Think yogis take themselves too seriously? We dare you to make that claim when you try laughter yoga.
That’s the practice taught at the Laughter Online University, a Los Angeles-based school with both online and in-person instruction.
The concept is that your body can’t distinguish between fake and real laughter and that by doing just 20 minutes of laughter yoga, you can get the same physiological and psychological benefits--lowered stress hormones, reduced blood pressure, eased pain and a general high-on-life feeling (thanks to the release of endorphins).
Sessions begin with arm stretches and “ha, ha, ha, ha” chants in a circle with fellow yogis. Then there’s an interlude of deep breaths and breath counting, along with more spontaneous bouts of laughing. (Watch a sample session here.)
The practice started in India in the mid-1990s, when Dr. Madan Kataria started encouraging elderly people suffering from pain and loneliness to meet in public parks and basically laugh together like jackals. Since then, it’s spread internationally--the founder even did a Ted Talk.
You can learn online, with more than 50 hours of training videos and workbooks ($125), or in person, with the next two-day group training scheduled for May 30 in Pasadena ($195).
Laughter Online University; 626-755-5999 or laughteronlineuniversity.com