After a great weekend training, I am now a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader. What is Laughter Yoga, you ask?
Laughter Yoga is a unique model where participants can laugh for no reason without relying on humor, jokes or comedy. People come together in a group and experience Laughter Yoga exercises interspersed with breathing and stretching exercises. There is also Laughter Yoga meditation and grounding techniques.
Laughter Yoga was developed by a medical doctor in Mumbai, India, Dr. Madan Kataria. He was researching the benefits of laughter and decided to field-test his findings. In 1995 he gathered a few people together and started a laughter club. Through trial and error, it grew and developed into what is now called Laughter Yoga. Today Laughter Yoga is a worldwide phenomenon with thousands of clubs.
Dr Kataria and his wife saw the similarities between laughter and Pranayama exercises. Pranayama means control of breath. “Prana” is breath or vital energy in the body. On subtle levels, prana represents the energy responsible for life or life force, and “ayama” means control. So Pranayama is “control of breath”. So combining laughter with this yoga breathing, it brings more oxygen to the body and the brain. This helps us feel more energetic and healthy.
People come together in groups to do Laughter Yoga and together with eye contact and childlike playfulness start to experience real and contagious laughter. The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. People get the same physiological and psychological benefits with both.
In order to get the scientifically proven health benefits of laughter, we need to laugh continuously for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Since the laughter is an exercise, we can prolong our laughter for as long as we want. So a typical Laughter Yoga session would involve several types of exercises and go anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes depending on the group.
The Laughter Yoga sessions are held in safe environments where one can laugh loudly and heartily. Because to reap the health benefits of laughter, it has to be loud and deep coming from the diaphragm; a deep belly laugh. Besides the belly laughter exercises, we clap, stimulating acupressure points in the hands, we deep breath to help flush the lungs and bring about relaxation and we play. The objective of Laughter Yoga is to cultivate childlike playfulness that helps us laugh without any reason, increases our energy levels and builds enthusiasm.
Marjorie Moulin was our instructor this weekend and a good time was had by all. She is a transformational coach and led us through all the exercises and kept us laughing throughout the whole weekend. The training was held at The “Inner” Centre, a seminar room in North York that became our safe environment. The room was very versatile and the kitchen was a great place to exchange ideas and share food.
For more information on either Laughter Yoga sessions or renting The “Inner” Centre, please contact me. I’m very excited to add this new modality to my repertoire.