Laughter yoga: how it works, goals and exercises

Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / Pezibear

Laughter yoga is not primarily about postures or meditation – it is actually about laughter. We explain exactly how it works here.

Laughter Yoga was developed in 1995 by the Indian doctor Madan Kataria in Mumbai. So it’s a very new style of yoga, but it’s becoming increasingly popular: there are now several thousand laughter yoga centers around the world – places where people laugh together.

Unlike other yoga styles, laughter yoga does not involve demanding postures or long meditations. Instead, it’s primarily about laughing in isolation. There are also some aspects of traditional yoga forms in laughter yoga. We explain to you how laughter yoga works and which exercises belong to a laughter yoga class. You will also learn more about the goals and effects of laughter yoga.

How does laughter yoga work?

Laughter yoga involves a lot of laughter.
Laughter yoga involves a lot of laughter.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / MichaelGaida)

In laughter yoga, too Hasya Yoga called, there is one thing above all on the program: laughter. First of all, this will at the motor level triggered. That means: unlike jokes or comedy, no cognitive stimulation is used to laugh. Instead, the participants intentionally begin to laugh until the initially artificial laugh comes in natural laughter passes over – true to that Laughter yoga motto “Fake it until you make it” (freely translated: “Fake it until it becomes real”).

The participants in the Laughter Yoga course infect each other until they reach a state of childish playfulness. In the typical laughter yoga exercises, a lot is therefore practiced in groups and interacting with eye contact and playful exercises.

Laughter yoga: classic exercises of a yoga class

In laughter yoga, many exercises are carried out in a group or with a partner.
In laughter yoga, many exercises are carried out in groups or with a partner.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / laurajuarez)

A laughter yoga class often starts with a few Loosening and stretching exercises such as Breathing exercises (Pranayama), which relax your body and mind and prepare you for a long laugh.

Then some exercises follow, all of which have one goal: laugh, laugh, laugh. Typical laughter yoga exercises include Clapping and breathing exercises as well as pantomime elements. For example, there are the following laughter yoga exercises:

  • Hoho-Haha-Laugh: The participants repeat the syllables “hoho” and “haha” expressively. They clap their hands and look into each other’s eyes.
  • Welcoming Laughs: The participants shake hands and laugh in each other’s faces.
  • Shy laugh: The participants hide behind their hands, then look shyly from behind them and laugh at their counterparts.

Some of these exercises are used in laughter yoga Hop and dance connected. In addition, laughter yoga is often used as well sung, played or spoken gibberish.

So you see: Laughter yoga is anything but a strict meditation practice. Instead, the yoga style invites you to fool around, have fun and feel like a kid again.

At the end of a laughter yoga class there are often some physical exercises (Asanas), Breathing exercises or one guided meditation. Depending on the studio and teacher, these elements may be completely omitted. A laughter yoga unit usually lasts between 20 to 60 minutes.

tip: By the way, there are also online courses for laughter yoga.

Goals and effects of laughter yoga

Laughter yoga puts you in a good mood and can help with stress and depression.
Laughter yoga puts you in a good mood and can help with stress and depression.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / Pezibear)

In laughter yoga, participants should laugh heartily and freely for no reason. They forget everyday worries in a playful way. According to the inventor of laughter yoga, the body cannot distinguish whether laughter is real or played – but the positive effects are the same. This is intended to mean both laughter yoga Beneficial on a physiological as well as on a mental and emotional level Act.

Laughter yoga should include:

  • reduce stress and work against fear,
  • Relieve pain and tension,
  • general well-being and Bad mood improve,
  • strengthen the cardiovascular system,
  • strengthen the oxygen supply and
  • Improve empathy and social contact skills.

In the meantime there are also scientific studies on laughter yoga and its effects – especially as a therapy option stress, Anxiety and depression. There are, among others, the following Research results and studies on laughter yoga:

  • A study of 38 male medical care students has shown that regular laughter yoga can improve general health as well as sleep disorders, inner restlessness and depression can help.
  • A randomized controlled study with 50 older depressed women, 2010 came to the conclusion that laughter yoga can help with depression and improve mental health. The results also show that laughter yoga in this study was just as effective as group therapy for coping with depression in the control group!
  • Laughter yoga can also be effective against stress. One comes to this conclusion study from 2014 with 37 cancer patients who were about to undergo chemotherapy treatment.
  • Another study from 2019 comes to the conclusion that laughter yoga can improve the quality of life of breast cancer patients.

Who is Laughter Yoga suitable for?

Laughter yoga is suitable for many people - but with some pre-existing conditions, you should seek medical advice beforehand.
Laughter yoga is suitable for many people – but with some pre-existing conditions you should seek medical advice beforehand.
(Photo: CC0 / Pixabay / geralt)

Unlike in Ashtanga yoga, Jivamukti Yoga or Hatha yoga there are no demanding physical exercises in laughter yoga. Therefore, this yoga style is also suitable for people who are physically restricted due to injuries or old age.

For example, laughter yoga is used in retirement homes for Senior: inside, at schools for children or in hospitals for Patient: inside and Mothers offered. But also in Companies and Universities Laughter yoga is becoming increasingly popular.

Since the lungs, airways, diaphragm and abdominal muscles are heavily used, laughter yoga is not suitable for some diseases and complaints. These include angina pectoris, stool and urinary incontinence, aneurysm, glaucoma, fractured ribs, herniated diaphragm, extremely high blood pressure, herniated disc and epilepsy. If in doubt, you should seek medical advice and speak to a yoga teacher before you start laughing yoga.

Read more at Utopia:

  • Yamas: How the yoga ethic ensures peaceful coexistence
  • Doing sport: How to find the right sport
  • Children’s yoga: this is how you can get your child excited about yoga
  • Iyengar Yoga: This is what yoga with aids is all about

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