Demystifying Laughter Yoga
24 Oct 2016

Demystifying Laughter Yoga



When you hear the expression “Laughter Yoga”, what do you hear really: laughter or yoga? If you are like me, and you did some yoga, you will be immediately intrigued…  Can yoga be different “serious Zen”?

Let me share with you my first encounter with laughter yoga, an experience that changed my perception of the world.

Like many a good story, it starts in Bali, in the beautiful city of Ubud, the capital of health of the island. Among rice fields and breathtaking panorama, hundreds of tourists gather to experience yoga retreats,  traditional medicine drinks, exfoliating massages, exotic fruits and so on (if you read “Eat, Pray, Love” you’ll know what I mean), and there sitting in a small cafe I first saw the ad for laughter yoga. I obviously had to try.

It took me two days to find the little ashram that holds the sessions. It’s located far from tourist areas and the crowd is 100% local. About 50 people are waiting for the class to start, regular people in regular clothes of all ages (from teens to elderly, housewives, mature and not so mature men) and I clearly stand out with my western yoga gear. So I sit on the floor like they all are and no one pays any attention to me. Except for one man who approaches me and engages a conversation: Who I am? Do I teach yoga? Turns out he is the leader of laughter yoga sessions here, so he felt it was appropriate to welcome me.

 And then THE question: “What is the purpose of life?” he asks me. Slightly shocked, I started going through possible answers in my head, hoping to find the one he expects from me. Not waiting for my response, he answers his own question: “The purpose of life is to be happy right here and right now”. “The brain cannot tell the difference between laughing after a joke or without a reason”, he continues his explanation, “faking laughter will make you feel as happy as any good joke”. Great, what did I get myself into?

The session starts. We all sit in a wide circle and it seems like they are cracking some jokes. Language barrier implies I absolutely don’t understand a word, so I simply sit there and smile and nod my head as if I am part of the conversation. And then, after a cue I missed, all of them, I repeat, ALL OF THEM, turned towards me, pointed their fingers at me and started laughing. Instant feeling of discomfort: what are they laughing at? Am I so out of place here? Maybe I should leave after all… The leader of the session leans towards me and explains that they are inviting me to laugh with them… Is that so? So I start laughing and pointing fingers at them… Such a strange feeling to do something so “forbidden” in our society to complete strangers. And then it fully starts: I laugh, and laugh and laugh, and I am not even sure if I find it funny or not. It’s this “crazy laughter” for no reason that goes on and on, and all the people around me do the same. I even forget to worry about how it all looks from the outside. I laugh and I am in pain: my cheeks are hurting, my abs are hurting, my head is spinning…

Slowly the session moves to calmer waters with some cute Bollywood dance, and then, finally, some sun salutations. Very simple moves, deep inhaling and slow exhaling… No need for advanced uncomfortable poses. It was my first time during a yoga practice to feel such a profound relaxation while I was fully present and mindful of my surroundings. A moment of silence for my overly active brain.

I came out of the session feeling liberated, I felt like I was flying…  Is it possible that a simple fact of laughing could change my entire perception of what I was doing at the moment? And make me feel happy for no particular reason? Can it be THE key to daily happiness?

We will be exploring more about such a feeling and more about the world of laughter yoga in this column. 

What do you think? Ready to reach Zen through laughter? Tell me your thoughts below.

Marina Staingart

copyright (c) 2016 – – Purple Empower, Inc.


image from

Marina Staingart

Engineer, Certified Laughter Yoga Leader and the owner of Medialpha Labs

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