What Happens During a Laughter Session?
Dr. Kataria's School of Laughter Yoga
Time and Place: Ideally,
a laughing session must take place in the morning. There are many reasons for
this. It is always better to start the day with laughter. It keeps you in good
spirits and in a good mood
throughout the day. It energises you and 15-20 minutes of laughter is carried
throughout the day till you retire to bed. Though it is beneficial even if you
laugh in the evenings, according to our experience, mornings are ideal. Because
in the evening, everybody has his own time to come home and has other
engagements. In western countries, during winter it is not possible to laugh in
the morning. Health clubs, yoga groups, sports groups, work places like
factories and offices are the right places when people can gather first thing in
the morning and laugh in a group.
In organisations, the laughter session starts according to the time of commencement of office hours. We recommend that people laugh before starting their work. Many factories begin with prayers and then laughter. The total duration of one session should not be more than 20 minutes, including laughter, deep breathing and stretching exercises.
Laughter Club Members Stand: All the members stand in
a circle or semicircle, according to the space available, with the anchor person
in the middle. He or she gives commands to initiate different types of laughter
and exercises. The most important point to be noted here is that the members
should not stand in a line to form a circle, as seen in military parades. The
idea is that one should not feel conscious about breaking the circle or the line.
It should be like a crowd format with people standing at random. The distance
between members should not be more than 2-3 feet, the stretch of the arms, as
members are supposed to look into each others’ eyes and laugh. If the distance
is more, the eye contact will not be effective enough to stimulate a person to
laugh. Moreover, members should not stick to one place throughout the session.
During each type of laughter, one should go up to different people and laugh
with them with good sustained eye contact, or
strike hands with each other whenever possible, depending upon the type
A 20-minute session is a perfect blend of stimulated laughter, deep breathing and stretching exercises. One bout of laughter lasts for 30 seconds to 45 seconds. After each bout of laughter, or sometimes after two bouts, two deep breaths are taken, in order to give a break. This avoids exertion and tiredness. Sometimes, various neck, shoulder and arm stretching exercises are done in place of deep breathing between bouts of laughters.
I: Deep Breathing: The session starts when one takes a
deep breath through the nostrils, simultaneously raising the arms up towards the
sky, at an angle of 45 degrees from the middle of the body. The breathing in
should be rhythmic, in accordance with movement of the arms and one should keep
on filling air into the lungs, as much as possible, and then hold one's breath
for 4 seconds. Then the breath is released slowly and rhythmically by bringing
the stretched arms back to normal position. One can breathe out through the nose
or preferably through the mouth by pursing the lips, as if whistling silently.
By breathing out through the mouth like this, one can prolong the expiration, so
as to also remove the residual air, which is normally held back in the lungs
even after one exhales. Removing this residual air which contains more corbon
dioxide, and replacing it with fresh air containing more oxygen increases the
net supply of oxygen to the body. This is in accordance with yogic deep
breathing (a type of paranayama) where
the duration of exhalation is prolonged almost double the time of inhalation.
Deep breathing is a very valuable exercise for maintaining both physical and mental health. It increases the vital capacity of the lungs and keeps all the air cells operational to participate in the exchanges of gases. It also prevents bacterial infections in respiratory tracts, thereby being helpful to those suffering from asthma and bronchitis. Deep breathing cools down the mind and enhances mental stability.
II: Ho-Ho Ha-Ha Exercise: All the members start
chanting Ho-Ho Ha-Ha in unison, with rhythmic clapping 1-2, 1-2-3. (Ho-Ho;
Ha-Ha-Ha). The sound should come from the naval, so as to feel the movement of
abdominal muscles, while keep the mouth half open. While chanting Ho-Ho Ha-Ha, a
smile should be maintained and the head and the body should swing forward and
backward as if one is enjoying the exercise. This can go on for up to one
III: Hearty Laughter: After the Ho-Ho Ha-Ha exercise,
the first kind of laughter is hearty laughter. To initiate all kinds of laughter
the anchor person gives a command 1,2,3... and everybody start laughing at the
same time. It builds up a good tempo and the effect is much better, rather than
different members laughing with different timings. In a hearty laugh, one laughs
by throwing the arms up and laughing heartily. One should not keep the arms
stretched up all the time during a hearty laugh. Keep the arms up for a while
and bring them down and again raise them up. At the end of a hearty laugh, the
anchor person starts clapping and chanting Ho-Ho Ha-Ha 5-6 times. That marks the
end of a particular kind of laughter. This is followed by two deep breaths.
