A couple of months back, my friend invited me to a trial session of Laugher Yoga. I was going through a difficult period at the time and although I really had no idea what I was letting myself in for, I appreciated the invitation.
Who doesn’t need more laughter in their life?
It would seem that I had completely erased all memory of that clip on ‘The Moaning of Life’ where Karl Pilkington, the dead pan misery-guts we all know and love, forces his face to crack surrounded by 40+ complete strangers. Have you seen it? Our experience wasn’t dissimilar…
On Wednesday evening of last week, the two of us turned up to the pre-booked venue, a little unsure of what we were letting ourselves in for but looking forward to a good laugh and some exercise combined. The first surprise was being greeted by an instructor who was wearing jeans. JEANS? Where was her lycra? Her trainers? Her yoga mat? In fact there were no mats in the building at all!
Is it too late to leave now?
The answer to that question of course was ‘yes’, unless we wanted to leave the other eight poor unsuspecting individuals in the lurch. The evening began with us introducing ourselves “Hello my name is…..” cue laughter. Forced laughter. Or was it? I actually couldn’t get my name out without guffawing half way through. Was this woman for real? Before 5 minutes had passed, my friend and I had tears streaming down our faces but perhaps that was the point…
Something told me that it wasn’t…
As the instructor explained the three different types of laughter: ‘Ho ho ho ho ho’ ‘Ha ha ha ha ha’ and ‘He he he he he he’ (“for the gigglers”) I continued to wonder when we were going to start some actual yoga. Where were the zen like poses I was looking forward to learning? The relaxation techniques I had been promised? When would I get to show off my downward dog?
We proceeded to learn the lawn-mower move, the hot cuppa soup, the credit card bill and the best one of all, telling a story in gibberish to the complete stranger who had the misfortune of standing next to us. Most people seemed to be entering into the evening, whilst I continued to frantically scan the room for evidence of hidden cameras.
Would we be the next comedy sensation to go viral?
I honestly cannot begin to describe the level of excruciating shame we experienced that evening. The clock seemed to be moving at an impossibly slow pace where every minute felt like an hour.
BUT I did indeed sleep like a baby that night (why do people use that expression again?). I can also confirm that fake laughter induces real laughter and releases the same level of endorphins that a good giggle with your mates produces.
I’m not sure that I will be following the instructor’s suggestion of laughing out loud whilst sitting in the next traffic queue I find myself in. And I’m still deliberating* over whether the intense pain we went through to achieve eight hours of uninterrupted sleep was worth it, but my children had a good laugh at my expense when I got home!
Have you tried Laughter Yoga (I’m not sure I’ve sold it to you all that well)?
*Having discovered that the lovely Jennifer Anniston was rushed into hospital after a ‘dangerously prolonged laughing fit‘ earlier this week, I think my decision has been made.