My daughter always encourages me to “practice yoga” – “it’s good for you mom.” And yes, she’s right. Every time I take a class, I feel better – more relaxed and definitely more flexible.
So when I recently read about a “Laughter Yoga” class at Studio Beju in Duvall, I knew I had to check it out. My motivating thought was that I typically laugh at myself as I am attempting certain stretches so I am already doing it to an extent.
LaughterGlow Yoga class in progress. (Courtesy photo)I called Randee Young, owner, with LaughterGlow to find out more.
Her classes in Duvall were on summer hiatus so as an alternative she invited me to a class she was teaching at Fairwinds Retirement Community in Redmond.
Not knowing what to expect, I showed up in my yoga gear, with my yoga mat, and water bottle. I walked into the classroom and realized immediately that I was overdressed so to speak. Regular street clothes would have sufficed and since chairs were arranged in a half circle it was unlikely I’d need my mat. But it was a good opportunity for me to immediately laugh at myself so I knew I was starting the class off right. (Please note that the senior classes are typically taught in chairs whereas other classes with younger clientele involve moving around more.)
There were five lovely ladies, who were residents of Fairwinds, in the class with me. Randee welcomed everyone, and let the ladies know that I was participating to learn more about Laughter Yoga for a story that I was writing.
As with all yoga classes (or at least the ones I have attended), we started with breathing exercises. Then along with the breathing, we added stretches, and you guessed it laughing, giggling, and smiling. More fun and humor followed with us making silly faces and laughing at each other in our small group. I may have started out faking my laughs, but soon I was truly laughing. Maybe in part because I was wondering what anyone who walked by might have thought of our antics.
As a class leader, Randee has an aura about her that makes you instantly feel good. She is relaxed and helps you relax as well. Her smile is genuine, and she really seemed to enjoy laughing with us.
As Randee explained Laughter Yoga is good for us on many levels. Laughter releases endorphins that give us the “feel good factor.” It promotes positive thinking, improves respiration and circulation, and reduces stress and tension.
Laughter Yoga is really a thing too – throughout the world – no joke. Dr. Madan Kataria developed it over 25 years ago. Randee learned about it from a guest speaker at Fairwinds. She enjoyed the class so much she became leader certified and now has her teacher certification, which allows her to train others.
The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. One gets the same physiological and psychological benefits. Clinical research has proved that laughter lowers the level of stress hormones (epinephrine, cortisol, etc.) in the blood.
Randee Young (left) with fellow classmate at Laughter Yoga training class. (Courtesy photo)Following 30 minutes of fun, Randee ended the class with a total relaxation segment that left me refreshed and clear-headed.
As I was driving home, a driver who was driving very erratically cut me off. Admittedly, I had a flash of anger that I was able to turn off I know due to the class that I had just taken. I thought about that driver, and many others who could benefit from yoga and a dose of laughter in their lives. When I later mentioned this to Randee she agreed and said that Laughter Yoga has helped her deal with traffic by letting out a “Ha, Ha, Ho” instead of letting getting angry.
Randee has spent most of her life in Washington state and has lived the last 10 years in Duvall. In addition to her LaughterGlow business, she is the Guest Services Manager at Fairwinds.
I asked her what she enjoys most about Duvall. She said she loves the small town feel of Duvall and the access to the outdoors. Randee along with her husband and dog spend many afternoons on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.
Classes at Studio Beju will start again in the fall according to Randee, but in the meantime, she’s available for private and group sessions that promote team building and support. Randee is looking “for more opportunities to spread the joy of laughter.”
To learn more about Laughter Yoga, see upcoming class schedules or contact Randee for a private session, email Randee at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.maylaughterglow.com.
Mia Harris is making a difference with soup, socks and compassion towards fellow humans. She will be a sophomore at UW Bothell this fall and is studying media and communications along with economics and public policy. She is also the Director of Communication and Lead Peace Committee Chair for UW Bothell (UWB) Rotaract.