IV: Greeting Laughter: Again under the command of the
anchor person, the members come a little closer to each other and greet each
other with a particular gesture, while laughing in a medium tone and maintaining
eye contact. One can join both the hands (Namaste
laughter), or do Aadaab Laughter
by moving one hand closer to the face (as Muslims greet each other), or one can
bend at the hips and laugh by looking in the eyes of the neighbour (Japanese way)
or there could many other ways of greeting according to the region, state or
country. This is followed by Ho-Ho
Ha-Ha chanting and clapping 5-6 times and deep breathing twice.
V: Silent Laughter With mouth wide open: In this type
of laughter, the mouth is opened as wide as possible and participants laugh
looking at each others’ faces and making different gestures showing their
palms to each other, shaking their heads and sometimes their hands. Silent
Laughter should be done with quick movements of the abdominal muscles as we do
during spontaneous laughter. It should not be like a prolonged hissing sound,
which looks more artificial.
One should not apply excess force or over exert while
laughing without sound. It can be harmful if intra-abdominal pressure is raised
unnecessarily. One should try to impart more feeling rather than applying too
VI: Humming Laughter With Lips Closed: In this type of
laughter, the lips are closed and a person tries to laugh while making a humming
sound which resonates throughout the skull. People can keep on looking at each
other, making some gestures to stimulate each other. Some people also call it
One should not try to laugh without sound while
keeping the mouth closed with force. This raises undue pressure in the abdominal
cavity that may be harmful.
VII: Medium Laughter: In
this type of laughter, one laughs gently in a medium tone while going up to
another person, or strikes palms with each other, either above the head or below
the chest or both. There is lot of movement in the group as one should try to
laugh and meet 4-5 different persons. This is very enjoyable as it is gentle and
can be prolonged a bit, Plus there is interaction between various members.
VIII: Swinging Laughter: This is an interesting kind
laughter as it has a lot of
playfulness. All the member move outwards by two meters to widen the circle. On
instruction from the anchor person people move forward by making a prolonged
sound of Ae Ae- Aeeeee....., simultaneously raising the hands and they all burst
into laughter while meeting in the center and waving their hands. After the bout
of laughter, they move back to their original position. The second time they
move forward by saying Oh- Ooooooo.. and burst into laughter. Similarly, the
third and fourth times they make the sounds of Eh- Eh... E.... and Oh- Oh...
O... Many people are seen behaving like children and enjoying the fun.
IX: One-Meter Laughter: This
is the invention of a Laughter Club member dealing in cloth merchandise.
It duplicates how we measure an imaginary one meter by moving one hand
over the stretched arm of the other
side and extending the shoulder. The hand is moved in three jerks by chanting Ae....,
Ae....., Aeee..... and then participants burst into laughter by stretching both
the arms. First the imaginary
measurement is done on the left side and then on the right. This cycle is
repeated twice. Again, this laughter has a playful quality. People enjoy the
chanting of Ae... Ae.. in a staccato manner.
X: Lion Laughter: This particular laughter has been
derived from a yogic posture known as Simha
Mudra (Lion Posture). In the lion posture, the tongue is fully extruded by
opening the mouth wide, while eyes are kept wide open and hands are posed like
the paws of a lion and the person roars like a lion. In Lion Laughter, the basic
position remains the same as stated above. The only difference is that people
laugh with the tongue fully extruded instead of roaring. Lion Laughter gives
very good exercise to facial muscles, the tongue and throat. It is also supposed
to be good for the healthy functioning of the thyroid gland.
XI: Argument Laughter: This laughter is competitive
laughter between two groups separated by a
gap. Two groups look at each other and start laughing by pointing the index
finger at the members of the other group. Usually, the women are on one side and
men on the other. This is also quite enjoyable and helps to convert forced
laughter into spontaneous giggles.
XII: Dancing Laughter: Members
are instructed by the anchor person to dance in the funniest way and laugh. This
is very stimulating and enjoyable as many people come up with hilarious dance
steps. All these types of laughter are intended to remove inhibitions and make a
person more open and extrovert.
XIII: Musical Laughter: This is not exactly a type of
laughter but a singing of Ho-Ho Ha-Ha-Ha in a chorus based on folk dances,
popular songs or any rhythm like conducting an orchestra by chanting only Ho-Ho
Ha-Ha. Occasionally some giggles are added to make it interesting. This laughter
has many variations, depending upon the state and cultural group.
XIV: Gradient Laughter: This laughter is practised at the end of the session. All the
members are asked to come closer to the anchor person. Gradient laughter starts
with bringing smiles on faces and looking around at each other. Slowly, gentle
giggles are added by the anchor person. Others follow and start giggling too.
