The Jakarta Post
Movements in laughter yoga sessions are easy to follow, even for those with no yoga experience. (Shutterstock/My Good Images)
As someone who favors gloom over delight, laughing is rarely something I enjoy doing.
There’s an old Indonesian saying that goes, “Don’t laugh too much, otherwise you’ll be crying later on”. Though I try not to believe it, this saying stays on my mind and keeps me from laughing too much because there’s a small part of me that is afraid that I’ll be shedding tears afterwards.
With that in mind, when I was invited to join a session of laughter yoga, also known as hasya, in the Amankila resort in East Bali, I made the firm decision not to get carried away by the situation.
The morning session was held on one of the resort’s pavilions, which overlooked the Lombok Strait. To reach the pavilion, we walked along a stone path surrounded by beach vegetation and shaded by coconut trees. Strolling along the path, I could hear waves crashing on the shore and birds chirping in the trees.
Several black mats had been laid on the floor of the pavilion, each equipped with yoga blocks.
The resort’s resident yoga guru, Eka Sukma Putra, approached after each of us settled on our mats. In an all-white outfit, he flashed a broad smile. Then he began to laugh.
The sound of his laugh was unforgettable. It was deep -- with a steady tempo -- and was unexpectedly contagious. Several participants began to smile, which led to chuckles and ended with small laughs.
While standing in front of us, Eka took us on our laughing yoga journey which included pawanmuktasana (wind-relieving pose) and surya namaskar (sun salutation, one of the 12 basic yoga poses) with regulated breath. Sometimes Eka’s laughter was heard in the transition between one pose to another.
The movements were easy to follow even for those who had no yoga experience. We did not feel forced to laugh or to excel in certain poses because Eka made us comfortable throughout the session.
We had almost reached the end of the session by the time I began to giggle and then to laugh. My movements came to a temporary stop as I hid my face with my hands. I was too shy and happy, although I did not know why I was laughing.
Drenched in sweat, we concluded the approximately two-hour session with a mediation session that sought to balance our body and soul and bring forth inner peace.
“It’s good to cry because you’re laughing too much,” Eka said after our session, answering my doubt. “It’s because our brains release endorphins [the hormone that helps relieve pain naturally] when we’re crying. People who are overly happy can cry as well.”
Eka, who has worked at Amankila for about 10 years, said that laughing yoga was developed by a doctor from India named Madan Kataria. It can be done by anyone, and Eka recommends a session of about five minutes daily.
Yoga may sound intimidating to those who believe they lack flexibility or are afraid that the poses will be difficult. This is where laughing is useful.
“Laughing can help release all the tension so they will move more comfortably,” Eka said.
For those who struggle to laugh without being stimulated by comedy films or funny incidents, Eka suggested trying to laugh at themselves in front of a mirror. “Any kind of laughter is fine as long as we’re laughing,” he added.
The session changed my perspective on laughing. I felt both physically and mentally refreshed and was ready to face the day with a more positive mindset. (kes)