In January of this year (2019) I experienced something “out of the ordinary.” As a user of an app called Meetup I often find myself trying new things. Meetup is an app/website in which users can find a wide range of events and activities in their local town or city. Everything from sports and business to social and educational interests are catered for on Meetup. Generally it’s a good app that offers lots of diversity as well as inspiration for getting out and meeting new people.
So, a few months ago whilst browsing through Meetup I stumbled upon a weekly event called Laughter Yoga and it would be fair to say that it caught my attention. According to their pamphlet; “Laughter yoga is based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter.” Upon reading this philosophy I was intrigued. In all my life I had never heard of laughter yoga nor had I ever considered the possibility that false laughter could be anywhere near as orgasmic as hilarity itself. The pamphlet also suggested that laughter yoga is exotically known as hasyayoga which is a title that further charmed me with it’s medicinal Latin phonetics. I was finally sold whereafter it was revealed to me that the ingredients of laughter yoga consist of “laughing games.” I thought to myself; “I love laughing. I relish in the uproarious sensation of rib-tickling laughter. What the hell is laughter yoga (hasyayoga)? What the hell are laughing games? What in God’s name might I have been missing out on my whole life and could this be the most uplifting form of esoteric entertainment to which I am a cardinal virgin?” All of the laugh-out-loud possibilities got the better of me and thus a prime time undercover investigation was initiated.
On a mild Friday evening I set off on my quest to discover hasyayoga at a venue called The Clockwork Door in Temple Bar. I entered the building and asked the quasi-receptionist of the whereabouts for the laughter yoga class, he directed me through a door and into a room where a small group of people were gathering. I introduced myself (as you do) and after a few minutes the full complement of laughter yogis had arrived and it was finally time to immerse myself into this abyss of undiscovered existence. Little did I know that the following sixty minutes would shock me into incredulity to the extent that I would be left asking myself “what the f**k just happened there?”
At the start of the session the group of approximately fourteen people (including myself) were seated on cushions in a circle. There was a sense of hippiedom lingering in the air however I was ready to experience something new and so I kept an open-mind for what was about to come. Our host and “expert laughter yogi” introduced himself as Dave and thence asked each of us to state our names before proceeding to expound the dynamics of laughter yoga and laughter games. From thereon it got weird beyond belief!
It turns out that laughter games and laughter yoga involve sitting around with these deranged – and that’s what they were – deranged hippies who are happy-clappy treehugging type people. You sit in a circle and pretend to laugh. You point at the wall and pretend to laugh. Then you jump up and down like an eejit while pretending to laugh. Then you stand in the middle of a circle and everybody points at you and pretends to laugh and this is the sort of mad caper that you indulge in for one hour. I felt that this was totally ridiculous and stupid. It struck me as an outrageous activity that was just made up out of thin air and unlike the hippies at Woodstock who got high on LSD the hippies at Laughter Yoga were all stoned out of their brains on fresh air. What a deranged and ludicrous experience it was.
When the session had ended I wasted no time in making myself scarce. I was crimsoned with embarrassment because the whole experience had been so utterly corny and discomforting and as far as I can see there are absolutely no therapeutic benefits to be reaped from participating in the “cultish” engagements of laughter yoga. I’d actually go as far as saying that for individuals who might feel somewhat insecure laughter yoga could send such a person on a downward spiral to an existential crisis. The happy-clappers who perpetuate their high via hasyayoga must be totally delusional because one would have to be so far out of touch in order to relish in such nonsense.
So – that was my experience with laughter yoga. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?