Slowly the intensity of laughter is increased further. And then the members
gradually burst into hearty laughter. This goes on for about a minute. It is
very refreshing and infectious.
XV: Closing Technique: At the end of the session three
slogans are shouted. The anchor person delivers the first punchline by saying
“We are the happiest people in the world." Everyone raises their arms and
says. Y-e-ee-s. ''We are the
healthiest people in the world!'' Y-e-s. "We
are Laughter Club members!" Y-e-e-s.
and Shoulder Exercises: Since
there is some fatigue after completion of the first round, members need to take
a break before starting the second round. Here, neck and shoulder exercises are
done. They have been incorporated because cervical spondylosis, neck stiffness
and frozen shoulder are common
complaints after the age of forty.
Guidelines for a Laughter Session: 1.
All the participants will start laughing at the same time when the anchor
person gives the command 1,2...3.
People should not stand far away from each other. To laugh without jokes,
eye contact is the key. During each type of laughter a person must maintain good
eye contact with more than one of his neighbours.
Do not apply too much force while laughing, it should be more of a feeling and
enjoying of the process.
One should try to feel free like a child and make funny gestures to make others
Should not participate in laughter session?
Any person who feels any discomfort in any part of the body, must get himself
examined by a doctor and work out his physical fitness status before joining the
A mildly heavy head, after a laughter session in the beginning, is normal. Such
individuals must not overexert and laugh forcefully. If you are already a
hypertensive patient, get your blood pressure checked at least once in ten days.
Don’t participate in laughter sessions if your blood pressure is high and
uncontrolled. However, those taking treatment and keeping blood pressure within
normal limits can join the sessions.
Any heart patient on treatment, or one who has had heart attack in the
past must get clearance from his cardiologist before joining laughter sessions.
Those with a history of heart attacks and those who have had bypass operations
done, may join the session if their treadmill (stress test) results are within
Hernia: Hernia is a protusion of abdominal contents -
various parts of the intestine mostly the small intestine - through the weakened
wall of abdominal muscles. In those who have undergone any abdominal surgery,
the site of the incision becomes the weakest point. With a repeated increase in
intra-abdominal pressure one might get an incisional hernia. Another common type
of hernia occurs at the groin. The abdominal contents can protrude through the
inguinal canal and produce a swelling in the groin area while coughing, sneezing
and laughing. Elderly people are more prone to this condition because of muscles
weakened by advancing age. Those suffering from a long-standing cough due to
asthma or chronic bronchitis, should be extra careful because they are more
prone to developing hernia.
If someone gets swelling on any part of the abdomen or discomfort while laughing, they must get themselves examined by a general surgeon. If diagnosed to be suffering from hernia, once surgical correction is done, one should be assessed by a surgeon for fitness before attending laughter therapy.
Advanced Piles (Haemorrhoids): Those suffering from
piles with active bleeding, or are at a stage when piles protrude from the anus,
should not join the laughter session, as these conditions may worsen with
increase of intra-abdominal pressure. The patient may join a Laughter Club once
surgical or other type of treatment is taken.
Recent Surgery: To be on the safe
side, one should not join a laughter session, within three months of any major
operation, especially on the abdomen. In the later case, one must get a go-ahead
from one's surgeon.
Uterovaginal Prolapse: In some women, ligaments
supporting the uterus become weak after the age of 40. Downward sagging of the
uterus occurs, causing discomfort in the lower abdomen. One of the signs of such
prolapse is involuntary passage of urine while coughing, sneezing and laughing.
Such women should avoid laughter sessions until they are treated surgically.
Pregnancy: In a small percentage of pregnant women,
there is a possibility of abortion if there is a repeated rise in
intra-abdominal pressure and they should avoid laughter sessions, till some
conclusive data is available, after conducting research on the effects of
laughter on pregnancy.
9. During attacks of Cold and Flu: Acute viral infections are highly contagious and if a person with such an infection laughs, he is likely to spread the infection by way of droplets in the air. People should stay away for about a week once they catch a cold. The good news is that regular laughter therapy increases the resistance of the upper respiratory mucous membrane and people are getting fewer coughs and colds, as shown by a recent survey done in the first phase of clinical research on Laughter Clubs.
Eye Complications: Any person with high intra-ocular
pressure (glaucoma) with a history of rational or vitreous hemorrhage should
take the opinion of an ophthalmologist before joining a Laughter Club.
tel.: +45 35 38 45 42