It’s hard to piece together how Laughter Yoga is an actual health and wellbeing exercise program, especially since the general mentality towards exercise has been, for a long time, “No Pain, No Gain.” And though there is truth to this, it isn’t necessarily always so.
The act of laughing challenges this mentality, because in laughing, we relieve ourselves of our pain, and the absence of this pain is eventually what you “gain.” Laughter yoga is still an aerobic exercise program, but it does more than just strengthen your lungs and your heart. It also releases you of your inhibitions and pulls your ego down back to Earth. It doesn’t make fun of you, though; it makes fun with you, and because of you.
I took a Laughter Yoga exercise class in college, and while it was squished between two same-building subjects, causing me to travel across campus in record time twice in three hours, it was worth it. You will leave Laughter Yoga classes rejuvenated, and you won’t get bored because it solely requires your time, your creativity, and your laughter. For example, in the second half of my Laughter Yoga classes, three students were required to lead an exercise per meeting.
These were my favorite.
- The Gradient Laugh
In this exercise, the goal is to build up laughter together. You begin by sporting a smirk, and then a smile, for your peers. You are then encouraged to start chuckling together, gradually increasing your volume until you are all laughing your hardest.
It’s always wise to start a class with this, as it breaks the tension in the room and opens the floodgates to unadulterated laughter.
- The No-Money Laughter
This exercise, for a college student, hit home. Even if you’re not in college anymore, you will sure do more than giggle when you try this.
In this exercise, you are supposed to reach into your pockets, (or wallet if you’re wearing something that doesn’t have them) and act like you have no money. You can shake your head in disappointment or start asking for help through physical cues. You then, will start accepting this imaginary situation for what it is, and start laughing with your group.
- The Gibberish Discussion Laughter
This is one of the best group exercises you can have in a Laughter Yoga class.
It starts with all of you sitting in a circle. The first person to talk will stand up and explain something passionately in gibberish; big hand gestures (such as pointing, clapping to make a point, etc.) are not required but are appreciated as this quickly escalates the laughter in the exercise. This goes on until everyone is standing up, passionately discussing in gibberish, and laughing hard.
- The Tag-You’re-It Laughter Exercise
The more physical exercises of Laughter Yoga are either laughter coupled with yoga poses or laughter matched with nostalgic childhood games.
This exercise is basically a game of Tag, but once you are tagged, you are supposed to laugh as hard as you can until you can find another person to tag. It’s a simple rendition of the classic game, and when you finish you will also want a large glass of water.
As you can see from these exercises, Laughter Yoga is simple. You don’t need to have knowledge in complicated gym equipment, or have to show up with a six pack to prove that you can handle it. You just need to tap into your childlike curiosity and be open to new possibilities.
When you join a Laughter Yoga class, you can expect these exercises or you can suggest them, and if you don’t feel like doing these, there will surely be other exercises you can do. One thing is for sure though: you’ll be laughing either way.