The ridiculous joy of laughter yoga

Whoever said that laughter is the best medicine was right! By Sarah Highfield

Reading time: 2 minutes

Think back to when you were a child and if you were ever in a bad mood, a family member might have started to make silly faces and sounds, or tell you jokes until you laughed so much that you forgot about your bad mood – sound familiar?

Well, here is the good news: that method still works as an adult. Just like yawning, laughter is contagious, and if you are not already aware of it, there is such a thing called 'laughter yoga.'

Laughter yoga was created in 1995 by Dr Madan Kataria and is essentially a practice of prolonged induced laughter. It is believed that deliberate laughter is equally as effective as natural laughter when it comes to both the psychological and physiological benefits. The practice increases oxygen flow to the brain nd helps to relax the body through happiness, playfulness, and bonding. It takes people into a space where there is freedom to laugh at the silliest things, and leaves them with big wide smiles and full of endorphins.

I have been in both laughter yoga classes as a student and taught it to others, and admittedly, it looks and feels very childish, but it is the best remedy to a bad day or even moments of uncertainty or loneliness. It is suitable for everyone, no matter what their yoga experience is, and I personally wish that there were more laughter yoga classes on studio timetables.

If you are wondering how it is done, there are several methods which are popular, with my favourite being straightforward spontaneous laughter. This is done whereby participants lie on the floor in a circle with their heads close to one another; one person needs to start by letting out a big, hearty belly laugh, which will result in the other people starting to laugh. Before you know it, a laughter chain has been set off, spreading throughout the whole group. Even if the first laugh is a little forced, genuine laughter will follow (I promise!). Other widespread methods are “Ho-ho. Ha-ha-ha” chanting, talking gibberish to one another, and gradient laughter.

In conclusion, let this be your sign to try a laughter yoga class if you are new to it, or go back to one if you have been before. Now is just as good a time as any to embrace the absurdity of the world, step outside of your comfort zone, and find more reasons to smile.

Sarah Highfield is a yoga teacher, three-time OM cover model and regular contributor. Visit: or find her on Instagram @Yogagise and at the OM Yoga Show.

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