Whether you fall out of your pose, or extend just a little too far and feel yourself let one go (it happens), there are plenty of moments during yoga practice that might give you a good chuckle. But now, there’s a new yoga trend that will have you laughing on purpose… a lot. It’s been rightfully dubbed “laughing yoga” and it might be taking over a city near you.
It’s nothing like your typical yoga class. In fact, there are no poses, no flows, and definitely no mats or equipment. It’s just you, the rest of the class and rounds upon rounds of uproarious laughter.
“Laughter Yoga is the practice of holding a prolonged voluntary laughter,” writes Debra Kaszubski, for The Oakland Press. “Forced laughter eventually turns into real, contagious laughter. Laughter Yoga is practised in groups and usually with eye contact.”
“It’s not like traditional yoga, meaning there’s no holding poses, sitting on mats, or even workout clothes,” she continues. “The only thing participants hold is laughter.”
First created in India in the mid-1990s, laughing yoga means to use your laughter as a form of exercise. Entirely focused on the mind-body connection, it’s been linked to improved immunity and a general influx of positive feelings.
Even if the “ha ha ha” moments may seem a bit forced at the beginning, do it for a quick stint and you’ll eventually feel the very real belly aches, in a good way. Fire up those abs with some serious deep laughs and connect your breath for some added integrated powerful breathing.
While there has been little research to back up the health benefits of the practice itself, there’s a good reason why “laughter is the best medicine” has come to be a real thing. In fact, one study has proved that laughing is easily one of the best forms of stress relief. On top of that, it also releases happy endorphins, giving you a much calmer and improved sense of well-being, all the while even reducing your blood pressure.
So why is this a laughter yoga class? As all yogis know, the practice is much more than just nailing the pose or holding the twist. In fact, one of the initial steps in any yoga class — from beginner to expert — hinges on breathing. Being in-tune with your breath and using the inhale and exhale to guide your movements is key to helping your muscles transition from pose to pose.
And the best thing is, even if there is not a laughter yoga studio or class near you, you don’t need an instructor to give you the basic guiding principle: laughing is good for you.