By Bob Banner
“Laughter is the glorious sound of a soul waking up!” – Hafiz
“Laughter Yoga combines laughter with yogic breathing exercises. It is a perfect way to laugh and get exercise at the same time. It approaches laughter as a body exercise so it’s easy to laugh even if you’re depressed or in a bad mood. Last year I highlighted Laughter Yoga on my TV program. I’ve tried it, and it works.” – Oprah Winfrey
“Time spent laughing is time spent with the gods,” says a Japanese proverb
“Laughter Yoga is wonderfully ridiculous… a force for democracy… how can we have social hierarchy when people are laughing.” – John Cleese (in the BBC video clip)
[see RESOURCES below: video clips, more articles, testimonials, SCHEDULES, Facebook, Twitter, and other links!] See the links at the end of this article….
Even though a flashmob may have some close ties to laughter yoga, please take a peek at this flashmob laughter gig at an outdoor mall in santa barbara: http://hopedance.org/community-media/videos/796
and stay connected to our facebook page where we list events that emerge periodically : http://www.facebook.com/LaughterYogaInSLO
also, for some youtube videos of bob banner doing some laughter yoga exercises please see HERE
Laughter Yoga is a series of child-like playful exercises, indigenous laughter rituals, yogic postures and laughter games to stimulate laughter. All these exercises get us out of our heads, put a smile on our faces, energize our hearts, is great for sociability (how can one have social hierarchy when people laugh together?) and its great in creating a foundation of Joy to withstand times of adversity… so we have more options and choices on how we respond to various situations.
It was started in Mumbai, India by Dr. Kataria and his wife in 1995. While writing an article for his medical magazine about the benefits of laughter he was astounded to find in the medical literature all sorts of benefits by laughing. And eventually he discovered, by accident, that we can laugh for no reason… No jokes, no movies, no clowns, no comedy… just laughing. We can do it right now. Laugh! Or if it feels like you are faking it, that’s okay. As one of Kataria’s mantras state: “Fake It Till You Make It!”
Since 1995 there are more than 6,000 laughter yoga clubs in more than 65 countries throughout the world. A laughter yoga club is a place (a home, rec center, yoga center, church, outdoor park, studio…) where a leader leads a group in various forms of exercises that include clapping, breathing and laughing. The entire session can last from 30 minutes to 60 minutes depending. And is most often free or donation based.
The link between yoga and laughing is the breath, which is key for enhancing health for both the heart and lungs.
It is simple and fun and good for you. As Sebastien Gendry, Director of the American School of Laughter Yoga says, it helps spread the “happy chemicals” (i.e., endorphins) throughout our mind and body.
It is non-political, non-religious, not for profit and non-competitive and available and open to everyone. Some even say it is a direct experience into non-duality since one is in the here and now while laughing. One cannot be in the past or in the future while one is laughing for no reason. Laughing this way also draws from the brilliance and creativity of the right brain. Feelings of a blissful high (much like the runners-high) from feelings of non-separation are often experienced. Gendry also writes: “Laughter is infectious. Self-induced, simulated laughter can easily be converted into real laughter when you do it in a group.”
When I first heard of it I was awestruck. It appeared to me to be a missing link combining play, exercise and self-induced laughter. I love laughter, always have. I love going to comedy clubs and laughing my ass off. So then it became a shock to learn that I could laugh by myself and with others without any outward stimulation. Because it’s contagious and infectious it seemed to be a key to suspend the judgmental and analytical left brain. And health benefits occur even if one is faking it! The body doesnt know the difference between faking laughter and real laughter. I became wildly curious.
I watched the video about Laughing Clubs in India (that was included as a short film in a Spiritual Cinema Circle DVD a few years back). Then I discovered the Bodhisattva in Metro (see link below) film depicting a man who with his contagious laughter slowly bursts an entire train of serious subway riders into ecstatic laughers. Then came John Cleese’s report for the BBC (see below for the film clip) on the laughing clubs in Mumbai. The seed of this movement kept growing in me. I even took the risk of facilitating a simple exercise to groups of people where I was to give a talk and was shocked how receptive people are to self-induced laughter. We want to laugh. It’s good peer pressure. One of the Dr. Kataria’s mantras is “fake it till you make it.” How unreasonable is that?! And John Cleese calls it “wonderfully ridiculous.”
I became determined to know more so I googled “Laughter yoga clubs in the US” and discovered to my utter delight that a leadership workshop was happening in Los Angeles.
Eight months ago I returned from attending one of Sebastien Gendrys weekend workshops that included the laughing sessions themselves as well as learning how to lead one. I have never laughed so often and deeply! I am so stoked and have lead more than 120 laughter yoga sessions in SLO (and in SBarb and Ojai). I was leading them throughout SLO county (Paso, AG, Pismo, Templeton, Cambria, Oceano) and have now moved to Santa Barbara to spread the laughter there [as of this new editing, I have returned to SLO in July 2012]. To learn more about where a session might be happening in your neck of the woods, please contact me at [email protected] or simply visit our events calendar at: http://www.hopedance.org/events
One more thing. From Sebastien Gendry’s book Laughter Yoga 101: From Zero to Laughter in .5 Seconds, he cites some health benefits to laughing yoga:
“• Health improvement
• Learn to better manage stress and/or anger issues
• Boost Happiness
• Foster Inner Peace
• Overcome sadness and depression
• Break social isolation and create new friendships
• Develop self-confidence
• Improve and/or alleviate the discomfort of specific physical challenges
• Play and have fun in a safe and non-competitive environment…”
And I will add some of my own:
• Help collaborate with people who have different diverse opinions.