Rotaract is the college version of Rotary. The UWB Club is an offshoot of the Woodinville Rotary Club. Currently about 15-20 students participate on campus. Harris participated in Rotary through her high school in Bremerton so when she saw the table at college orientation last year, she decided to sign up. She said, “Rotaract is a very inclusive club and we welcome everyone.” They meet monthly with a guest speaker presentation.
July 14 BBQ group shot with Mia and the UW Bothell Rotaract, Woodinville Rotary, Northshore Fire Department, and Woodinville Fire Department. (Photo by Carol Lee)UWB Rotaract has embraced the mission as a Rotary PeaceBuilders Club and is aiming to create and spread awareness of homelessness, the difference between working poor and being homeless, and the need in our community and globally. Harris has long been an advocate for homelessness so she is very active in helping to organize events and build awareness. UWB Rotaract has partnered with Camp Unity Eastside (CUE) for their Peace Project.
CUE is a tent village with residents that aren’t who you might normally expect. They’re a mix of families and individuals, some employed and others unemployed. Many leave in the morning to go to their jobs or to find affordable housing, and come back assured they have a place to call their own. It is a safe and secure place to rest at night. Folks from all walks of life live at CUE, and all of them have a unified goal: To pick up the pieces of a life that is familiar and to move into a more prosperous and sustainable future. Whether it’s finding work, a new place to live, or just a fresh start at life, camp residents are supported by the community at-large.
Camp supervisors and board members are professionals who guide and help camp residents throughout their stay. Anyone experiencing homelessness is encouraged to visit Camp Unity Eastside. CUE is an 18+ adult camp village. Drugs or alcohol are not allowed.
One way, UWB Rotaract is working with CUE is by organizing events. They hosted two Sock and Soup events this winter/spring and just hosted a Sock and BBQ event last month. For that event the Woodinville and Northshore Fire Departments stepped up as sponsors by donating and cooking all of the food. Harris said that Bombas socks has been very supportive and donates socks to the residents at CUE for these events.
During the event, members of Rotaract spent time getting to know members at CUE. “It was nice to share a sunny day, share a meal, and share stories,” Harris said. Oftentimes, homeless people do not get the opportunity to socialize so this event is a step in the right direction of helping them feel included. Harris added, “The goal is to build peace through every event.”
For someone so young, Harris has learned the importance of giving and you can hear the compassion in her voice.
About being involved in the Peace Project she said, “It makes me feel grateful for what I have and wants me to help more. It makes me happy and makes me feel like I’m making a difference.”
The next Rotaract PeaceBuilder event is the Steve Dolan Picnic for Peace Builders on August 14th from 5-8 p.m. at Nardo Land (22128 Paradise Lake Rd, Snohomish, WA 98296). The event promises fun, games, prizes, activities, and a free picnic dinner. All activity ticket proceeds will go to the Dolan Haiti Mission. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/2147952808776294/
To learn more about the UW Bothell Rotaract Club and upcoming events, visit https://www.facebook.com/UWBRAC/,
To learn more about Camp Unity Eastside, visit https://campunityeastside.com/.
Ten-year-old Tyler Carach, The Donut Boy, began his mission to thank every police officer in America in August of 2016.
As his mom, Sheena (who was traveling with Tyler on this trip) explained, Tyler is passionate about thanking officers for the sacrifices they make on a daily basis for total strangers.
Tyler (aka The Donut Boy) posing with two of Everett's finest Aaron Snell and Yulia Wold last week. (Photo by Kristen Hamilton)Fast forward to July 30, 2018 where he was visiting his 35th state in the U.S. with his visit here in Washington. Up to this point, Tyler has passed out 65,000 donuts to his heroes in blue.
I met up with Tyler and his mom at Galls Store on Aurora Avenue in Seattle. Galls has supported “The Donut Boy” since the inception of the program. The Carachs would be heading to the Eastside later in the day to visit Snohomish Sheriff’s Department and officers throughout our readership area.
