Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Four Unfunny Truths About Laughter Yoga

I went to laughter yoga the other night, I guess because I live in a big city and sometimes wear stretchy pants in the street and pretty regularly force-feed myself kale.

Regular yoga is no longer the cure-all for your out-of-balance, toxins-infested mind-body; the cure-all is laughter yoga. Basically, laughter yoga is the new method for scrubbing out our dirty bodies and changing our brain chemistry and banishing sadness and stress from everyone. Forever.

The idea is that laughing is good for you (science says so, after all), and that pretending to laugh can be just as good for your health and wellbeing as actual laughing. So that’s what you do, in laughter yoga. You pretend—force yourself, even—to laugh. For an hour.

Here is what I learned at laughter yoga.

1. There is no yoga in laughter yoga.

I think I have a pretty forgiving definition of what yoga is (like, taking deep breaths when you’re trying not to punch people on the subway is clearly yoga), but standing in the dimly-lit “party room” of someone’s condo with a handful of kooky middle-aged ladies (respect), and forcing yourself to cackle maniacally at literally nothing for a full hour is just unsettling. It’s like the humiliating improv unit in high school drama class, but this time you paid money for it and everyone is 30 years older. My chakras are still unaligned.

2. I am a bad person.

The only times during class that I let forth genuine, from-the-belly guffaws (and not the unsettling alien cackles and donkey brays that apparently emerge when I’m forced to laugh nonstop for 60 minutes straight), were when I made eye contact with the friend I’d come to class with. We were made to mime throwing milkshakes at people, and we lost it. We were asked to yuk it up over an imaginary Visa bill, and I caught her eye and went into convulsions.

This laughter felt less curative and more of the where-are-we-make-it-stop-let’s-never speak-of-this-again variety, but it was therapeutic nonetheless.

3. I am incapable of hiding my inner darkness.

I thought I’d done an OK good job of concealing my black thoughts, but on the way home from class my friend was like, “I kept looking over at you and thinking, ‘Jodie so wants to kill herself right now.’”

4. I’m uncomfortable with catharsis.

Toward the end of the class, we had to clutch at either real or pretend physical ailments and hobble around laughing. The idea to embrace a fuck you, you don’t own me approach to pain.

I watched an eccentric older lady, five-foot-nothing, beset with wrinkles and quite round, shriek with laughter as she pressed her hands to her stooped, ostensibly aching back. My eyes welled up. I was suddenly struck by the profound beauty of it all, which was followed by a sense of empowerment.

And then, swiftly, shame.



Photo via ffscsw/flickr.

Jodie Shupac is a reluctant millennial. More importantly, she's a freelance writer who lives in Toronto.

28 Comments / Post A Comment


Let me tell you a story about laughter yoga!

I had moved back to a city I didn't particularly want to live in because my boyfriend at the time had insisted on it. I had moved in with his parents (see above). I was biding my time before starting law school, but "time" was 8 months, and I was kind of terrified of the impending misery (I should have been).

I had a new job, as a personal assistant to a psychiatrist, who would turn out to be by far the craziest man I have ever met. It was my first day. I was pretty jet-lagged, and tired, and off-kilter. I spent the day with my new boss, and it was pretty strange, and then he was like "come to laughter yoga with me!", which of course I did because new job etc.

I had all the same feelings as the writer, together with a deep sense of dread and wrongness arising out of all my life's situations. At the end, we were all lying on the floor looking at the ceiling and "laughing" and I just starting weeping, letting everyone think I was laughing, big tears rolling down toward the floor. It was my only genuine expression of emotion in that entire hour.


Oh God. YES. Love this@y

Briony Fields

A full HOUR of laughing? Chill, yogis. Nobody can laugh that long.

I once went to hot yoga, and they did a five minute laughing thing at the end. We had to lay on our mats and fake laugh to start. One of my friends began giggling before we even started, and after about 10 seconds of fake laughing we all began cracking up hysterically at how stupid we sounded and couldn't stop. Funniest five minutes of my life! I'm laughing now at the memory. Tee hee.

lasso tabasco

What. No, just... no. WHAT WILL THEY COME UP WITH NEXT? I would probably do this for the story though. It sounds terrifying and awkward.




@607390223@twitter If you consider them an exercise in laughter yoga, these spam comments get a lot funnier.


Psst... I think that first #3 is supposed to be a #2.

...or maybe I'm supposed to imagine a world where the number 2 does not exist and laugh about it? (It is pretty funny, up there with throwing milkshakes at things)


I used to sometimes go to my college's laughter yoga club meetings. It was certainly an experience.


Wouldn't an hour of relentless tickling be more straightforward?


@IanG I originally read this as "an hour of licking" but..you know, whatever works I guess!


@Olivia2.0 That would potentially have any number of effects but robust laughter may not be among them...

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