What Is Laughter Yoga?
Laughter Yoga is a unique exercise routine which combines unconditional laughter with yogic breathing (Pranayama). Anyone can laugh without relying on humor, 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 prolong and hearty unconditional laughter. Laughter exercises are interspersed with breathing exercises. Scientifically it has been proved that 20 minutes of laughter is sufficient to develop full physiological benefits. A Laughter Yoga session may finish with ‘Laughter Meditation’ which is a session of unstructured laughter whereby participants sit or lie down and allow natural laughter to flow from within 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 is generally followed by guided relaxation exercises.