I’ve been trying out different yoga classes offered by so many different yoga centers. Yesterday I took a laughter yoga, which, as you can imagine, I enjoyed with tons of laughter.
Laughter yoga started back in 1995 by Dr. Kataria with four other participants at a public park in Mumbai. Now there are over 8000 laughter clubs in 65 countries. The practice is based on the belief that voluntary laughter produces the same benefits as spontaneous laughter.
About ten years ago, I took part in a laughter workshop in Glastonbury and laughed my teeth off.
So when a yogi friend angie told me about this, I immediately decided to go with her. Angie thanked me for coming along because she felt she would have been relaxed enough to laugh heartily if she had gone alone.
The teacher is a tall bearded Indian man with a round face that readily breaks into a smile. He began by asking if anyone has done laughter yoga before. A few hands went up. He said, his eyes twinkling: so the rest of you have not laughed, which made everyone laugh.
Now the whole class – about twenty people – was set for a good laugh.
The one hour long session consisted of some yoga postures, mostly accompanied by laughter, yogi breathing, eye contacts and childlike plays. For example, while doing cat pose, we had to make miao sound. We sat around in a circle and massaged and tickled the person in front of you.
Our class probably produced more laughs than usual, mainly because a young western guy with a joker’s hat. I wouldn’t be too surprised that he had taken some ‘magic mushroom’ beforehand (even though recreational drug use is extremely rare in Rishikesh, unlike in some other parts of India) because he laughed hilariously non-stop. He laughed when we quietly stretched and breathed. It was not just little giggles but belly-shaking, hilarious laughs.
If he won the title ‘laughter king’, then ‘the laughter queen’ went to a young Chinese woman from Eastern China’s Hefei city. She happened to be his partner when we paired up to do our playful fight. She laughed her high-pitched, at times, hysterical laughs. At one point, she rolled around on the floor with unstoppable giggles, her small hands beating on the ground. I imagine she lives in a largely conservative, conformed society. Once out of it, why not make the most of it?
Since everyone came with the idea of having some laughs, ordinary things became laughable. The Chinese woman’s friend laughed so hard that her trousers slipped down. Just as we were told to sit down, she said: “wait.” She got up and pulled up her trousers, which sparked a fresh round of laughter.
So everyone joined in the competition, producing his or hers unique laughter. For one hour, we laughed, smiled, grinned, giggled, chuckled, and guffawed. All for 300 rupees.
What a bargain! Hahaha!