Much as I loved my Senior Citizens yoga the other morning, I was still keen to check out the Laughing variety so this morning I once more got up with the crows (the even earlier crows) and headed for South Mumbai’s Chowpatty Beach.
Unfortunately I left my phone behind and my map and forgot to find out exactly where on Chowpatty Beach the yoga was taking place so it wasn’t my cleverest morning ever. What can I say? My brain just doesn’t work that sharply at 6am.
I clomped up and down the sand on the somewhat vast city oceanfront, the sun coming up behind me, looking for people who might be on the verge of laughing.
A lot of them weren’t.
But then in the distance I saw a small group move from the shade of a tree out into the sun and put their bags in the sand, slowly forming a loose circle around them.
It was either Hammersmith Odeon circa 1989 and the DJ was about to play Yaz or I’d found the Priyadarshani Laughter Club!
“Join us, join us!” cried a lovely, smiling woman in a pink sari, drawing me into the circle as I approached. The club leader Kishore Kuvavala, chairman of the international club and a multiple laughter record-holder, introduced himself, then me, then we started our yoga with a robust round of “ha ha ha, he he he”.
But laughing is a serious matter and you need to be in good shape for it so before we laughed any more, we did some exercises. They were significantly less Senior Citizens-oriented than earlier in the week, in fact bits of me are throbbing slightly as I write, but it was not the hard-core ouchfest yoga that I have stopped going to back home.
And every few exercises I had to stop and just marvel at the fact I was bending on a beach with a group of smiling Indians, the sun still rising above us and the sea shimmering across the sand. Mumbai is still quite peaceful at that hour of the morning, the major horn honking is still an hour or so away, and the sun was hot, but deliciously, not awfully.
“Left, I said left,” Kishore would say, getting the whole circle to bend in the same direction. “Right, I said right.”
After a while we split into pairs. Being the new, tall, pale girl I was dragged into the middle of the circle to be Kishore’s partner. Normally this would embarrass the heck out of me but at Laughter Yoga there doesn’t seem to be any embarrassment. Under Kishore’s instruction we pulled and tugged and pushed and stretched each other in a way not usually associated with a first meeting but extremely pleasing nonetheless.
Then it was time for the laughter.
We started with more ha-ing and he-ing, then moved into the welcome laugh, the complaining laugh, the apology laugh, the Chinese-Japanese laugh, the mirror laugh, the Mumbai laugh and then the loud as you possibly can laugh.
All the time you’re laughing, you’re making eye contact around the circle with the other laughers. It is, of course, unbelievably jolly, and before you know it you’re just laughing for no reason other than because everyone else is and it feels so good.
We finished up with a quick prayer, a few “ommm”s and a round of high-fives before I said my good-byes, promising to return, which I will.
I usually start my morning with a coffee but I must say, laughing on a beach in the Mumbai morning sunshine beats that hands down. Ha ha ha! He he he!