is great if it says yoga at the end because of the breathing aspect. So there is no downward dog unless you want to laugh and Down Dog. I have created that as well, where people can do a whole vinyasa flow with laughter in it, and it is exhausting.

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Um, so what we’ve done is we they Dr Madonna Qatar area created laughter yoga in 1995

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And it was a way for him to work with his cardiac patients. So as a cardiologist. He wanted to find a way where they could do exercise aerobic Lee without doing a lot of movement and a lot of strain to their body.

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So they ended up I’m putting together this little group and he started with telling jokes. After his studies and happiness.

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And telling jokes, but he realized like, I’m not really resonating with a lot of people here. So then he put in

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The idea of childlike playfulness and what childlike playfulness does is allows people to utilize imagination and play.

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And so, as they did that. Then they took everyday activities that you would do. I love to the argument. One is great. Like every day when

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Someone, whether it’s yourself or your friend or your cat. Right. Why not your fingers.

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And and laugh. And so there’s no talking throughout the modality. It’s just laughter. And what they found is with 20 minutes of laughter yoga exercises you can

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Have just as much of an aerobic exercise as you would if you were doing a row machine or an elliptical, which is pretty fantastic. Oh.

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Okay, well, because when you said yoga or Laughter laughter yoga right i thought i mean i’ve seen. I don’t know if either one of you have seen the road to. Well, Bill. It’s an old movie.

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Yeah, yeah. Okay. What about about Dr. Kellogg, you know, that was one of the guys that kind of started Kellogg’s right

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And there’s a park is he had a Sanitarium I think was in Michigan right Battle Creek, Michigan.

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And and and show some scenes, you know, of all these people, you know, like in the late 1800s, and they’re all dressed up, you know, kind of, you know, period, clothing and they’re all sitting around going, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.

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Right.

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They were actually doing laughter exercises as part of this stuff there at the sanatorium that he had. So, so it’s interesting. Now that that you say that

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And kind of bring that in, because it’s, I mean there’s there’s a big power and energy shift that happens when we laugh.

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And so, combining that with something else like yoga, I think, is is really kind of interesting. And you know, I know. Kathy, you’re, you’re, you and Brittany that you know a lot more about yoga than I do. Right. I mean, I’m, I’m a guy. And so, so maybe we can even

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See where I’m going. Guy.

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I’m a guy a

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Token white guy. I forgot.

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I’m the token white guy in the picture, right.

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But it but if we take a couple steps back because I think to, you know, I have a friend who’s a yoga instructor, but he’s male

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And that’s, that’s kind of unusual because I think most of the time, you know, and for people that are listening that maybe have never done yoga never tried it. I’ve, I’ve actually tried it.

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You know, to maybe talk a little bit about kind of some of the basics, you know, with it because I think there’s a lot of

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Belief or stereotype around it. You know, it’s like, oh, it’s the women, you know, wear yoga pants carry their little map. They go, they’re kind of doing their exercise.

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They’re stretching, but even Brittany, as you said, yoga is a lot about breathing. Right. And so maybe kind of explain some of the basics about it for people and then maybe we can kind of understand better how the laughing part of it actually comes into it as well.

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Sure. So what’s interesting is with the yoga practices that we do now in the Western culture, um, that seemed to be mostly female based it’s actually based in rooted in a male only traditional so

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Okay.

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Yeah, it’s like only guys were allowed to do these practices of yoga until it was brought over to the west coast.

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I believe it was Swami beyond Ananda I can’t really pronounce name. Um, but what he did is he brought it to the west coast and then

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Created this culture where he realized like women are really interested in doing this and so met and you’ll get in its own form was actually mostly meditation.

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Deep breathing exercises which helps us to relax it helps to calm down and it opens us up to the opportunity to become more creative, to be more clear minded.

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And so the Asana portion of yoga, which is the poses actually came in later on. So like when it, when it was developed into the Western culture.

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That’s when they mixed all three together because originally the Asana the poses of yoga was looked down upon it was frowned on because people were doing them in the streets in India for a way of creating money so they look like fiddler’s ugly and

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Fascinating right

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And so if you think about like our culture and everybody who’s looking at everybody who practices. Your looks at yoga or thinks about yoga. They think like, oh, only

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Particular looking women can do yoga, which is totally false, but that’s just what’s happening in my opinion with with social media is becoming better because we’re looking at everybody doing yoga.

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Which I think is fantastic. And then now we need like everybody to understand they can do yoga, regardless of how you show up in your meat suit.

