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Laughter Yoga is a combination of clapping, breathing and simulated laughter exercises. No words are allowed during a session, except by the instructor. Throughout the exercises, it’s important to make eye contact with other participants as this keeps you all present.
In this page you will learn with text and videos how to lead a basic Laughter Yoga session with a group.[sociallocker]
Whether they start off happy or not, people begin a Laughter Yoga practice by rhythmically clapping their hands together with full finger-on-finger and palm-on-palm contact, as it is believed to increase energy levels by stimulating pressure points. While clapping, participants chant “Ho, ho, ha, ha, ha!” This activates the diaphragm and prepares the body to breathe deeply throughout the practice. During the clapping and chanting warm-up, people may begin dancing or speaking in gibberish.
After warming up, the session leader may lead participants through some deep breathing and stretching exercises. The most common one is to inhale as you lift both arms up, and exhale (laugh if you want) as you bring them down.
The heart of the Laughter Yoga technique are the laughter exercises. The leader invites the participants to pantomime a specific every-day behavior, and simply add laughter to it. It could be a hand-shake laughter (you shake hands and laugh), or a mobile phone laughter (you put an imaginary phone to your ear and laugh). See our list of 25 exercises here to get you started, and over 100 more here to keep you going.
Here is a short video that will help you understand how the clap-breathe-laugh sequence came to be:
…and here is a visual description of this sequence in the words of its founder himself, Dr Madan Kataria:[youtubelist feed=”playlist” playlist=”PLRRK1rmRW-T_D3lhl3C7F72M94_vZsnYT”]
Laughter Yoga sessions are usually concluded with a laughter meditation where participants are invited to sit down and simply laugh. There is no more clapping or breathing at this point. The laughter will come and go in waves, and last however long it wants to last. When it dies, wait 30 seconds or so and start over again, faking it as much as necessary.
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Medical science suggests that laughter is healthy and really good for you.
Why not put this claim to the test? If it is true then you should be able to feel those benefits yourself. This is a big deal and we invite you to take this experiment seriously. You could discover something of great value for you.
Here is what you need to do:
Take the time to understand the approach to laughter that we advocate. You don’t need to be happy, feel good, or find anything funny. This is exercise, not comedy.
You need to physically engage for at least 10 minutes. Here you can watch any of the videos in the playlist below and simply do as instructed. In doubt just mirror what you see. All videos will play in sequence by default. If you experience any technical challenge with the playlist refresh your page.
Only participate at your level of physical comfort. If all you can do without pain or discomfort is a mild chuckle with no other movements, then that’s where you’re at and that’s OK. Everything in due time. You will still feel a difference.
Please answer the following questionnaire
before and after your session to better quantify the impact of this experiment.
If you have the time try this full laughter session (60 minutes) with Sebastien Gendry, founder and CEO of the American School of Laughter Yoga:[pl_modal title=”60 minutes laughter session with Sebastien Gendry” type=”btn” colortype=”info” label=”Watch the video”] [pl_video type=”youtube” id=”0K-Fq0Nn28U”] [/pl_modal]
Need More Time-Tested Ideas?
Special report: How to create and maintain a daily laughing alone practice
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We promote Laughter Clubs that are free and public. Thousands around the world volunteer their time to make them happen, freely and unconditionally, from the heart as an act of service.
We are often asked how these people can make a living if they don’t get paid. The answer is that getting paid is not their intention and this is not how they make a living.
People who (want to) make a living with Laughter Yoga offer Laughter Yoga classes, presentations or workshops. Getting paid is expected. There is a fee to attend. The event leaders have to train and practice first so that they can deliver a service that is of value. It’s a different public and a different logistic. Where Laughter Clubs are easy-going (you pretty much do what you want; anybody can do it) Laughter Yoga classes are and must be of a professional level otherwise people won’t come back.
There is no conflict between free and for-fee events. Actually, they complement each other. Every person we know who is professionally active with Laughter Yoga leads a free Laughter Club (note that “free” does not mean that you can’t have a donation box). It’s where they can to practice and refine their skill. It’s also their marketing window.