Tyler was wearing his signature cape with the motto “I donut need a reason to thank a cop” sewn into the back. He readily admitted he had already eaten four donuts as he buzzed around the store on a stool on wheels. Sheena commented that she was a little concerned about the sugar crash that might happen later in the day.
He welcomed officers from Redmond, Seattle, and Everett with a big smile and asked what type of donut they would like. Everyone sincerely thanked Tyler for his recognition and happily posed for photos with The Donut Boy.
This trip involves visiting five states to bring Tyler’s total to 39 by the time he returns home to Florida mid month just in time to start 5th grade.
From here they are heading to Alaska then stops in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. What a great kid – keep up the good work Tyler!
Larry Bridges, Voice and Performance Coach for over 40 years, thinks you can and he’ll help you along the way.
Throughout the years, Bridges has taught students as young as 7 years old up to 84 years old. As he thinks back on his career, he says, “Many of my friends are former students.” He even married one of his students, Dorothy, over 32 years ago!
Bridges graduated with a B.M.E. in Music Education (vocal specialty) and a M.A. in Vocal Performance. His teaching career started at the University of Denver (Colorado) where he taught voice for the theatre department. While there he performed at the Country Dinner Playhouse in Denver to sold out crowds nightly.
From there it was off to Los Angeles where Bridges formed his own band. The band did well for many years and opened for Barry Manilow, among others. He continued to teach while in LA. Here he would work with many professionals that are still in the business and quite successful.
Not one to toot his own horn, I asked him to share a few of his stories.
Bridges said, “About 20 years ago, I had a phone call from a former student. He told me I had been responsible for encouraging him to keep going in the film and music industry. I taught him for a few years at the beginning of his career. His name is Mykelti Williamson (Bubba in ‘Forrest Gump’). He has been in over 100 movies, and held major roles in shows like ‘24’ and ‘Nashville.’ We keep in touch.”
Four years ago he helped a local fourth grader get ready for the Fifth Avenue Theatre auditions for “Oliver.” He made it and is now realizing his dream as a regular on the Amazon series “The Dangerous Book for Boys.”
A high school student dreamed of being in the musical “Hairspray.” Bridges worked with her and she ended up being cast in the world premier of the student edition at the International Thespian Festival.
In 1989, Bridges and his wife along with his two sons, Jordan and Austin, moved to Woodinville.
Here he opened shop with Bridges Voice Instruction and has been going strong ever since.
Bridges is a songwriter with two albums. He shared a beautiful song he wrote for his son, Jordan, to celebrate his birth called “Dreaming of Your Eyes.”
He also helps students write songs. He says, “I try to help people find their voice in the world and not just by singing.”
Bridges told me about a shy 3rd grader that he met last year. Her mom told him that she liked to make up songs, so he turned on the recorder and asked her to make up a song for him. He played piano chords to her melody and she created an “extremely creative” song. He said, “Her mom submitted it to the PTA’s ‘Reflections’ competition and she was a finalist in the state for 3rd to 5th graders.”
While meeting with Bridges in his studio in the lower level of his home, you can feel his infectious energy for teaching and passion for music. I’m certain I only touched the surface of his success stories!
His website is www.anyonecansing.com and he believes it. A humorous instructional book is in the works to help timid beginners who’ve been told they should only mouth the words.
Although his students can be any age, his typical student is still in school. He said, “I love helping them achieve their dream [of singing and acting].”
As a long time resident of the area, I asked Bridges what his favorite thing was about Woodinville. He said, “Besides the friendly people, July and August.”
What does he feel is one of the best things about the area? “The wineries and the destination business they have brought to the area.” And, the worse? “The traffic.”
Bridges is hopeful that new artists, musicians, and poets will emerge. He believes they are the key for making people more loving and tolerant.
Bridges ended by saying, “Music and art can help save the world.” I hope he’s right.