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Right, we can all practice this, because it helps us to calm down. It helps us to for stress relief.

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It helps us reduce anxiety. It keeps our muscles lengthens through creating flexibility. So that’s another

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false belief that people have to be flexible in order to do yoga totally false, right. It’s like my friend Megan says the best. She’s like, so you’re telling me every time you say that you must be flexible to do yoga that I’m or that you’re not flexible, so you can’t do yoga. So then

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You’re too hungry. You can’t eat.

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No, no, really, what it does is it creates flexibility for you. So we’re gonna we’re going to take that

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Miss out and understand like, this is a modality that really helps our body, not only internally but externally as well just keeping us limber so that we are now allowing herself to resist an injury and over, you know, joint pain, all sorts of things. Yeah.

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And there’s so many different styles of yoga. I’m practice. So I’ve actually got a huge yoga fan.

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Because I grew up dancing. My body is built for dancing not yoga and they’re kind of antagonists to each other sometimes. So when I’ve had yoga instructor say put your knees over your toes.

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Can I need. Don’t go over my toes, because I’m constantly turned out. So if my feet are facing forward as they’re typically supposed to and most yoga poses my body doesn’t do it I’m turned out so it’s hilarious. God, I’m so flexible, but for dancing, not for yoga, so it’s

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Just so antagonists to my body and it’s a little slow I i I’m a little fast.

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Jason is but I’m

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Energizer Bunny.

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So to tell me to slow down and breathe. It’s like, no, it’s not gonna happen. So, but I’ve been doing actually doing yoga at home, I found a woman on YouTube that I really like and I’m enjoying just like 10 or 15 minutes a day.

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I’m trying not to hurt myself because it does bother my wrists and elbows and stuff, what I’m doing but the down poses, but I’m I’m adjusting to it.

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But my body feels great. The time that I have done a yoga class I feel longer I feel lengthened

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My breathing is deeper I feel more relaxed. So it’s a great modality. And you’re right, for any anybody, anybody can do it. And I have some clients who are bigger women.

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Who they actually have found yoga classes for larger people and they just augment the poses. With bolsters and blocks and things like that so that you can do it so

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If you’re interested in. There’s gotta be something in your community that you can try to do so now let’s talk about the laughter part of us because I have done laughter yoga several times. In fact, I think that’s how I met you.

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Didn’t we meet at the naturopath conference.

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Yes.

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That was a long time ago.

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Very, very long time ago.

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Wow, okay. Yeah, so the laughter part of the laughter yoga because I love making people laugh as adults we don’t laugh enough. What is the statistic adults like eight times and kids laugh hundreds or something like that.

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Yes, yes, they’re like 500 times a day. Although sorry I have to be quiet. My dog. Quite, quite. Okay.

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Although, um, well I’ve learned, especially with digital media the way that children are being raised today now with more and more and more digital media in front of them. Um, the laughing Is

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Decreased unfortunately. So, but yes, naturally, like a natural kid would laugh up to three to 400 times a day just naturally

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Um, whereas adults are like, you know, eight to 15 times but adults also feel that they need to have a reason in order to laugh. So it also taught kids do.

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Teach kids yoga as well. And what I found, which was so fascinating the ages that I would teach is one through four

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And about three to four is when society would kick in and their left brain would start to turn on and say, like, I need to analyze this so we would do laughter yoga do it with them, and I’d have a couple kids be like, what, what’s so funny. Why do we have to lie.

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Yeah, three. Yeah, three

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Just, just laugh.

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It’s like it just need a reason so

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Let’s turn on your imagination. I know you have it. Let’s pretend

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Jason I know no excuse to laugh I have so many laughing Well,

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Nobody but it but it’s interesting you know as your as you’re talking about that because you’re right i mean there’s at some point.

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In in our lives right when all of a sudden we decide, you know that we have to analyze it and determine if it’s really funny. Before we can laugh.

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Right. And I know I see this, you know, with some, some kids have our friends that are like your six now. Right.

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And and so I’m always trying to tell you know we try to tell them, like the little knock knock jokes and and the other stuff like that. Right. And so there’d be times right when I would

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Tell. It’s a stupid joke right but it’s like a first grader joke right and and he looks at me. He’s like, Jason. That was not funny. It’s like

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But it’s kind of interesting, like you said there is there is this time where we kind of switch over and we decide, you know, that maybe we can’t laugh or we have to analyze and determine if it’s really funny. Instead of just laughing right

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So, so again I mean we’re sitting here, we’re laughing as we’re talking and I’m sitting here to myself, because I’ve never done the laughing yoga.

