A few years ago I realized that everything I strongly resist is part of my spiritual path. Laughter Yoga was one of my biggest resistances… And some days it still is!
The universe and I have an unspoken arrangement. When there’s something I need to know or a direction I need to move into, it gives me hints in rounds of three. Sometimes, the hints are far apart…
Back in early 2007 a friend of mine told me she did a Laughter Yoga training. I thought it sounded odd, not very yogic… too irreverent perhaps? Anyhow, as she was telling me how great it was, I tuned out. Apparently I was not ready yet.
Fast forward to late 2009. I had the privilege of taking the iRest Level 1 training with Richard Miller. One of the many wonderful things Richard discussed during the training was the importance of laughter. He told us that it was really important that we laugh everyday, even if there was no reason to laugh. Maybe there’s something to this laughter stuff after all?
In 2011 I had 4 students in two 200-Hr YTTs do projects on Laughter and Laughter Yoga… Hint taken!
In 2012 I did my Laughter Yoga Leader Certification. It was a very enjoyable training! Interestingly I had come up with many reasons not to do the training even after being the person who coordinated bringing in the teachers from Guelph. Thank goodness my husband knows me (and my patterns) well. He drove me to the training to make sure I went. Our Laughter group spent two days laughing, and it felt amazing. Duncan and Sue were such a joy to share the experience with – they are amazing!
The creator of Laughter Yoga is Dr. Madan Kataria, a medical doctor from Mumbai. He believed that laughter had many healing benefits and that people could improve their health through laughter. He learned that the body does not differentiate between real laughter and fake laughter. He also discovered that 10 to 20 minutes a day of laughter has profound health benefits.
I get asked a lot of questions about Laughter Yoga and I understand the intrigue. Laughter Yoga is a blend of laughter exercises (which encourage child like playfulness and movement), breathing exercises (for oxygenation), eye contact (which cultivates community) and finally laughter meditation. We can practice laughter on our own or in a group. There are thousands of Laughter Clubs all over the world. It is a very adaptable practice that can be done sitting in chairs or moving about a room, beach or park.
A typical session begins with clapping to get the energy moving, and chanting to get oxygenated. The most common mantra used is “HA HA HO HO HO”. We also use the clapping between exercises to reconnect with the group and to denote the end of an exercise. The laughter exercises themselves are fun and playful (inner child come on OUT!) to encourage us to laugh. In Laughter Yoga we don’t laugh at anyone or anything, we laugh for the sake of laughing. And if it’s not funny we fake it – after all, the body does not know the difference 😉
After every few laughter exercises we ground and center with full deep breaths. We eventually move into laughter meditation where participants are invited to explore laughter – either by listening to others laughing, or by exploring our own laughter. Then we end with some quiet integration time, which is very similar to savasana.
Another question I get asked is why I do Laughter Yoga. There are many reasons, and I’ve noticed the following:
For more information on the benefits of the practice, you can check out the official Laughter Yoga website. It lists things such as stress relief, increased oxygenation, healthy emotional expression and increased well-being.
If you are interested, we have Duncan and Sue coming June 4th & June 5th to facilitate the Laughter Yoga Leader Training where they will share their wisdom, knowledge, experience and laughter with us!
I can say more, however I believe the best thing I can do is recommend you go try Laughter Yoga… It’s like trying to describe chocolate; the best way to understand its awesomeness is by trying it!
Wishing you a day of love, light and laughter 🙂
Om Shantih and Prema (universal peace & love),