On a different level, generosity leads to abundance. Selflessness leads to joy
From the volunteers’ perspective, Dana or donation is one of the few deep values of generosity left in the world, where something precious is offered without charge. Laughter Clubs strive to honor this noble tradition of Dana, so that the practical wisdom they share on the art of living is kept free from pollution and misunderstanding.From the student’s perspective, Dana is a way to attempt to act in the same way as the teaching is offered, freely and unconditionally from the heart without expectation of return. Through Dana as students we offer our support to the ongoing work of the teachers. So when we give Dana, we do not give for ourselves, but so that others may continue to benefit from the teachings. If donation is given with this attitude, then it is purifying both individually and collectively.
How many times in a day do we give to others our time and money with the thought of getting something in return? We are trained habitually to expect a return; we work and expect remuneration, we are kind and polite expecting friendship and civility, we buy expecting a certain kind of product. If the expected or planned return does not materialize then we suffer!
The giving of motiveless or pure donation transcends our habitual patterns and as a result is free from the suffering of expectation and instead full of the joy of selfless action. The practice of giving unconditionally in all aspects of our lives is a very deep Yoga. To give is to let go; the sorrow and tension lie in holding on and holding back.
The Dalai Lama was once asked why he is always so happy, he replied after contemplation “Perhaps it is because I spend every waking moment thinking about the welfare of others”. There is no higher gift that can be given to others than these sublime Yoga teachings. So by giving donation we are aiding the welfare of everyone. We should give what we feel we are able to while also maintaining the attitude described above. It is not so much to do with how much we give but the attitude of mind as we give.
The Buddha once said “Some provide with the little they have, others who are affluent don’t like to give. An offering given from the little one has is worth a thousand it’s value”. There is a universal law that requires great courage to explore. This law says, the more we give the more the divine provides for our true needs. The more we forget ourselves in the service of others, the more secure and fulfilled we feel. The more we stay present, the more the future is taken care of.
As students our gifts of time, money and energy to the Laughter Club we attend, upholds it and bears well for it’s future.
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A mantra is a commonly repeated sound, word or phrase used in meditation to cut through discriminating thoughts so the mind can become clear. In the context of Laughter Yoga, the “ha ha” mantra is an exercise that invites people to voice out loud something that is frustrating or painful in their life, and punctuate each sentence with “ha ha ha.”
In this video you will hear Gita Fendelman, a retired tax attorney who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease almost a decade ago while still in her 40s, put it into practice. Gita has never taken medication. Instead she chose to laugh daily, meditate, do healing Qi Qong and completely review her emotional life and diet.
This exercise may appear insensitive or even disrespectful to some, but it most definitely isn’t. This is about the affirmation of power over, not submission to what ails you. It is a most powerful exercise because you cannot both laugh about something and hang on to feelings of depression and powerlessness about it at the same time. The ability to laugh about your aches and pains is a sign of maturity and brings great emotional freedom.
This article details how people around the world are spreading its message of joy, health and world peace through laughter in a variety of projects that include Laughter Clubs, World Laughter Day, Universities of Joy, and more.
Laughter Clubs are local gatherings of people who just want to laugh as a form of exercise, and choose to feel good about themselves and the world they live in with other like-minded individuals.
While they do not belong to any tradition in particular, they are a primary door of expression for people who practice Laughter Yoga.
What is unique about them is that they are all fully independent, not-for-profit, non-political, non-religious and non competitive community-based associations of diverse people who choose to be happy. Everyone is welcome. Each club defines its own meeting frequency. They do not report to anybody, are not told what to do, and do not pay royalties.
Laughter Clubs are not limited by language differences. Laughter has no accent.
People come together to Laughter Clubs with a common purpose that provides social support. It’s a form of social glue. They provide a sense of belonging and of being involved in a worthwhile cause.
Because we have a common method and shared values, laughter club leaders and members form a global network to share ideas and to give each other encouragement and inspiration. Through this network the method improves continuously. New exercises are always being invented and we are discovering necessary cultural adaptations, too.
Laughter Clubs promote observances of World Laughter Day (the first Sunday in May).
They are intended to be a free, social, community-based initiative of motivated individuals.
In 2011 there are an estimated 6,000 Laughter Clubs in over 70 countries on five continents, and there is a rapid growth in countries of Asia, Africa and South America. Click here to find a Laughter Yoga Club near you.
Laughter Clubs are a primary force on the ground for peace. The first Laughter Clubs in the Middle East for example were created in 2005 in the countries of two archenemies: Israel and Iran. Today there are several dozens of Laughter Clubs in each of these countries.
