Alicia Dattner leads laughter yoga every week..
I have seen a lot of standup comedy. I have seen thousands of comedians perform in the last dozen years. And I've performed somewhere between one thousand and two thousand times… What did that do for me? I laughed a lot.
But I also got pretty jaded and, well, admittedly, a little bitter. I got so into analyzing the jokes, comparing comedians, cataloging bits, and thinking about what makes the funny… I stopped really laughing after a while. When I did laugh, it was either kind of fake, or just a smile… a "that's clever" smile. I lost the actual pleasure I went into comedy for in the first place. The physical sensation of uncontrollable paroxyms shaking my body. The sense of being totally powerless, driven to pleasure. An itchy sort of pleasure… Joke-tellers are tickling your mind.
The only way I truly find that uncontrollable laughter these days is watching reruns of America's Funniest Home Videos on Youtube. I consider myself a relatively intellectual person with relatively refined tastes… But something about watching people fall while dancing, get kicked in the groin,houses fall over, pants falling off… It kills me! Something to do with shutting of my brain and letting my limbic system take over. I laugh so hard that I start to cry–and then I'm bawling and laughing, tears, drool, happy and sad,gleaning some perspective on this short, crazy life we fall into and are pulled from… It's very spiritual. But I decided there has to be another way to get my rocks off like that.
What's a comic to do? Laughter Yoga. Of course! When I returned from traveling in India last year, I resolved to become a certified Laughter Yoga leader. I trained with Lydia Gonzalez, who trained with the Indian inventor of Laughter Yoga, Dr. Madan Kataria. And now I lead Laughter Yoga every Tuesday in Dolores Park.
What the heck is Laughter Yoga? Do you hold poses and laugh? Yeah… but mostly we just bounce around and giggle. Shut off the brain. We laugh for no reason, we act like idiots, we roll down hills, we do yogic breathing, sun salutations… It's great. Plus, did you know that laughing reduces hunger cravings? I just read it in a study!
Wanna come? It's Tuesdays at 6:00 pm in Dolores Park, at 19th Street, on the East side, just to the left of the steps. Look for the sandwich board sign and silly people. Suggested donation $10. You can sign up in advance at eventbrite.