With thousands of laughter clubs across the United States alone, laughter yoga is seriously taking hold. It’s an infectious workout regime that helps you to stop taking things too seriously and to concentrate on the joyful side of life.
If you’d like to go laughing through the day, with all the benefits laughter brings, practice laughing yoga. Laughter is healthy – through the restoration of laughter, people regain happiness all too easily repressed in our serious, somber and speedy modern world. Here is how to get started in Laughter Yoga.
Laughter Yoga was started by Dr. Madan Kataria in 1995. It combines gentle yoga breathing (Pranayama), stretching, and simulated unconditional laughter. When the laughter is practiced in a group setting, the laughter soon becomes genuine. Some of the benefits from laughter and Laughter Yoga include:
- Health benefits: The health benefits of laughter are extensive. After laughing, the positive effects of laughter last up to 45 minutes, benefiting the cardiovascular system and reducing blood pressure; indeed, studies have shown that people suffering from heart disease are 40 percent less likely to laugh in many situations compared to people without heart disease. Laughter even speeds healing.
- Stress relief: Laughter is a means to reduce anxiety and stress, as well as fostering a positive attitude and feeling of happiness. Within minutes of laughing, stress levels drop.
- It’s an aerobic workout. Laughter Yoga workouts are good for your heart, diaphragm, abdominal, intercostal, respiratory, and facial muscles. As part of the “workout,” endorphins are released, giving you a sense of well-being.
- It restores playfulness in your life. Children laugh up to 300-400 times a day during their formative years, and this reduces to 10-15 times a day as an adult.
- Laughter can make you more attractive to others, improving your communication and relationships.
Accept that you don’t need a reason to laugh – just start laughing.
Perform the Laughter Yoga exercises. The following steps will explain the Laughter Yoga exercises that make up each class or session. Your teacher or group may develop their own variants, but these basics are standard and knowing them will help you to practice at home as well as within the group.
Clap your hands in front of the heart chakra.
- Focus on your stomach and laugh – “Ho, ho.”
- Focus on your chest and laugh – “Ha ha.”
- Change constantly between your abdomen and your chest up and down, and shout, “Ho ho, Ha ha, Ho ho.”
Lay your hands on your head.
Laugh inside your head “He he he,” to clean your head of tension.
- Then lay your hands on your chest and shout “Ha ha ha”.
- Lay your hands on your stomach and yell “Ho ho ho”.
- Concentrate on your feet and trample with your feet on the ground, saying – “Hu hu hu.”
Do the laughing wave.
Bow your upper body to the earth. Have your hands facing down. Focus on the ground. Send your hands upward to heaven. Wail like a siren: “Ha ha ha ha.” Perform the laughing wave several times. Through your laughter, connect heaven and earth.
Do the welcome laughter.
Within a group, keep eye contact and laugh, until all people in the group are happy. At home, look in the mirror and welcome yourself. When you look into the mirror there is always something to laugh about.
Extend your hands to heaven.
Concentrate on your chest and laugh “Ha ha ha” for a minute.
Think the mantra:
“May all beings be happy. Let there be a world of laughing.” See all people in the world and see ourselves as laughing Buddhas, laughing gods, or laughing holinesses.
Sing the Om Song.
At the end of your Laughter Yoga, sing the mantra “Om” for one minute. Sing it with your own melody. Sense in which part of your body the Om resonates best. Sing the Om until you are calm. Then proceed optimistically through your day.
- Laughter Yoga is suitable for everyone, but it will be of especial benefit to people under high pressure and who are stressed or unwell.
- You don’t need a yoga mat, or yoga gear. Just comfortable clothing that allows you to laugh!
- Laughter clubs are usually free, non-profit, non-political, non-religious, and are run by volunteers.The most you should expect to be charged is costs coverage for venue hire, or similar overheads.
- Laughter Yoga is also known as “instant yoga” as it is thought to bring about changes much more rapidly than normal yoga.
- Do not laugh at others, only with them. Prefer jokes about yourself in place of humiliating another person for the sake of a joke.
- Let go and enjoy this healthy activity.
Adapted from How to Do Laughter Yoga.