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Is this like

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How does that actually all tie together because you know when I did yoga. It was like, you know, like I said, trying to do the poses trying to breathe.

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You know, kind of stuff. So how do you incorporate laughter into yoga because I’d be like falling over and everything like that. Right. I mean, do you

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Are the poses still kind of included in it or how, how does this work and then maybe you can talk a little bit more because you said you did this at the beginning of one of the retreats.

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You know, kind of how that would work, how it opens us up.

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To be able to be more receptive and really get our full potential. Right.

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So as Kathy has experienced a long time ago.

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Long time ago in a faraway land.

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It was it was Las Vegas.

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Ooh.

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Ooh.

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Planet. Yeah.

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Yeah yeah

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The laugh at there though.

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Oh, yeah.

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So what I thought was that we actually use four key components in laughter yoga. So there’s really no yoga poses as I’m saying, like the Asana portion of yoga doesn’t exist in laughter yoga. It’s more

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Awesome. I mean poses. It’s more of the property Yama, so the breath, the breath work in the meditation, those two aspects of yoga that they bring it in.

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And this was created in India. So being in India they utilized. Of course, the first way of yoga being graded. So then they added. Laughter Instead of Asana

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And so the key components that we utilize his eye contact. So imagine that you’re partnered with somebody, you’re going to look into their eyes, you’re not going to talk to them.

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But you’re still going to have a conversation with them through laughter so that connects us on a whole deeper level and then as my husband likes to recommend and say to people.

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At first it’s weird. It’s very weird. And then afterwards, though, you start to feel the effects of it and

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At the end, it’s just like you survived this weird thing together. And now people who you wouldn’t connect with on a normal basis.

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You’re just connecting with them and I mean by normal basis as it’s like picture yourself in a meeting.

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With people from your business that you or your organization that you’re working with. But you only see on like a weekend or a team building exercise moment.

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And then now before some other team building exercises might be, I don’t know, happy hour. I don’t really recall, like what the conversations were so this is

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Good.

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So Dre.

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Will talk about the risky drinking after the show. Okay, good.

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So on this one though. What happens is your silver your sound mind and body, you have the, the key elements of the eye contact. Clapping

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Laughing. Hahaha. But the laughter is more of a deep belly breath. LAUGHTER And then the childlike playfulness which through this. We utilize imaginative improvisational exercises.

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So like I said, pretend you’re doing something throughout your day. Maybe you’re talking on your cell phone, right. This is the easy. LAUGH And then you just you laugh gazing into the eyes of the person with you.

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Pretending like you guys are both having a really great conversation through. LAUGHTER And so once this each laughter yoga exercise actually lasts around like

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Yeah 10 to 15 seconds. And so once it’s complete. Then we move on to the next.

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Exercise and the total amount of exercises is typically around 20 minutes. And so just imagine how much energy you get when you laugh normally just by yourself without

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Without reason or you find something that’s funny, and you’re laughing and then imagine doing this for 20 minutes straight with people that you’ve never met before, right to left brain construct to get in there like okay

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It seems weird

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So what we do is we we allow people to understand that this is coming from a playfulness aspects. So turn on your right brain.

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Let your left brain be quiet for a moment, understand that you’re going to try to analyze. But the laughter comes regardless. So if you’re faking your laughter

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The body doesn’t understand what fake laughter is you still get all of the physiological benefits of oxygenation of your blood have increased oxygenation throughout your body.

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releasing endorphins and basically this energizing effect that occurs through laughter So, the brain is only what turns on the idea of fake or real

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Well, and now, and now I can see some of that connection stuff too, because you’re talking about, you know, gazing exercises. Right. I mean, Cathy, you use that. I mean,

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A lot of times actors will do that as a way to kind of get the connection to be able to do the scene.

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I’ve done that, you know, with groups that I’ve done, you know, either where I’m a participant or leading you know where you end up using that gazing exercise as an opportunity to develop that deeper connection and it is it is kind of

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Awkward. I mean, you talked about it, you know, being like this awkward moment that we made it through.

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And I remember you know my first the first time that I did a gazing exercise. I wanted to laugh right because it was me and it was like this big. I mean like manly man.

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You know that we were we were gazing into each other’s eyes and both of us were kind of like, okay, this is kind of weird, like this is the first time we’ve done it. And this is like this is not how

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How bros do it. You know, it’s like, but

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You’re rolling your eyes, but it is, but in. And you know what, by the time that we get done with it. We ended up hugging each other.

