You probably thought I couldn’t get any loonier, what with the smart-lipo, fake hair and convertible car. But this morning I find myself on a beach in southern California, running towards the sea, clapping my hands and mimicking a sea-lion. This kind of behaviour is all perfectly normal at the Laguna Beach Laughter Yoga Club and I have to say, there are worse ways to start the day. (Maybe not for the sea-lion.)
I join a group of people who meet at 7.45 am every morning to laugh (it’s no laughing matter if you have to leave LA at 6am to get there in time.) The club is run by Jeffrey who has been a Yoga teacher for 34 years and laughing since 2005. He is 52 but doesn’t look a day over 40. Proof, if it was needed, that laughing is the cure for ageing. Mind you, he has a pretty nice life. Instead of staring at people’s armpits on the district line first thing; he watches dolphins leap in and out of the water from one of the prettiest beaches I have ever seen.
His laughter group varies in size from day to day but as far as I can make out there are four or five who come every day. One of them has a large family and has been known to show up with twelve of them on some days.
The idea is to laugh for your health, use it as an exercise. The benefits are huge; not just do you feel better by releasing endorphins, but laughing helps control high blood pressure, increase stamina, increases blood supply to internal organs and a host of other things. It’s also great for stress, which as we all know is a killer. So what are you waiting for?
Actually it’s quite hard work. I find after a while my face muscles start to ache, which just shows what a miserable type I must be. And I’ll be honest, at times I feel slightly foolish, like when three gorgeous, well-built, tanned, toned (not that I was looking) Laguna Beach lifeguards walk by dressed in tight navy blue shorts and T-shirts while I’m busy pretending to be a laughing lawn-mower. Believe me, it’s not a good look. But making a fool of yourself is not something you can think about if you’re in a Laughter Yoga class.
I am impressed with the group, and especially with Jeffrey who is refreshingly sane and good company for someone who spends hours a week on a beach laughing at nothing. They are all warm, welcoming and seem like a very nice bunch of people.
In fact my whole trip has been peppered with nice Americans. I’ve been so impressed at how open and friendly and generous they are. And now I’ve met a bunch of women with normal-sized breasts in Beverly Hills I think I could really fit in here. I might even start a Laughter Yoga Club on Venice Beach.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007