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How To Lead A Laughter Yoga Class: Step-by-Step Guide To Success

how to lead a laughter yoga class

If you want to deliver exciting yoga classes, you may look for new ways to mix classes up and consider looking into how to lead laughter yoga.

Laughter is contagious, so it’s not surprising that laughter yoga has spread like wildfire across the world and there’s no better time to get into this new form of yoga!

Before we begin, if you’re looking to begin a career in yoga, OriGym’s multi-award nominated Level 3 Yoga Course is the perfect place to start, with flexible online learning, and support available 7 days a week.

You can also learn about our additional courses by downloading our complete course prospectus.

Step 1 - Begin Teaching Laughter Yoga By Opening With A Welcome

instruct a laughter yoga class

Laughter yoga is a relatively new addition to the world of yoga, becoming popular in the late 90s. When teaching laughter yoga, you should keep 3 key parts of the practice in mind:

  • Deep: The laughter should come from the belly rather than the chest. You can only fully expand the lungs when you breathe in deeply, stretch out the diaphragm and feel the benefits.
  • Extended: Exhalation is extended through the belly laugh, which quickly expels air from the lungs, allowing them to fill with fresh air on the inhale.
  • Unconditional: The laughter in this style of yoga should be unconditional. You don’t require something funny to happen; simply commit to willingly participate. After some forced laughter, authentic laughs will soon flow freely.

Each of these tenets should be included in your laughter yoga session plan, which you can remind your students of throughout the class to help them achieve the intentions of the yoga class.

After you've discovered who you're teaching and their level of experience, you may include a brief definition of laughter yoga, especially so if you’re teaching a beginner yoga class. 

Alternatively, if your class is familiar with the practice, a brief run-down will help freshen their memories. 

how to teach laughter yoga

Laughter yoga uses planned, simulated laughter during a gentle yogic practice as a form of physical exercise. 

The practice is built around the philosophy that combines laughter with the deep breathing of yoga.

This helps bring more oxygen to the body and brain, creating biological and physical benefits, including improvements in mood and releasing tension.

Laughter yoga doesn’t involve traditional yogic asanas. It uses aspects of deep breathing and gentle stretches, along with laughter exercises to deepen your breathing and increase your oxygen intake to enhance the therapeutic effects of laughter.

When you teach laughter yoga, an effective way to open your yoga class is to welcome students, ask them to introduce themselves, and then explain what laughter yoga is. Following this, you can choose to explain what the session will entail.

how to lead laughter yoga 6

When you teach laughter yoga, an effective opening is to welcome the class, ask the students to introduce themselves and explain what laughter yoga is. Following this, you can choose to explain what the session will entail.

Many laughter yoga sessions begin with breathing techniques, clapping and chanting. These are designed to help people relax, reducing their insecurity about laughing in front of strangers.

You could start by clapping rhythmically whilst chanting. You’ll get some nervous giggling at this stage, but that’s the point - you want to create a space free of internal and external judgement.

 

Get Qualified As A Laughter Yoga Teacher!

Become a yoga teacher with OriGym through one of our multi-award nominated courses!

Step 2 - Continue Your Laughter Yoga Session Plan With Stretches

laughter yoga techniques 1

When you’re learning how to teach laughter yoga, you should move into a gentle warm-up involving the body and voice, after the initial introduction.

If students don’t warm up their voices, they risk damaging their vocal cords if they decide to laugh too harshly.

To warm up the body, use beginner-friendly poses like:

  • Easy pose (Sukhasana)
  • Forward bends
  • Child’s pose

Since you're building a yoga sequence that doesn't include complicated asanas, you don't need to worry too much about performing difficult poses.

laughter yoga benefits 2

It’s important to warm up the vocal cords gently. Sudden bursts of sound can cause vocal fold damage and students could leave your class early and in pain. 

Try the following exercises to ready the voice for laughter:

  • Descending Slides: Lip flutters and descending five-note slides (moving from “oh” to “ah”), with a small trill on the lowest note, can be a great warm-up for the more delicate vocal folds. 
  • Humming: Place the tip of your tongue behind your bottom front teeth and hum up and down a scale, keeping your mouth closed.
  • Vocal Sirens: Much like the slides, the siren exercise takes an “oooh” sound and gradually moves from your highest note to your lowest and back up again, mimicking the siren from an emergency vehicle!

When you’re teaching a laughter yoga warm-up, both the body and voice should warm up together. 

Encourage your students to make “ha-ha, ho-ho” noises while circling their shoulders, moving between poses and stretching their arms.

Keeping your class playful will help your class reap the benefits of laughter yoga. The more you allow yourself to laugh and be playful, the more fun you and your students will have. 

Plus, the longer you laugh, the more genuine and contagious it becomes.

