I’m not having a jolly time at the minute, so for my September 40th year activity I decided to try Laughter Yoga to help cheer myself up.
Laughter yoga (Hasyayoga) is a modern exercise involving prolonged voluntary laughter. This type of yoga is based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides similar physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter.
I’ve done it once before, a few years ago when I worked at JLR and someone arranged it for the whole office, and to be honest, I felt like a bit of a berk.
It’s basically forcing yourself to laugh. Well, maybe not quite, but making yourself laugh rather than it being the result of something funny. Not just ha-ha-ha laughing either, but deliberate different sounds like ho-ho-ho-ha-ha-ha and breathing.
I went to two online sessions: Bollywood Laughter and Motivational Dance, and Wonderful Wednesday Laughter ran by Sara Kay at Serious Laughter.
It was 9pm on a Sunday night (10am in the UK where Sara is) and I was in my pyjamas and I had no real idea what to expect, but I was up for it. In for a penny, in for a pound. I needed a laugh.
After a bit of an intro and some warm up stretching exercises, Sara flicked us all onto mute. I was thankful for this, I felt a bit self conscious, and I didn’t need me making noises to put myself onto the big Zoom screen. We all know how it works right. There’s no escaping your face being on the big Zoom screen when you make just the tiniest noise.
The Bollywood music started and we were off. I mainly just followed Sara’s moves on screen, because my dodgy hearing meant I struggled to hear some of the instructions, but it didn’t matter. Sara encouraged us to just freestyle and go with it. We danced and made ourselves laugh.
I felt a bit silly, but I leant into it; I spend too much of my days being serious. It’s liberating to not give a damn and try something new, and by the end of it I definitely felt uplifted. Not enough to forget my problems, but enough to send some endorphins on a little trip around my body, turfing out some of the cortisol that seems to have set up a permanent camp in my bloodstream without permission.
The Wednesday session was a bit earlier, designed to set you up for the start of the day in the UK. Just under half an hour of laughing exercises. No dancing this time, just different laughter, breathing and stretching exercises. It was fun, but I preferred the dance session; I liked the music and movement.
I particularly liked the warm up stretches in both sessions as I realised it’s the only time I roll my head around on my neck and, judging by the crunches that came out of it, I really should do it more often. <makes mental note to start body yoga>
Overall thoughts – good fun, great to laugh, felt a bit silly, but I enjoyed doing something different and I’m going to search out more potentially awkward activities for the pure hell of it.