The first “official” yoga class I ever took was in 2001 at a gym that I was working at as a receptionist. I had done yoga before (we all have in one way or another), but never in a class setting. One of the other girls I worked with convinced me to try it with her so I thought I would give it a try. Now as you will get to know, if you don’t know me already, I can be a little silly, I can neglect to take serious things seriously, and I can laugh in inappropriate situations. This yoga class was one of those inappropriate situations. I don’t remember if I had downed three shots of espresso prior to this class or if I was just in a goofy mood, but I just could NOT stop laughing! Not only that, but my giggles became contagious and soon my friend was laughing too. Much to the chagrin of our teacher this display didn’t end anytime soon.
The class I attended that day was not intended as a laughter yoga class, but as you may have heard, such a thing exists. According to the website for Laughter Yoga International, laughing yoga was the brainchild of Dr. Madan Kataria, a Physician from Mumbai, India. She launched the first Laughter Club at a Park on March 13, 1995, with merely a handful of persons. Today, it has become a worldwide phenomenon with more than 6000 Social Laughter Clubs in about 60 countries.
I first tried a real laughter yoga class as part of the Camp Moomba Yogathon and Blissfest in Vancouver, B.C. in 2008. This yogathon was a lengthy class which encompassed the teaching of many different styles of yoga by a plethora of wonderful teachers. I remember feeling nervous before the laughter segment, questions kept popping into my head such as:
“Will I look stupid?”
“Will I be able to laugh?”
“Is this for real?”
“WILL I LOOK STUPID?”
The truth is, I probably DID look stupid, but so did the other 1500 people practicing along side me. Also, it was so much fun!! Being part of a class where you were instructed to do silly exercises and laugh, really brings back an element of childhood. A time when you didn’t care if you looked stupid and when laughter came easily. I have to admit that I really enjoyed that class and have done other laughter classes since. Including a segment of laughter yoga in my yoga teacher training program at Anamaya (which had the entire staff of the hotel in stitches as well).
The laughing classes have not always been successful in changing a funky mood, but they have ALWAYS been a source of enjoyment by taking me back to child-like play. I really believe that the majority of us, as adults are missing something. That spark from child-hood that leads to playing, pretending and just plain silliness. I highly recommend trying out a laughter yoga class to remind you to play and to enjoy the simple things in life such as laughter.