Jivamukti Yoga : Laughter Yoga opening hearts and minds in New York

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Last Updated on July 5, 2020 by Christine Kaaloa

Soho, New York
Soho, New York . Photo: Creative Commons Pixabay


Living in Manhattan is electric!

My favorite deli is across the street from my 50th street New York apartment  and if its not my favorite today, then I can find my “next best” a block further away.

New York is a pushy and dizzying city to balance in

Central Park (for me) is only a 10 minute walk, there is Halal street food on my way. Everything from a manicure, all my favorite ethnic food restaurants, theaters, 5th Avenue, Soho, Union Sare are all at my fingertips and but a 5-15 minute subway ride radius…if you’re a Manhattanite!  Read my New York travel guide

While there’s a convenience to living in the world’s central buzz, there can also be daily imbalance in your lifestyle when you’re surrounded with this kind of wattage 24/7! The noise,  panhandlers camped out in the subways,  ambitious skyscrapers blocking your view of the sky, morning crowds race-walking to work like zombies pushing and shoving …and the endless treadmill “to do lists”!  Whew! On some days, I feel like i’m a swollen head of run-on thoughts. On other days, I’m a robotic body set on autopilot to react on commands like “push“, “dodge“,” protect“, “defend“, “fight“, “go“. A top can’t spin properly without a heart center and sometimes, that’s the one missing facet in a day that ties it all together.

Whenever I feel I am getting too lop-sided or wobbly, I return to my yoga practice for restorative maintenance and well-integrated wholeness.

BEst things to do in New York City, New York Travel Guide, Top attractions in New York city, planning a trip to New York city
Jaywalking is common in New York, Photo: Pexels, Creative Commons

Finding the yoga of laughter at Jivamukti Yoga

Jivamukti Yoga at Union Square offers me great ashtanga-based heart pumping action at $15/class. Jivamukti yoga is a practice I discovered living here. Walking into the yoga lair, you’re invited into a chic boutique space with shop, cafe, and a few yoga rooms for classes. The space is scented with light oils and peppermint fragrances, making it easily one of the best yoga studio in New York. It espouses fairly radical Indian yoga practices, advocating vegan and vegetarian yogic lifestyles. It might be the nearest you can get to an ashram in India.

It smells of everything green, earthy, serene and tri-bodily (spirit-mind-body) healthy! Pleasant incensed scents and gentle aromas of delectable foods from the cafe tone the halls which sound of chanted Oms.

Each month, Jivamukti yoga has a focus for your practice and lifestyle challenge.  This month’s focus is Laughter as Yogic Practice.

Laughter Yoga is good medicine.

Laughter yoga is an actual yoga. We spend our time recycling the same thoughts each day and this subtext becomes an unconscious mantra. We accidentally set the pattern of our lifestyles into it.  Feelings of lack, negative self-images, stress, self-doubt, worry, fear…it becomes engrained in our bodies. Negativity sets into our body memory, muscles, joints and the shock solidifies. It tightens the more energy we put into it.  Laughter helps expel this tightened unhappiness, by loosening up the compacted energy.  Laughter jogs our hearts by living joy in the present.

At my 6:45P yoga class, we were deeply into our asanas, as our teacher spoke about laughter yoga. Some postures are easy to hold ; others take EXTRA DETERMINATION.  Then our teacher cried out ~ “Standing Split”!

Ugh. My body groaned. My thoughts started whining… I knew I couldn’t be alone in this. This posture of doing a one-legged standing balance, as the other leg extends upward into a vertical split is not a fun posture, especially for those who can barely get their legs to form an “L”!  As the command for standing split went out, I heard a nervous male laugh from the back of the class.  It was the equivalent of a groan turned into a laughter filled with desperation of wanting to believe there was joy in this posture.  The entire class burst into an uproar. Magically, the difficulty and physical torture was replaced with joyful giggles rippling throughout bodies. The elation carried me through several more challenging poses.

Humor is hard to find in difficult situations. This is when we need it even more.

If we do not seek out the humor that presents itself in daily life or crucial situations, we miss a big part of the joy that comes in experiencing each new adventure.  If you travel, and experiencing the “foreign” feels uncomfortable, its should. It might even feel challenging.

As a solo traveler in a new land, EXPECT to feel vulnerable.  As you encounter obstacles, deal with travel scams, getting lost, getting sick…  your body tenses and tightens and we forget that this is part of the traveling experience we paid for. This is the adventure we bought.

Find humor in every situation.

It IS there and the potential to laugh almost always exists in some form- even amidst fear, frustration, exasperation, etc… Yoga laughter exists in the darkest of hours. You simply need to look for it.

As a first time female solo traveler in Varanasi, I was shocked at how a chicken-legged Varanasi rickshaw driver left me stranded in a nowhere neighborhood out of spite for having haggled him down to a local price. Varanasi was my first Indian city I was traveling solo in. I certainly had second thoughts upon arrival and I experienced my first boat cruise scam. Now this!

But a part of me had to laugh. I was also  thinking how i couldn’t wait to tell my friends and family how I was left high and dry by a rickshaw driver who screwed me.

Humor exists. It’s not always “funny ha-ha”, but its there.

Fake it and just spontaneously LAUGH!

Chuckle to yourself silently or go ballistic like some crazy person. Try it. Even if you don’t find anything funny. In  spontaneous laughter yoga, dispelling hypothetically worry, stress and negative things! If you can create fear and worry in your body, you can create laughter.

Since my yoga class, i’ve been applying laughter to a lot of things outside of my yoga practice. When a specific worry or concern arises…I chuckle falsely. My heart pumps laughter into my system and erases all the negatives that need not be. The worries and stress fall away and I am left feeling free to enjoy the rest of my day.

Yoga Information:

Jivamukti Yoga New York
841 Broadway, 2nd Floor

Laughter yoga International

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