I am a certified Laughter Yoga Teacher.
Yes, that is a thing. And, yes, I do actually lead happiness workshops and retreats that are based around laughter and bringing more joy into our lives.
I’ve been teaching traditional asana yoga for over eight years and, a few years ago, I started to get a little bored with it. I wanted to bring the joy and connection back into my practice and my life, so I began exploring this laughter yoga thing. Now that I’ve been practicing and teaching it for a few years, I can honestly say it is one of the most profound and powerful things I have ever done. The ability to share this gift of pure bliss with stressed-out New Yorkers is transformative.
You know that “yoga high” you get after a great class? Well, multiply that by ten and you’ve got the idea. Not only is laughter therapeutic and fun, but I’ve found that it is the shortest distance between two people. Nothing breaks down barriers and creates community quite as fast laughter.
Laughter is the easiest way to add more joy, play and fun into your life, and it’s good for you. You don’t have to think anything is funny to be able to laugh. Are you busy, stressed, tired or just bored? All the more reason to add laughter to your everyday life. Besides bringing lightness and joy to your everyday experiences, laughter is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself; it has no negative side effects and is free. Anyone can laugh and everyone does laugh, but we do not laugh nearly enough as we get older.
Just a few minutes of daily laughter brings the body and mind back into balance and promotes a positive mental and emotional shift that supports greater health and well-being. Laughter relaxes the body, reduces stress hormones such as cortisol and, at the same time, triggers the release of endorphins. Laughter can also help protect the heart by increasing blood flow, while improving the function of your blood vessels. This is a powerful tool that can work much better than most drugs on the market today.
Here are a few tips to get you started, so you can laugh your way into blissful health:
1. Learn how to laugh without abandon again. Go to a laughter yoga workshop and take a weekend course. There are very specific techniques that we can put into practice to help facilitate laughter, whether with someone else or not. Check out www.laughteryoga.org for more training info.
2. If you don’t have the time or interest in going to a laughter yoga workshop, then just go to your mirror, look yourself in the eyes and start to laugh with yourself. You can also check out YouTube videos such as this one for more tips: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2xYLUQSFHE. The key is laughter for its own sake, not because you are laughing at anything.
3. You have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone (even while alone). Push the envelope and force the laughter. You’ll likely have to “fake it ‘til you make it” before it becomes natural. Make lots of sounds, move around spontaneously, fake laugh out loud and continue until you find that spark of genuine laughter. The body processes fake laughter as real laughter and the therapeutic benefits are the same. If you can, find a friend or laughter buddy and commit to laughing with them once a week.
If you’d like more information, you can go to my website at www.theyogaadventure.com and sign up for our next Laughter Yoga retreat, May 15th-17th in Upstate New York. You will get a real chance to dive into this powerful technique that is always just a laugh away!