Laughter Yoga is a unique exercise routine, which combines unconditional laughter with
yogic breathing (PRANAYAMA). Anyone can laugh without relying on humour, jokes or
comedy. Laughter is initially simulated as a physical exercise while maintaining eye
contact with others in the group and promoting childlike playfulness. In most cases this
soon leads to real and contagious laughter. Science has proved that the body cannot
differentiate between simulated and real laughter.
Laughter Yoga is the only technique that allows adults to achieve sustained hearty
laughter without involving cognitive thought. It bypasses the intellectual systems that
normally act as a brake on natural laughter.
Laughter Yoga sessions start with gentle warm-up techniques which include stretching,
chanting, clapping and body movement. These help break down inhibitions and develop
feelings of childlike playfulness. Breathing exercises are used to prepare the lungs for
laughter, followed by a series of ‘laughter exercises’ that combine the method of acting
and visualization techniques with playfulness.
These exercises, when combined with the strong social dynamics of group behavior, lead
to prolonged and hearty unconditional laughter. Laughter exercises are interspersed with
breathing exercises. Scientifically it has been proved that twenty minutes of laughter is
sufficient to develop full physiological benefits.
A Laughter Yoga session may finish with ‘laughter meditation’. This is a session of
unstructured laughter whereby participants sit or lie down and allow natural laughter to
flow from within us like a fountain. This is a powerful experience that often leads to a
healthy emotional catharsis and also a feeling of release and joyfulness that can last for
days. This can be followed by guided relaxation exercises.
Laughter Yoga is normally performed in a group under the direction of a trained and
certified Laughter Yoga leader. No special clothing or equipment is required although
comfortable clothes that allow free movement are recommended. It can be practiced
almost anywhere, but be heedful that the loud noise does not disturb others. Laughter
meditation is best enjoyed in a quiet private place where one can sit or lie down comfortably.
Laughter Yoga Explained by the founder Dr Madan Kataria