Laughter yoga

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Madan Kataria at a laughter yoga event

Laughter yoga (Hasyayoga) is a practice involving prolonged voluntary laughter. Laughter yoga is based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter. Laughter yoga is done in groups, with eye contact and playfulness between participants. Forced laughter soon turns into real and contagious laughter.

In the mid-1990s, laughter yoga was practiced in the early mornings in open parks, primarily by groups of older people. Laughter yoga was made popular[citation needed] as an exercise routine developed by Indian physician Madan Kataria, who writes about the practice in his 2002 book Laugh For No Reason.[1]


The yoga is performed without any humorous reason to laugh, with one practitioner observing that "The mind does not know that we’re faking it."[2] Laughter Yoga brings more oxygen to the body and brain by incorporating yogic breathing which results in deep diaphragmatic breathing.[citation needed] In most cases fake laughter quickly leads to real and contagious laughter. Laughter yoga bypasses the intellectual systems that normally act as a brake on natural laughter.

Laughter yoga sessions may start with gentle warm-up techniques which include stretching, chanting, clapping, eye contact and body movement, to help break down inhibitions and encourage a sense of playfulness. Breathing exercises are used to prepare the lungs for laughter, followed by a series of ‘laughter exercises’ that combine the method of acting and visualization techniques with playfulness. Laughter exercises are interspersed with breathing exercises.[3] Twenty minutes of laughter is sufficient to develop full physiological benefits.

A laughter yoga session may finish with "Laughter Meditation", a session of unstructured laughter whereby participants sit or lie down and allow natural laughter to flow from within "like a fountain".[citation needed]but more often, the session is ended with a restorative Yoga Nidra meditation.

Participants leave the session feeling up-lifted, energized yet calm and peaceful. You feel a difference from the first session.

Scientific validity[edit]

A handful of small-scale scientific studies have indicated that Laughter Yoga may potentially have some medically beneficial effects, including benefits to cardiovascular health and mood.[4] Benefits to mood in depressed patients have been found to be as good as exercise therapy.[5] A study by Oxford University found that pain thresholds become "significantly higher" after laughter, compared to the control condition, and saw this as being due to laughter itself, rather than the mood of the subject. The study suggested that Laughter produced an "endorphin-mediated opiate effect" which could "play a crucial role in social bonding".[6]

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Birklbauer, Walter (2011), Why Laughter Yoga or The Guitar Method: A Neurologic View, ISBN 3-8423-6907-7