Are you a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader or Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher looking for advice on how to lead a Laughter Yoga session? Here I outline my top tips and tricks from leading Laughter Yoga for over a decade. Let’s dive in.
Probably the most important tip I can give is with introducing the exercise itself. Follow this formula for introducing the Laughter Yoga exercise and you can’t go wrong. First you say the name of the Laughter Yoga exercise. Next you show participants how the Laughter Yoga exercise looks while at the same time verbally explaining how to perform the Laughter Yoga exercise. And then lastly, you giving a clear concise command to start the exercise. You can read more about how to lead a Laughter Yoga exercise here.
It’s important that participants begin and end laughter exercises at the same time. As a leader, you want to signal that it is time to begin the exercise by giving a loud, clear, and concise command to start the exercise. Ensure that you give a clear command to begin the exercise. Without a clear indication to begin the exercise participants will not start the laughter exercise at the same time. Some may begin immediately, while others watch and wonder when — or if — they should join in. When I lead Laughter Yoga, my go to phrase to signal that it’s time to start the Laughter Yoga exercise is “Ready? Go!”
Ending exercises at the same time is equally important. Use one of the transitionary chants to end the laughter exercise. As a best practice, diversify the use of your transitionary chants. You may end some exercises with a HO HO HA HA HA chant and other exercises with a Very Good, Very Good, Yay Chant.
Knowing when to end a Laughter Yoga exercise is a facilitation skill that develops with practice. You want to allow enough time in a Laughter Yoga exercise for participants to explore and become playful, but not so much time that they become bored or fatigued. It’s all about finding this balance.
Some laughter exercises have more room for playful expression, so they naturally last longer. For instance, a themed laughter exercise like Party Laughter has lots of room for creative expression, as this exercise is really a combination of other exercises, like Greeting Laughter, Cell Phone Laughter, Milkshake Laughter, etc. On the other hand, a greeting exercise like Aloha Laughter, for instance, has less room for creative expression. Participants may only wish to greet several people before becoming bored or tired of the exercise.
Group size is also a factor to consider. Laughter exercises naturally last longer in larger groups because there are more people with whom to interact. In Laughter Yoga, the more people, the merrier! Watch the group. If your group responds well to an exercise and are enjoying the playful interaction, let it continue longer. Again, laughter exercise skills develop with practice so practice often.
Laughter exercise success is dependent upon joyful interaction. Continually remind participants to make eye contact and allow themselves to be playful when performing the laughter exercise — all while laughing. It’s good practice to include these reminders within the exercise description itself. For instance, when giving a command to perform Handshake Laughter, you might say something like this, “Alright gang, this next exercise is called Handshake Laughter. Greet your neighbors with a playful handshake while making eye contact and laughing with them laughing with you. Feel free to use one hand or two. Ready? Go!”
It may seem silly but you actually need to remind participants to laugh during the laughter exercises. In your verbal description of how to perform a laughter exercise, be sure to indicate that the action will be performed while laughing. It seems silly but it’s true, people need to be told to laugh in order to laugh. Too funny. And remember, in Laughter Yoga we laugh with others who are laughing with us. The action is never at and always with.
Lead by enthusiastic example by smiling and being an energetic leader. Remember, participants mirror the energy that you put out so put it out there! Open your mouth wider when you laugh and encourage participants to do the same. Opening the mouth wider helps you and your participants to experience laughter from the belly and enable the diaphragm to move up and down more easily.
Interact with each participant when performing the laughter exercises. Be a dynamic leader and move around the space. Even if you’re facilitating a seated session, feel free to get up out of your chair and move around as you laugh with each participant. Bend your knees and squat down so that you can be at eye level with the seated participant. This enables you to laugh with seated participants on their level rather than standing over them in a foreboding posture. If engaging in a standing Laughter Yoga session, invite participants to move and interact with one another.
You may need to give a gentle reminder to participants to move around the space. Tell them that in Laughter Yoga sessions there are no assigned spots and no need to stay in one position. The more that participants move around and interact with one another, the more quickly the laughter becomes genuine and contagious.
As the Certified Laughter Yoga Leader, you want to give continuous compliments to your group. However, avoid using “very good” as a compliment because sometimes group members will think you are beginning the “Very Good, Very Good, Yay!” chant. Use compliments like “excellent, great work” or whatever comes to you. Avoid correcting individual group members unless there is a safety concern. Give general corrections to the group as a whole. If needed, you can speak to a disruptive group member privately after the session has concluded.
Use best practices for selection and ordering of Laughter Yoga exercises. Since the idea of laughing without a mental stimulus such as a joke may seem strange to participants at first, help your participants to ease into laughter yoga with careful exercise selection. When beginning a Laughter Yoga session, a best practice is to select Laughter Yoga exercises that incorporate actions that participants are already familiar with so that adding laughter on top is not too much of a stretch for participants. For instance, exercises like Telephone Laughter or Waving Laughter are great introductory exercises because these exercises simply add laughter and playful interaction on top of already familiar actions.
A good Certified Laughter Yoga Leader varies the type and intensity of the laughter exercises, starting slow and building up, slowing down, and building up, and so on. Watch the group. This will show you if you need to modify the pacing and when to incorporate a breathing exercise. Always ary the three types of laughter exercises throughout the session.
Tips Specific to Leading Laughter Yoga on Zoom
Online Laughter Yoga Clubs on Zoom and other virtual meeting platforms have exploded in popularity during the COVID 19 pandemic. If you haven’t lead a Laughter Yoga session online, I totally recommend it! Before the pandemic I had been teaching Laughter Yoga numerous times a week for over a decade, but I had only taught in person. When the pandemic hit, I needed to quickly adapt, so I joined the online Laughter Clubs on Zoom and started my own Online Laughter Club that meets twice weekly. I’ve found that engaging in Laughter Yoga online is tons of fun! But there are a few things to keep in mind when leading your Laughter Yoga session on Zoom.