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Of course, right, because, because, you know, and at first there was kind of that uncomfortableness but then it got it just kind of changed. And so I can totally see that were to

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As you’re bringing in the laughter with that you’re getting all of those physiological things from the laughter but you’re also connecting with that other person so

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And and you have to

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There’s this sort of suspension of disbelief that goes along with it because the times that I’ve done it. And I know I did it with you, Brittany, but also have been other conferences where I’ve done laughter yoga things

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And it’s interesting because I can laugh at anything. And I’m pretty much not self conscious about anything.

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But I’m looking around the room and you can see these people like they’re so afraid to just let go because they feel stupid and they feel like people are looking at them, they’re feeling vulnerable and

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You know, especially with gazing, you get an introvert with gazing that’s gonna freak them out and you get the internet with gazing Oh now pretend you’re talking on your cell phone or pretend you’re on a hot beach or pretend you’re having an

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Argument is the most fun. That’s the one that I’ve done with with groups occasionally do the argument one where you just get in someone’s face and be like, hahaha

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And you have this entire. This is our argument for your just laughing at each other, which is hilarious.

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But you do you feel so good when you’re done. And I remember I I love kids movies. I don’t have kids. I love kids movies and my husband. I went to see the movie pets.

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With it was a cartoon with all the different animals, and he’s like, who’s code is stupid.

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And what I did instead because I’m like, You know what, I’m in this situation.

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Let’s make the situation real for me. I had hamsters, and guinea pigs and stuff growing up and there’s this whole scene with hamsters on the wheel and it got stuck in the thing

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And I sat there, I laughed my ass off. And he kind of looks over at me and I thought, I have a 10 year old right now. Like, why can I not just pretend to be a kid.

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And enjoy this. Why do I have to say, which kind of stupid or that animation sucks.

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Why not just give us a fully over to that experience and enjoy that as a 10 year old and I love the movie. I walked down there feeling so high and feeling so good because I’m like a hamster. It’s funny, you know, I just laughed at it.

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So how do we convince adults to go back to that childlike play because, boy, are we resistant

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To tip on that.

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Yeah so so convincing them doesn’t really work but

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I would love to, um, but what I say. Because my husband specifically is more of a left brain thinker, a logical person.

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Who analyzes lots of things, whereas I am more of the right brain creative, I’m ready to just burst out laughing at any minute. I don’t care. I’m ready for fun.

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Not that he’s not. But you know what I mean, there are the people who are stuck right they call themselves the eight type people. And so what I do.

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You get the benefit you get the benefit you understand, like, you do need to calm down sometimes

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Perfect timing.

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Right, I’m like, she’s left. But even with the. I’m like, right, even with regular yoga when people go into yoga, they do the same thing, like they’re just like

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I can’t do it. It can slow down a type mentality. So what I do is I recommend to people who are with me because I the something Cathy like I’ll notice people who are just stuck and they just don’t get it.

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Um, which is fine, but what I noticed is when they realize that they’re the my like they’re the only ones that aren’t participating and there’s more people that are they’ll

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They’ll kind of come out of it is what I’ve noticed with groups that I’ll put together and they’ll kind of just like okay I guess we’ll try it.

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And then

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Eventually, select go. But what if they don’t like I talked to it. I speak to them and I say specifically like into the crowd. Okay.

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I understand your left brain is just talking to you right now. You feel like this is stupid. What am I doing this person is laughing at me, not with me all the things that you could be thinking about

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Right now I get it. But I invite you instead to come into tap into that joy. You know that joy. If you see a dog or if you see a cat. I had a guy who was like, if you see a cat. He was like, no cats like

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A dog.

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Marmot ferret what

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We’re gonna nail

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I don’t know ice cream. I don’t know. But, you know, find your joy, find your joy and. And when you have that many experienced that then, like, just let it out, let it out.

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Um, and sometimes. Sometimes they won’t. And that’s okay. That’s their their their situation and unfortunately, as a leader, as a teacher, I got to understand, like, that’s them. But typically, I have a

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Pretty good success rate of getting people into that. LAUGHTER And then with interesting Abby and afterwards. Just noticing.

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Noticing the connection that’s created because of that eye contact, because of the laughing The no talking the no judgment. The idea of just letting go.

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It’s phenomenal and Kathy you experienced that as well. Right. I mean, you saw the group. You see the groups do it. You see how people connect deeper without if you’ll notice that I know you’ll notice the beginning and how people are

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Kind of closed off. I think she likes the buzzer.

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Even s&m dog. That’s really great.

