Laughing yoga

Pablo Neruda said that laughter is the language of the soul, but did he know it was the workout of the soul (and body) as well? Led by the woman behind the infamous U-Bahn crack-up, Laughter Yoga classes take place here in Berlin.

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Photo by Marta Dominguez

It’s another rainy winter evening on the U-Bahn. Suddenly, a woman starts to laugh her head off – all by herself. Another person follows suit on the other end of the carriage. Then another. And another. Eventually, the whole carriage (minus two or three sceptics) is howling. This laughter flash mob, organised two years ago by a bunch of Laughing Yoga addicts, soon made its way onto Youtube. Its message: like a virus – or a viral video – laughter is contagious. But unlike a virus, it’s good for you.

“Laughter releases happiness hormones, such as endorphins, and it lowers stress hormones. It massages the abdominal organs and benefits the body as much as jogging does,” explains Siegrid Pohl-Häußler, one of the gurus of Lachen Verbindet, the organisation behind the U-Bahn crackup.

The youthful 60-something teaches laughter yoga – a practice that combines yogic breathing technique with unrestricted laughter. For a mere €5 you can join her Monday session in Alt-Mariendorf or her outdoor monthly meeting in the Tiergarten alongside a wide array of participants from actors to old pensioners to students.

Pohl-Häußler has worn purple for the last two years: “I like to remain colourful,” she exclaims. Colourful indeed. She considers laughter the best cure for everything, and how can you not trust a person with purple, pink and turquoise hair?