Laughter yoga (Hasyayoga) is a modern exercise involving prolonged voluntary laughter. This type of yoga is based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides similar physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter. It is usually done in groups, with eye contact and lots of playfulness between participants. Intentional laughter often turns into real and contagious laughter.
Laughter Yoga was popularized by family physician Madan Kataria who modernized its practice in 1995 by greatly simplifying and making accessible to the common man the work of earlier laughter pioneers who taught very similar concepts starting in the 1960s. Madan Kataria wrote about his experience in his 2002 book Laugh For No Reason.
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."
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. Twenty minutes of laughter is sufficient to develop fully physiological benefits.
The organization Laughter Yoga USA provides laughter yoga via conference call for participants unable to attend an in-person laughter yoga event.
- Gendry, Sebastian (2014-05-17). "Laughter Therapy History: Who, What, When". Laughter Online University. Retrieved 2019-10-12.
- Kataria, Madan (2002), Laugh For No Reason (2 ed.), Mumbai, India: Madhuri International, ISBN 978-81-87529-01-9
- "Laughter Yoga: Relaxing, If a Bit Kooky". NPR.org. Retrieved 2019-04-21.
- Kanigel, Rachele. "How Laughter Yoga Heals, Plus 6 Fun Exercises to Try". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 2019-04-21.
- Wilson, Mary (23 June 2016). "Finding focus, relaxation and improved health through Laughter Yoga". ABC News 10. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
- Bokur, Debra. "What's So Funny? Yoga Journal". Yogajournal.com. Retrieved 2013-08-02.
- "Laughter Yoga on the phone". Laughter Yoga U.S.A. Retrieved 2017-07-12.
- Birklbauer, Walter (2011), Why Laughter Yoga or The Guitar Method: A Neurologic View, ISBN 3-8423-6907-7
- The Laughing Club of India documentary by Mira Nair about the club founded by Madan Kataria