Here is what happened in Iran. You may remember the riots and massive bloodshed in Teheran that followed a contested election in 2009. What did Teheran’s City Council do in an desperate effort to lighten up the mood in the city when everything else had failed? They sponsored more Laughter Clubs, and it worked.
There are now several Laughter Clubs in countries formerly at war, with "tight" regimes or experiencing marked political and social tension:
- South Africa
- Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia (formerly Yugoslavia)
World Laughter Day
The idea to dedicate one day of the year to laughter as the expression of a desire for world peace came to Dr. Kataria in 1998.
The first “World Laughter Day” gathering took place in Mumbai, India, on 11th of January, 1998. 12,000 members from local and international Laughter Clubs joined together in a mega laughter session.
“HAPPY-DEMIC” was the first World Laughter Day gathering outside India. It took place on 9th January 2000 In Copenhagen, Denmark and more than 10,000 people gathered on Town Hall Square. The event went into the Guinness Book of World records.
- Learn more about World Laughter Day and watch videos at http://worldlaughterday.org/
- Watch the 2011 international WLD photo album at http://goo.gl/HNgwY
Dream 1: Universities of Joy
This is a worthy goal with an interesting story that shows how powerful the vision of one man can be.
For years Dr. Kataria (featured in the image on the right) has been dreaming of five "Universities of Joy," one on each continent. These are not "academic" Universities but rather educational centers that will provide all the necessary knowledge and comprehension of the rapidly spreading concept of Laughter Yoga.
The thing is, he has not just been dreaming about it. He has let everybody know about his dream, wrote about it, shared his vision; over, and over, and then over again with unrelenting enthusiasm.
For years many kept telling him that this was a pointless pursuit because such a project would cost a phenomenal amount of human resources and money that he didn’t have – until 2009, that is.
In 2009 a wealthy Indian man died and donated enough money to get this project started with the first center in India. Land was bought, an architect hired, and the first steps of the construction started.
Inspired, an American philanthropist offered to help and is currently looking for an appropriate piece of land in North America.
This project is still on Indian time and much remains to be done before anything is completed. When will that be? The answer is the same as with the timing for World Peace: in due time.
When that will be is not Dr. Kataria’s concern. All he does is focus on what he can do in the present moment to the best of his abilities in a spirit of selfless service. For the rest he trusts that what is meant to happen will happen when it’s supposed to for the highest good of all involved.
We have all much to learn from such an attitude.
Click here to read more about the "Universities of Joy.
Dream 2: SS Shanti, a mobile university on a ship
This is another of Dr Kataria’s dream: a huge ship called SS Shanti (Peace Boat). It will sail around the world, connecting different people from different cultures through Laughter. It will have an on-board museum and host Laughter festivals and training programs.
Dream 3: Cultural exchange program
The idea behind the cultural exchange program is to give people an opportunity to understand each other’s culture, values and build a strong network of like-minded people who believe in love, laughter, joy, kindness, compassion and generosity. The implementation of this program is still in its infancy and done at this stage by people who either already know one another, or pro-actively contact local Laughter Club Leaders in areas they want to visit.
Dream 4: Laughter townships (Hasya Nagari)
The Laughter Yoga Foundation plans (there is no set timeline) to create community living townships of happy people. Its vision is to have a ‘Laughter City’ on the outskirts of each and every major city of the world.
From dream to reality: private initiatives that contribute to a better world
Dreaming does not stop laughter enthusiasts from being active in their community.
There is not enough space here to list all the private initiatives that people around the world have undertaken on a volunteer basis to bring laughter to others in need and help build a better world. Societal change is happening, and it’s happening from the ground up. Here are a few videos that illustrate a small portion of what is being done:
- With children in a street school in Mumbai, India (duration: 2 minutes 58 seconds)
- With the deaf and mute (duration: 3 minutes 58 seconds)
- With the blind (duration: 1 minute 31 seconds)
- With police officers (duration: about 15 minutes)
- With prisoners in jails and prisons (duration: 1 minute 25 minutes)
- With seniors in old age homes (duration: 29 seconds)
Experience Laughter Yoga on the first Sunday of May of every year! Come laugh with your friends and family. One big laughter party! All are welcome. We are going to laugh, play, and have a potluck party. Bring food to share.
Full details for this year’s event are at http://www.worldlaughterday.com/