In today's fast-paced and stressful world, finding effective methods to relieve stress and experience joy has become a priority for many individuals. One unique approach that has gained popularity in recent years is Laughter Yoga. Combining the benefits of laughter exercises with yoga breathing techniques, this practice has evolved as a powerful tool for promoting mental and physical well-being.

3 things you need to know 

  • As the body cannot distinguish between artificial and genuine laughter, participants experience both physical and emotional advantages.
  • Laughter Yoga is a worldwide phenomenon, with thousands of laughter groups and trained laughter leaders in over 100 countries. 
  • It is accessible to people of all ages, backgrounds, fitness levels, and it provides a pleasant and practical approach to encourage joy, connection, and overall health.

When and how the Laughter Yoga was developed?

Laughter Yoga was developed in the mid-1990s by Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician from India. Driven by his belief in the healing power of laughter, he embarked on a mission to bring more laughter into people's lives. Recognising that laughter is contagious, Dr. Kataria devised a series of laughter exercises and incorporated them into a yoga-inspired routine.

How to induce laughter through intentional activities?

The essence of Laughter Yoga is its ability to elicit laughter through deliberate practises, even in the absence of humour or jokes. Participants in Laughter Yoga sessions engage in a variety of activities designed to induce spontaneous laughter. These exercises may involve fun exchanges, fictitious scenarios, and rhythmic clapping, all of which are intended to elicit laughter. Individuals engage in these exercises to reawaken their youthful sense of delight, resulting in real and contagious laughter.

(Group of women performing laughter yoga. | Image: Shutterstock)

What are the types of laughter for joy and connection?

Laughter in its various forms can bring joy and connection into our lives. Silent laughter promotes widening the mouth and laughing without making a sound, allowing for eye contact and amusing movements. Humming laughter is when you keep your mouth closed while laughing or giggling.

Lions laugh by opening their mouths, thrusting out their tongues, spreading their arms, and enlarging their eyes. Gradient laughter begins with a mild chuckle and progresses to a loud, booming laugh before ending with a peaceful grin. Heart-to-heart laughter promotes closeness by allowing partners or groups to grasp hands, hug, and laugh together, resulting in a stronger bond.

How is laughter yoga different from conventional yoga?

What sets Laughter Yoga apart from conventional yoga practices is its emphasis on deep breathing techniques. By incorporating yogic breathing exercises, Laughter Yoga harnesses the power of breath to promote relaxation and mindfulness. The combination of laughter and deep breathing oxygenates the body, reducing stress and releasing endorphins, the body's natural feel-good hormones.

(Women performing yoga. | Image: Shutterstock)

What are the physiological and psychological effects of laughter yoga?

Republic Media spoke with medical professionals to learn more about the physiological changes that occur in the body and how Laughter Yoga helps in improving general well-being. Laughter yoga, based on the body-mind principle, is beneficial for mental health, says Dr. Shilpi Saraswat, a Clinical Psychologist from Sakra World Hospital Bengaluru.

Studies reveal that laughter therapy reduces symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress, while lowering adrenocorticotropic hormone and cortisol levels. Incorporating deep breathing techniques from laughter yoga leads to relaxation and significant changes in neurotransmitters. It enhances mood, subjective well-being, mental clarity, and cognitive functioning. Laughter yoga also aids in managing psychiatric and psychological conditions such as anxiety, PTSD, mood disorders, eating disorders, and psychosis. 

(A group of yoga practitioners at the beachside| Image: Shutterstock)

As Laughter Yoga grows in popularity, its benefits are being recognised by medical specialists and wellness experts all over the world. Laughter clubs and workshops are sprouting up in neighbourhoods, businesses, and even healthcare facilities, offering people a natural and entertaining way to reduce stress and promote general well-being.

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