Just got back from exercise class. My lungs loosened up and made me cough a bit. My stomach muscles feel a little tight, and come to think of it my jaw does too. It must have been the part when we pretended to be balloons deflating and phlllbbbbbbed our way to the floor. Or was it the bit when we lay on our backs and pretended to be karate caterpillars all in a line? Maybe, that was a strenuous one. Even for a group of adults.
Several weeks ago I was walking home alone after having dinner with friends, baklava in hand, when samba drums drew me toward a building I’d never inspected before. It was lit up and people mingled inside among colorful paintings. Others flooded in the front doors implying the start of a new show soon. “What’s the show?” I asked a man waiting outside. “Don’t know. My daughter bought the tickets. I think it has ukuleles.” Enough to lure me through the doorway. “What’s the show?” I ask the woman behind me in line. “Well, I think it’s a comedy group from Europe.” OK definitely can’t leave the line now. By the time I reach the ticket counter it has officially become two folk bands. True to my informers though, the first did have several ukuleles and had us all chuckling with their stories from a folk festival in Ukistan. During the break the lady next to me (who snorts loudly when she laughs) says, “You have a great laugh! You should come to Laughing Yoga!”
It’s been three weeks of anticipation and in the meantime I collected a couple curious friends. We arrived in the parking lot and a poster informed us we were actually 30 minutes late. Determined to laugh (even if succinctly), we followed the multiple signs with arrows: “Laughter Club this way” and ended out at a glass door through which we could see a group of serious-looking people in a circle. Despite our tardiness, they invited us in and then laughed at us when we told them our names.
The “exercises” we did were something like preschool. Or slumber parties. Or the goofy kid in class who always got in trouble for it. Except we were ALL the goofy kids: pretending to shove cream into our mouths, wagging our behinds to “Tsitsy Tsa,” making farting noises. No. Really. And, it worked, I laughed until my face was red and I had to take off my scarf for air. Maybe it partly worked because your mind really can’t believe that they are doing this, wait, that you are doing this. It’s an odd collection of people that may never stand in the same room together otherwise. Some chanting thanks for their colorful lips, others for their firm butt, elbows, knees, blood. But at the end, we all held hands for our final affirmations: “We are the happiest people in the world. We are the healthiest people in the world.”
I doubt I’ll convince anyone else to return with me. I’m not totally sure I’ll convince myself. BUT, I am completely sold on the experience of allowing yourself to be blown off track. To let a drumbeat or an old lady give you a suggestion. If you’re lucky, you just might find ukuleles and belly laughter there.