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But

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As we

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As we Busby

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Uber, but just seeing the differences is really fascinating. It really is awesome and I think is what because what you’re saying there is

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You know, I’m a little both left and right brain right but my but my training was left brain very, very much all through school. Everything else very analytical and its nature, and I think that

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You know, as you’re talking about a lot of times, as people we want to hold back. And we talked before on earlier episodes about masks and about walls that we put up and other things like that. Right.

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Is that a lot of times we we try to hide behind these things. And we’re so worried about letting people actually see us for who we are.

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But, but really those breakthroughs and unlocking potential doesn’t come until you actually let that go.

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And and and it’s okay. I mean, I mean, like you said, you know, when you’re when you’re in the group setting like that a lot of people are thinking, oh, you know, everybody’s gonna be watching me.

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And they’re going to see that I can’t touch my toes. Well guess what, I can’t touch my toes right now, either, right. I used to be able to straight leg. Of course I can always bend them and still touch him but

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At least at something right and and with any of these practices like yoga, whether it’s, you know, traditional

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You know more of the, the, the, the positions, whether it’s the breathing, whether it’s the laughter

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It’s all we should just be in that moment and really not give a damn what anybody else is thinking because the reality is, nobody else’s looking at us either right nobody’s nobody in that room is judging us if we can do the pose. Exactly right. If, if we’re feeling a little

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Withdrawn like

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You know, our were fake laughing or whatever it is. That was my attempt at fake. Laughing

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There’s a real laugh.

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But it’s but it but it doesn’t really matter. Just, just do it. Just, just jump and try to let

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Go. Yeah, I mean, even for for like you said you know it’s it’s

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Each of these is like 10 to 15 seconds. Maybe 20 minutes in total, just let yourself go for 20 minutes because, you know, again, you know, I know you talked about the doctor to begin with.

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And there’s been I read different studies about in the medical field using laughter and other things like that. And it really does have a restorative and healing effect on the patients.

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And so, you know, if they can get it there and we can get it through something like laughter yoga. Then, my gosh, why are we not doing it right word, we take ourselves too serious. We take life too serious. And we just need to let some of that go

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Well, that’s the whole Norman Cousins book wasn’t it him who he was diagnosed with some terminal illness and he

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checked himself out of the hospital and went home and just watch reruns of the Three Stooges and basically laughed himself back to health and there’s an entire book about that. So yeah. So once again we blow through our half hour.

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We do this every time I’m the timekeeper the Capricorn of the group. So

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We love to continue laughing

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So let’s, I mean, any final thoughts, Brittany, and how can people reach you, and this has been awesome and I. It’s a great reminder that we do need to laugh more

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And hang out with people who bring that joy and that laughter out in us. And if they don’t, then just do it yourself. Yeah. Yeah. All right ready, let’s take us bring us bring us home what any final thoughts of how can everybody reach you.

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Sure. So I would love to just recommend take a laugh laugh in your car, right, nobody’s paying attention.

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Everybody has some sort of device needs to look like it, but feel free to just laugh it out in your car. And notice how you feel in your body.

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You can reach me specifically at Brittany Hillary yoga calm, where I offer laughter yoga certification online so you can take an eight week course and become a laughter yoga leader yourself.

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You could also work with me one on one. And I’m also welcome to do retreats as well. Bringing laughter yoga to your location and helping more amazing people to feel good in their bodies.

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Well, and I think that’s important because having, having been on retreats myself and doing them.

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There has to be something like that to start getting the connection because if you want the magic to happen during the retreat. People have to feel connected and they have to kind of let go of some of those things.

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Or else the magic doesn’t happen. And so it’s great that you that you offer that service to be able to help people do that and get the most out of those those things. Thank you.

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I love it. It’s fun super fun.

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Of course, it is because we’re laughing

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Because it’s fun, it’s not fun. It’s not laughter yoga.

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Yeah, there’s a new tagline aren’t already. This has been an amazing episode, Brittany, thank you so much for coming on and we’re so pleased to have you. We will have to have you back. And we’ll do more laughing I’m Kathy Gruber. I can be reached at Kathy Griffin calm.

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And I’m Jason method I can be reached at Jason method calm. So go out there, this week. LAUGH. Heck, don’t even wait until later in the week. Go. LAUGH today. Hopefully you

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You got some laughter Even just hearing us laugh and because as we talked about, it’s going to make your life feel better. So go out there and unlock your limitless potential and we’ll see you in a future episode of the fire and earth podcasts. See ya.

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Yeah.

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