On Saturday I finally got to do something I’ve been wanting to try for a while – Laughter Yoga. Called yoga by its founder, Dr Madan Kataria, because it utilises breathing exercises similar to those used in mainstream yoga, and because it includes some of the yogic tools of exercise and meditation to boost health and wellbeing, it is nonetheless unlike any other form of yoga you might have encountered. It begins with the simple premiss that laughter is good for you – both physically and emotionally – and utilises the fact that the body cannot distinguish between “real” and “pretend” laughter in order to benefit from it.
Practically this means that the yoga session began with games to bring out our sense of childish playfulness and start us all laughing as an exercise. These games were all quite physical and appealed hugely to my sense of fun. Yes, I’m a child at heart! We all laughed together, individually, never at each other and made a lot of silly noise.
The session culminated in the meditative phase – although again like no meditation you might have done before. We lay down like spokes of a a wheel as you would in savasana, or corpse pose, with our heads near each other and our eyes shut or looking at the ceiling and just laughed. For no reason, for 15 minutes.
Afterwards we had tea and chocolate biscuits and a bit of a chat before getting on separately with the rest of our weekends. It was all a huge amount of fun and I met some very interesting new people, not least Havina, the laughter yoga leader and organiser, who did a really excellent job of getting us all to work together. And, don’t mistake it, exercise it was, afterwards I felt pretty tired and went to bed early knowing my body had had a good workout. My mind, however, felt very light and I look forward to the next session.
If you feel inspired to join Havina’s classes, contact her on Twitter @LaughterChester and she’ll keep you in the loop for future dates. See you there perhaps, ha ha ha ho ho ho!