Laughter Yoga in a Nutshell

Laughter Yoga in a Nutshell

Article by Marelisa Fabrega

“Mirth is God’s medicine. Everybody aught to bathe in it” — Henry Ward Beecher

Hasya or Laughter Yoga (“Hasya” means laughter in Sanskrit) is an alternative healing technique that consists of exercises designed to get people to laugh for no reason, combined with simple yoga breathing techniques. It uses a blend of playful and tension-releasing laughter exercises to improve health, reduce stress, and increase feelings of wellbeing. Every day new studies are being published on the myriad physiological and psychological benefits of laughter, and Laughter Yoga can help anyone partake of these benefits.

Laughter exercises, even if begun by faking it, almost always lead to real laughter, especially when done in a group. However, research has shown that simulated laughter creates the same physiological response in the body as spontaneous laughter. So even if you’re faking it when you laugh, your body does not know the difference. Therefore, you don’t need to be happy to laugh and you don’t need to have a reason to laugh; even fake laughter can help relieve stress and bolster your mood.

Laughter Yoga encourages unconditional laughter: it’s possible for adults to laugh like children without the use of jokes, humor, or comedy. In a Laughter Yoga session you won’t find people sitting in a circle taking turns telling jokes or using humor to make each other laugh. Instead, a session of Laughter Yoga consists of a series of exercises which include yoga breathing, funny gestures, systematic giggling and guffawing, and improv-like activities.

A Laughter Yoga session will probably begin with rhythmic clapping and chanting of “Ho-Ho-Ha-Ha-Ha” in unison, followed by a mixture of stretching, breathing, and silliness. Some of the exercises typical of a Laughter Yoga session are the following:

– People wandering around with their hands in the air, laughing hysterically.

– People of all ages squawking like chickens.

– Men and women rotating their hips while talking gibberish.

– Improv-style exercises such as playing on an imaginary swing set; flapping your arms and squealing like a seagull; and sitting in an imaginary rocket ship getting ready for take-off.

– At one point you walk around to different people with palms pressed together at the upper chest in the Namaste greeting–place the hands together at the heart chakra, close the eyes and bow the head–or shake hands and laugh, making sure to look into other people’s eyes.

– A popular exercise is “Lion Laughter”: thrust out the tongue, widen the eyes, and stretch the hands out like claws while laughing.

– Another improv-style exercise is Airport Laughter: people pretend they’re at the airport and are late for check-in, running around with their bags.

– There’s also Regal Laughter: each person takes turns walking like a king or queen between two rows of applauding subjects.

– If the group of people has become comfortable with each other, you can come closer and hold each others’ hands or hug and laugh.

All of these seemingly whacky exercises are meant to induce laughter to help participants combat stress and boost their immune system. Laughter Yoga is currently practiced by over 250,000 people in more than 50 countries worldwide. Find a Laughter Club near you and join them.

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From Marelisa Fábrega, Founder and CEO of

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