Use a wired internet connection if possible instead of a WIFI connection. You can even have a backup way to get on the internet, like a mobile hotspot. I have a mobile hotspot on my iPhone. I keep my phone handy just in case. If you have another laptop – or tablet or phone – keep it ready in case you run into problems.
Close any unnecessary applications. This will ensure that they don’t interfere your web conferencing software. Also shut off any other background activities that require a substantial amount of memory or bandwidth, such as downloading or uploading large.
Keep your background as simple as possible. Before you give an online presentation, look around at what’s behind you. Look around for messy tables in the background or other things that might not look good on camera. Can’t hide your clutter? Consider purchasing a backdrop. A green screen will enable you to adapt your background. It’s easy to set up and it works great at keeping the attention focused on you and not your background. You can also create a sophisticated virtual background using a green screen. Check out Canva’s free virtual backgrounds as an example. You can upload these designs to any video conferencing system that allows for customized backgrounds.
Level up your lighting. You can purchase great lights like these to up your lighting game. I use two of these at 45 degree angles and they work great. Plus, they are super portable if I want to take my vlog on the road.
At a minimum, face a window or other light source. Be sure that a window is not positioned directly behind you, or you will look like a dark and shadowy figure. If the lighting in your room is not great, set up a desk lamp behind your laptop, centered right over the camera to light up your face. For this to work well, minimize the lighting from other parts of the room by lowering the shades to prevent light coming from the side or the back.
We can’t always control ambient sound in your space (think: a neighbor’s leaf blower turning on during your big presentation). Consider how you can make your environment as quiet as possible. Close the windows. If you really want to take your presentations up a notch you can add an external microphone, a headset, or ear buds.
Stand up and immediately bring more energy to the Laughter Yoga session. Making the change from sitting down and giving your presentation to standing up and delivering your presentation will immediately bring more energy to your presentation. So stand up and bring enthusiasm to your session!
In order to stand and still connect with the viewer, you’ll need to raise your laptop higher so that the camera is in your direct eye line. Practice smiling and making a connection with the camera. Look into the camera lens. Imagine that the lens of your camera is a person. Imagine that as you look into the camera lens you are looking into that person’s eyes.
Position your camera about arm’s length away. Your head and shoulders should be visible and there should be a little bit of space about your head.
Speaker view or gallery view in Zoom? When I first begin a Laughter Yoga session, I sometimes like to put the view on speaker view at first. This enables to focus to be on me as I welcome the group members. I sometimes will keep the Speaker view going through the initial warm-up. Then I will put on the gallery view that shows the participants “Hollywood squares” style. This enables participants to make eye contact and be playful with one another, which helps the laughter to become genuine and contagious.
Worried about Zoom Bombers looking for trouble disrupting your session? Fortunately, the host can remove a participant by right clicking on their picture. The first thing I do when I open Zoom is click on the participants so that all of the participants will show up on the right hand of the screen. This enables me to easily mute or eject disruptive participants. Be sure to keep the default setting that only allows for the host to share computer screen content. If you are leading a large group, you can assign co-hosts to assist. Deal with trouble quickly by removing the disruptive individual and move on with your group.
Don’t let potential trouble makers or your own fear of failure stop you from leading Laughter Yoga. The first step is to get started. With practice comes familiarity and with familiarity comes mastery. So I encourage you to start leading sessions as soon as possible.
Learn How to Teach Laughter Yoga Directly from Celeste Greene — Online!
Not already a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader? If you want to learn how to teach Laughter Yoga, the first step is to get trained as a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader. The Laughter Yoga Leader certification is an internationally recognized certification from Laughter Yoga International and Dr. Madan Kataria, the founder of Laughter Yoga. Up until 2020, Dr. Madan Kataria only allowed Certified Laughter Yoga Leader Trainings to be facilitated in person. With the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, Dr. Kataria has blessed Certified Laughter Yoga Teachers to deliver the Certified Laughter Yoga Leader Trainings online.
This fun and comprehensive Certified Laughter Yoga Leader training is delivered as a hybrid learning model:
First, there are short video modules that you complete at your own pace. The comprehensive video training is delivered through a learning management system that checks your learning along the way and gives you feedback that you are grasping the course content.
Second, the training includes lifetime access to private group coaching sessions with Celeste.
Private group coaching sessions are held twice weekly and explore a topic of interest to Certified Laughter Yoga Leaders in more detail and give new leaders a chance to practice leadership skills.
As a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader in training you have the opportunity to personally connect with Celeste twice weekly in private online group coaching sessions as well as her twice weekly free Laughter Club.
On Tuesdays from 7:30-8:00pm EST is an optional open to the public online Laughter Club session followed by a private group coaching session from 8:00-9:00pm EST.
On Fridays from 11:30-11:50am is an optional open to the public online Laughter Club session followed by a private group coaching session from 12:00-1:00pm EST.
Private group coaching sessions are offered six Saturdays per year from 12:00-4:00pm EST. The dates of the Saturday sessions in 2021 are:
- February 27
- March 27
- April 17
- July 17
- October 2
- November 13
You get to enjoy an online community of fellow Certified Laughter Yoga Leaders twice weekly on Zoom. How cool!
Drop into the group coaching sessions after you finish the video modules, or if you run into questions along the way. You can bring questions or just bring yourself ready to learn and have fun.
Wishing you lots of laughter.