What Happens in a Laughter Yoga Session?

Are you considering trying Laughing Yoga but you’re not sure what to expect in a session? In general, there are five steps of a complete Laughter Yoga session:

Step 1: Welcome

Step 2: Gentle Warm-Up

Step 3: Laughter and Breathing Exercises

Step 4: Laughter Meditation

Step 5: Grounding Activity

This article outlines each of these components of a complete Laughter Yoga session as originally outlined by Dr. Madan Kataria, the founder of the worldwide Laughter Yoga movement.

 

Step 1: Welcome

The first part of the session is the welcome. The Certified Laughter Yoga Leader or Teacher will welcome you to the session, introducing herself and the Laughter Yoga practice. When introducing the Laughter Yoga practice, the instructor will answer the question “What is Laughing Yoga?” and outline the key reminders for safe and fun laughter exercise session. The facilitator may allow time for individual group members to say their name and engage them in icebreaker exercise.

One thing to note. Laughing with each other is a key part of Laughter Yoga. In Laughter Yoga participants laugh with others as opposed to at others. We always laugh with others who are laughing with us.

 

Step 2: Gentle Warm-up

The next component of the Laughter Yoga session is a gentle warm-up. The Certified Laughter Yoga Leader or Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher will lead participants through a gentle warm-up. Participants will warm up the body using various stretches or movements of the body.

Equally important in the warm-up is warming up the voice. When I am leading Laughter Yoga I like to invite participants to make “HO, HA, HEE” laughing sounds while circling the shoulders, hips, ankles and so forth. This initial silliness invites participants to begin to let go and gradually allow themselves to be more playful.

Playfulness is a key to getting the most out of your Laughter Yoga session. The more you allow yourself to laugh and be playful, the more fun you will have and the higher likelihood that the laughter than you initially do as bodily exercise becomes genuine and contagious laughter. It’s good to begin to be playful during the warm-up.

 

Step 3: Laughter and Breathing Exercises

The bulk of the Laughter Yoga session is the Laughter Yoga exercises and the breathing exercises. The Laughter Yoga exercises are playful behaviors enacted while laughing. You can view an example of a Laughter Yoga exercise here so you can see what I’m talking about. This example exercise is called “High Five and Miss.” Participants pretend to high five each other but they are miss each time and then just laugh. Keep in mind that Laughter Exercises are all done while laughing. We laugh with others who laugh with us.

The Laughter Yoga Instructor will also lead you in breathing exercises. Depending on the fitness level of the group, the instructor will intersperse a breathing exercise after every one to three Laughter Yoga exercises. The goal of the breathing exercise is to breathe deeply from the diaphragm and exhale longer than the inhalation.

The breathing exercises enable participants to laugh longer. In Laughter Yoga, you want to laugh continuously for a minimum of ten minutes. If you’re curious why that is, you can read more about that here.

FUN FACT: Laughter Yoga is called Laughter Yoga because of the deep breathing exercises or pranayama that is interspersed throughout the session. That and the fact that laughter in its simplest form is a series of deep inhalations and exhalations. You can try it yourself. When you are laughing from your belly “HA, HA, HA” you can feel your belly moving up and down, expelling old oxygen and bringing in the new.

 

Step 4: Laughter Meditation

The next component is the Laughter Meditation. Laughter Meditation means free-flowing deep laughter in the present. At this point in the session we drop the Laughter Exercises and just allow ourselves to laugh like a flowing river. There is no talking or performing in order to make others laugh. It is simply a time of free-flowing laughter. Periods of breathing naturally happen in the laughter meditation. Regular breathing interspersed throughout the Laughter Meditation helps us to laugh longer. Generally, you don’t want to laugh longer than 20 minutes in Laughter Meditation.

The group can start the Laughter Meditation with eyes open and then progress to eyes closed. The Leader may have participants begin the Laughter Meditation  by sitting comfortably in an inwardly facing circle, or participants may lie down. In the ten years I’ve been doing Laughter Yoga I’ve experimented with a lot of different postures for Laughter Meditation and I especially like sitting back-to-back with another participant and feeling each other’s laughter while at the same time feeling supported by that person. Certified Laughter Yoga Leaders and Certified Laughter Yoga Teachers, are you curious about how to lead Laughter Meditation? You can learn more about leading Laughter Meditation here.

Cathartic moments are okay during the Laughter Meditation. I have personally witnessed people cry tears of sorrow and joy during this part of the Laughter Meditation. Sometimes deep belly laughter brings up blocked emotions and it is normal for those emotions to come out during the Laughter Meditation.

 

Step 5: Grounding Activity

The last component of the Laughter Yoga session is a Grounding Activity. It is now the time for relaxation and cooling down of the heart rate. The Leader may use various methods to help you relax during this “savasana” time.

One of my favorite methods of relaxation is the “Yoga Nidra” or guided body tour. During this tour of the body, participants focus on relaxing various parts of the body, as guided by the leader. This progressive muscle relaxation is essentially a guided body tour that keeps the mind in the present moment by allowing it to focus on different parts of the body.

If you are a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader or Teacher and are curious about how to lead a Laughter Meditation, the easiest way to lead participants in this relaxation technique is to think of the body as a map. You may begin by relaxing the feet and then guide that relaxation all the way to the crown of the head, stopping along the way at major body parts. Alternatively, you could move in the reverse direction, starting at the crown of the head and moving down to the toes.

And last is the closing. This is a nice time to go around the circle and each person say their name. I have hosted a free Laughter Club for over a decade now. One of the things that I like to do at the end of the session is to leave a few minutes for participants to share how the session was for them. Participants feel connected to each other after laughing together and this invites continued conversation after the session has officially ended.

 

How Can I Find a Laughter Yoga Club?

Laughter Yoga is a worldwide movement and there thousands of Laughter Clubs all over the world. With the global pandemic many Laughter Clubs are meeting virtually through Zoom or Skype. These online Laughter Clubs give participants a chance to maintain a group Laughter Yoga session without meeting in person.

I personally have two groups that meet each online week on Tuesdays and Fridays. Find out how to join the Laughter Yoga Clubs here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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