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.
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:
- I laugh more readily – life is funnier and as a result, more enjoyable. My laughter friend Tanya always talks about how life is basically one big laughter yoga exercise!
- I laugh more fully – which gives me some abdominal toning and cardio
- I can laugh at stress and frustration – which helps to relieve stress and frustration.
- It embodies me – nothing brings you back to earth and your body like a good belly laugh!
- It enhances my pranayama (breath and energy expansion) practice – since the training I do kapalabhati (the laughter pranayama) daily.
- It puts energy in motion (e-motions) – if you have any blocks, as soon as you start the practice you’ll know. It is a way of discovering where you are blocked, and the means to move that energy because Laughter is a wonderful energy release!
- You can shift the energy of a room in less than 10 mins – Since taking the training I use laughter yoga in the 200-Hr Yoga Teacher Trainings I facilitate and it’s been amazing – brings the group closer together (shared experience) and shifts the energy (ex: from after-lunch-food-coma to alert and ready to learn!).
- I feel fantastic after 🙂 It is really fun to play and afterwards I am grounded, centered, calm and happy <3
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.
I can say more, however I believe the best thing I can do is recommend you go try Laughter Yoga at your local laughter club. It’s like trying to describe chocolate; the best way to understand its awesomeness is by trying it!
Wishing you and yours a fabulous Holiday Season filled with love, light and laughter 🙂
Om Shantih and Prema (universal peace & love),