While you may have heard of popular yoga styles such as Ashtanga, Iyengar and Bikram, you may be unfamiliar with the lesser-known laughing yoga. After all, few studios in Singapore cater classes for it.
But much as there may be many different types of yoga, they are all meant to help you with the same thing: to be more mindful of your movement and breathing. And laughing yoga shares the very same goal.
It works the way it sounds—using laughter as a form of exercise—and with how laughter is known to help reduce stress and clear the mind, this style of yoga seems almost as easy as it is beneficial.
Out of sheer curiosity (and because we all needed a bit of a chuckle at the end of the day), some of of us at CLEO decided to head down to Jal Yoga at Alexandra Road for a class.
Our teacher for the day was Christine Plaud, who also teaches Yin and Kundalini yoga. Christine opened the class with a reminder that the most important thing we should do is breathe. She pointed out how, whether we’re feeling good or terrible, the first thing we do is breathe. We inhale. And in simply doing so, we allow ourselves to welcome more energy in.
She explained that the whole point of laughing yoga is so that we may breathe more. And that even though it may be impossible to laugh for an hour, we can try — and that we fake it till we make it if we have to.
“Jokes don’t work after a while. So we have to keeping up with games to tickle the inner child in us,” she said. “The thing is, whether fake laugh or laugh for real, the body doesn’t know the difference.”
But just what are these games? And more importantly, is laughing yoga “funny”? Scroll the gallery to see how our class went.
The session was attended by Li Yuan and Taphath from the art team and Karen and Hidayah from the features team. They were laughing about stuff before the class had even started — a good sign.
CLEO’s resident dude Syafii also came along to try and get a few laughs out.
Christine kicked off the class with some partner stretches that help get blood flowing better.
We also swung our arms around in the air to further stretch out the kinks.
For the first game we played, we had to make our fingertips touch and burst into laughter every time. OK, it was awkward at first, but if your partner is enthusiastic (like Syafii was) it quickly becomes easy to get into.
It was brilliant of Christine to have us play the games in pairs — the team was guffawing half the time because we couldn’t help laughing at one another. And that’s the whole point, right?
Another game had us sitting in a circle and throwing bouncy balls at one another. This created an opportunity for mischief, and all the sabo-ing just made us dissolve into giggles even more.
For the last game, we had to act like we just read a funny text message. Naturally, we were a bit unsure about acting this one out, but quickly started chortling when somebody started parading a funny picture on their screen.
Christine ended the class by getting us to lie on our backs and doing some air cycling exercises to warm down. We then laid in savasana for a couple of minutes as ambient music played softly in the background.
Laughing yoga may not be for everyone, but if you go for a class with an open mind, you’ll find yourself howling some genuine ha-has. Depending on your dynamics, it may be a good idea to go with people you know, but even if you don’t, you’ll surely end up making some friends — especially when you guys just spent an hour smiling at one another.
Here’s what some members on the team have to say about their experience:
“It’s actually quite hard to fake laugh. But the session was fun and I felt pretty refreshed after! I think it’ll make a good activity for team bonding.” – Li Yuan
“It was surprisingly fun and I loved that it didn’t involve much exercise. But unless you’re an extrovert, it may not be a class you’d do with strangers because it can get pretty awkward.” – Hidayah
“While I was apprehensive at first, there is something pretty liberating about the whole experience. The laughing really does tire you out, which might be why I enjoyed the meditation at the end the most. It was then that I felt like I had the opportunity to really clear my mind.” – Karen
“I liked the last part when we had to make noises to focus on our vibration within us. This will, in a weird way, make you tired but refreshed.” – Taphath