I love to laugh.
I love to hear people laugh.
I love making people laugh.
Me & laughter go a long way back, from classroom wisecracks to high school humor columns to comedy videos. Laughter generally even works its way into my work as a writer, trainer, and instructional designer. Laughter just makes everything better.
Me & yoga, on the other hand, have a history, all right: a history of me not doing it. When I first heard of yoga growing up, I very much wanted to try it. Checking out some library books, I learned some basic poses, breathing exercises, and how to stand on my head. But as an introvert, I wasn’t going to go to any yoga classes, even if I could have found them back then. I hate routine and I hate practice, and I am simply not very physically active or oriented. I would get bored holding a pose and want to go read a book. So I never really got into yoga, despite years of aspiring to practice yoga.
Just recently, however, I discovered laughter yoga!
Laughter yoga builds on two known truths:
• laughter is healthy for your body; and
• your body cannot tell the difference between real laughter and faked laughter.
Add in the similarity of breath exertion involved in laughter to some yoga breathing exercises, and you have the basic building blocks of laughter yoga.
Dr. Madan Kataria took those building blocks and created laughter yoga over 20 years ago. Working from the “laughter is healthy” starting point, he started a small group of people meeting in a park to share jokes and laughter. But after awhile, the joke-telling became stale and Dr. Kataria realized they were no longer necessary. even when th jokes weren’t funny, if anyone started to laugh, everyone started to laugh. So he took the jokes out to champion laughing for no reason at all. Now, he heads up Laughter Yoga University. With over 6,000 laughter clubs around the world, including over 400 in the United States alone, laughter yoga is spreading around the world.
There’s a lot of background info on how and why laughter yoga works out there, but that’s not what this blog post is about. This is simply to introduce to you to the concept and give you have an opportunity to experience laughter yoga for yourself.
So here’s 3 short videos to encourage you, too, to laugh for no reason.
This first video takes 5 minutes to move you quickly through 4 stages of a simple laughter yoga “workout” (hard to call laughter “work”)
This session lasts longer, 10 minutes in all, and uses some paired or group exercises. That’s okay if you’re alone, you still benefit from the laughter if you perform them solo.
I love this final video for how the fellow ends each little exercise with a bit of a dance and a quick repeated couplet, “I am happy — I am relaxed.”