Humour to Deepen Your Yoga Practice
Humour might not be the first thing you think of in a yoga practice but it’s an important discovery on the path to enlightenment. Enlightenment has a few different definitions so let me break it down.
One explanation from Mirriam-Webster states that enlightenment is having knowledge or understanding. The question is, how do we create knowledge and understanding from humour and what are we trying to know or understand? To shed some light on this I have a story from an experience in France while I was at yoga teacher training.
On a break from teaching I was exploring the grounds at the center and ended up at a gate next to a farm. There was a man on the other side trying to get through and I was worried that I’d be trespassing if I passed the gate. I tried to ask if I could go that direction but he didn’t understand me so we laughed about how bad my French was. Seeing the humour in this awkward situation was easy but the message to me was clear. Even though communicating seemed challenging we used humour to find a common connection. The knowledge or understanding we’re looking to seek on the path to enlightenment doesn’t have to be anything complicated. It’s an appreciation for connection: with ourselves, with others, and with everything. The humour in my encounter reminded me of the very essence of connection in such a simple way. Even with a language barrier we still looked to connect in a meaningful way and share the humour of the situation. I could’ve chosen to get frustrated or give up but instead found joy in trying to create a conversation.
Another definition for enlightenment is from Buddhism: a final spiritual state marked by the absence of desire or suffering. I believe that humour has the ability to diffuse suffering. Even in dire situations humour can be a beautiful reminder of the simple pleasures in life.
Choosing to keep a light attitude can have a big effect by naturally creating moments of enlightenment. Even on the mat we can see all of the times we might fall on our face or look silly but it’s how we approach those situations that count.
by Emily Kane, ERYT500, Yogacara Teacher Trainer