• Using laughter as a way to diffuse negativity
• Help suspend judgments when the commonality of laughing becomes so obvious
• Because there are so many necessary changes both socially as well as personally, what better way to do it than to have fun while growing and changing and becoming more resilient and flexible and compassionate.
• Exercise the psychic muscle that allows more and more experiences of non-duality and non-separation so that our solutions will draw from the brilliance of the right brain rather than the left brain (that started this whole mess in the first place). It’s time to take seriously (ha! ha!) the exercises that can stimulate the right brain, be it drawing with the less dominant hand, playing an instrument, dancing, giggling, painting, poetry, and on and on…..
To join the local (Santa Barbara/Ojai) laughter yoga googlegroup, subscribe by clicking: http://groups.google.com/group/laughteryogasantabarbaraojai
To join the local (SLO) laughter yoga listserv, subscribe by clicking:
To see Bodhisattva in Metro, visit:
A story of the three laughing monks: http://www.hopedance.org/component/content/article/53-soul/1638
To see John Cleese’s BBC report on laughing yoga, please visit:
See a sampling of film footage from Oprah’s TV show: http://www.hopedance.org/community-media/videos/468
To see an example of the laughter yoga “meditation” part of a session, visit here: http://hopedance.org/community-media/videos/453
For more information about the American School of Laughter Yoga, please visit: http://www.laughangeles.com/
For an article about Faking it, please see my exploration at: http://hopedance.org/blogs/faking-laughter-an-exploration.html
For some testimonials, please visit: http://hopedance.org/component/content/article/53-soul/1643
For schedule of sessions in SLO and SB and Ventura counties, please visit: http://www.hopedance.org/events/
For health benefits please visit: http://www.laughteryoga.us/health-benefits-of-laughter-yoga.php
Facebook (Santa Barbara & Ojai): http://www.facebook.com/LaughterYoga.SantaBarbara.Ojai
We are screening the new film LAUGHOLOGY in conjunction with leading laughter yoga sessions in both SLO and SBarbara counties. Check this site (and below for the trailer) for more details. After a particular period of time, we will stop showing Laughology. But when we get permission to screen HAPPY, we may add some laughter coponent to the film screening!
recent Chicago Tribune article (about LY’s Teachers’ Training)
Video of a portion of my Chicago training / interview with Dr. Kataria (3min): http://tinyurl.com/36qmddd
Why I Fell in Love with Laughter Yoga: http://www.hopedance.org/component/content/article/53-soul/1738
See the trailer for the new film LAUGHOLOGY: http://www.hopedance.org/community-media/videos/511
For a Laughter mini film festival (which includes all the “funny” tagged videos on this site), click HERE to begin watching and laughing….
To see my blog at the Laughter Yoga International site, please enter HERE.
Article in New Times: http://www.newtimesslo.com/strokes-and-plugs/4300/lol/
Article in Mustang Daily: http://mustangdaily.net/laughter-yoga-session-and-movie-at-library/
See this portion of a review of the film LAUGHOLOGY:
Laughter. Plato hated it, the Bible discouraged it, scientists avoided it. With his trademark blend of humour and serious investigation, Albert Nerenberg drops in on cutting edge neuroscientists and cardiologists, the inventor of Laughter Yoga, and Christian “holy laughter” groups in search of its origin and meaning. He visits the site of a severe laughter epidemic in Africa and reconvenes the folks who created The Nanny’s laugh tracks. Ultimately he finds the man with the most contagious laugh in the world. Laughology wittily weaves research, archival stills, television clips, and a hilarious send-up of the use of re-enactments in docs. Nerenberg’s quest to rediscover his own laugh has produced a film that will undoubtedly play a major role in a “global laughter trend at a crucial time when the world needs a good laugh.” – Lynne Fernie, Programmer Hot Docs
a first time youtube video from CLYT, very silly: http://www.hopedance.org/community-media/videos/609
Videos of a laughter yoga session in SLO in 3 parts!!!!
It was filmed at Sustenance Studio in SLO, CA
Doctor Oz talks about laughter yoga on his show. you need to hear the s=uff on migraines first: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/migraines-and-why-we-laugh
Video from New certified leaders of laughter yoga (9/2010 in SLO, CA)
Video of Laughter Yoga Leader Training in Santa Barbara, 11-2010: http://hopedance.org/community-media/videos/750
To see a photo of all of new SLO CLY Leader together with their certificates, please see: http://tinyurl.com/258z5hw
Thanks to Mike Brown for videotaping these snippets for future new leaders to see…..
For people who may be interested in taking future Trainings in Santa Barbara or SLO or Portland or Poland) click here for some info: http://hopedance.org/events/icalrepeat.detail/2010/11/20/4959.
Bob Banner has been a roofer, landscape laborer, window washer, writer, novelist, poet, ecstatic dance leader, right-brain workshop facilitator… and is currently playing the role of publisher, editor, web dude, screener of documentary films and a Certifiable Laughter Yoga Teacher. He can be reached at 1-(805) 235.1733 or [email protected]. He is eager and willing to travel to train people to become Certified LY Leaders.