Step 3 - Your Laughter Yoga Sequence Should Continue With Simple Exercises

how to lead laughter yoga 4

When you’re creating your laughter yoga lesson plan, keep in mind that the bulk of the session will be made up of laughter yoga exercises and breathing exercises. 

Lead the class through playful behaviours with childlike responses, interspersing it with a breathing exercise.

Depending on the fitness level of the group, these will happen between every one to three laughter exercises and allow the students to laugh longer.

In laughter yoga, you want to be able to laugh pretty much consistently for a minimum of ten minutes. 

This is difficult to do naturally as regular laughter lasts a few seconds but laughter yoga is designed to bring about physiological and biochemical changes, reducing levels of stress and anxiety.

how to teach laughter yoga 2

If you want some ideas of laughter yoga techniques to get you started, check out our examples below:

  • Mobile Phone Laughter: Get your students to hold an imaginary phone to their ear and laugh, replacing words with laughter.
  • High Five and Miss: Your students pretend to high-five but miss each other every time and then just laugh.
  • Gradient Laughter: Fake a smile, force a giggle, and then continue to laugh slowly while gradually increasing the tempo and volume of the laughter.
  • Greeting Laughter: Get your students to greet their mat neighbours the way they usually would, with a wave or handshake but replace their words with laughter.
  • Electric Shock Laughter: Ask your students to imagine that everything and everyone they touch gives them an electric shock. Get them to jump backwards and laugh each time it happens, and encourage them to make it happen a lot.

Remember that you can incorporate more common yoga poses when you instruct a laughter yoga class, such as the lion pose, which is derived from the Simha Mudra yogic pose. 

Ask your students to get on all fours, thrust out their tongues, widen their eyes, and stretch their hands out like a lion’s claws. Normally you would roar but this can be replaced with laughter for laughter yoga!

You can even try the Namaste pose by asking your students to practise greeting each other with the words ‘Namaste’ while joining both hands (while standing), bowing forward slightly, looking into one another’s eyes and laughing.

teach laughter yoga 2

Throughout the exercises, remind your students of the key components of laughter yoga again - breathe deeply for an extended amount of time and laugh unconditionally.

It may also be worth encouraging your class to maintain a sense of childlike playfulness and openness so that they can fully reap the laughter yoga benefits.

Step 4 - Cool Down Your Laughter Yoga Session With Meditative Laughter

laughter yoga lesson plan

Cooling down is an important part of laughter yoga. It helps combat the dizziness and light-headedness that occur after intense exercising, allowing your blood flow to return to normal.

A cooldown can also act as a transition between your workout and the return to normal life, aiming to calm you down and end a workout on a relaxed note. 

Laughter meditation, for example, will not put too much of a strain on participants' physical bodies, but this transitionary period is still important.

When teaching laughter yoga meditation, you drop the previous laughter exercises and allow the students to laugh freely. 

There is no talking or performance to make each other laugh, so don’t force anyone to laugh at this point.

In laughter meditation, you don’t want to laugh longer than 20 minutes. Remind the students to breathe regularly as this helps to prolong the ability to laugh.

laughter yoga benefits 1

One of the main benefits is that the calming, mindful state of laughter meditation allows students to compartmentalise what they’ve learned throughout the session. 

This means organising thoughts and feelings so that they are easier to comprehend and manage, especially on a day-to-day basis. 

Emotional well-being is important, taking a moment before you begin the guided meditation to talk to your students about how to ensure a positive outcome. You may want to speak about:

  • Identifying emotions
  • Grouping them together
  • Avoiding false negativity
  • Maintaining boundaries

If you’re wondering how to lead laughter yoga meditation, invite the class to begin the laughter meditation with their eyes open. 

You can have them sit in an inward-facing circle to make eye contact (which will make the giggles flow more easily) or have them sit back to back to feel each other’s laughter while feeling supported by the other person.

teaching laughter yoga 2

After about 5 minutes, ask the class to take a few deep breaths and observe a moment in silence. They can even lie down to feel more comfortable. 

They can begin laughing again and gradually deepen the laugh, inhaling and exhaling fully. Allow this laughter to flow for another 5 minutes. Your students can better internalise their laughter when lying down with their eyes closed.

Cathartic moments are to be expected during laughter yoga and particularly during this contemplative state. Sometimes a deep belly laugh brings forth blocked emotions. 

If you notice a student crying or laughing incredibly hard, comfort them by explaining that this process is completely normal.

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Get Qualified As A Laughter Yoga Teacher!

Become a yoga teacher with OriGym through one of our multi-award nominated courses!

Step 5 - Close Out Your Laughter Yoga Session With A Grounding Exercise

how to lead laughter yoga 5

The final step in your laughter yoga session plan should be a grounding exercise to round out the class. This is where students will relax, cool down and lower their heart rates.

Grounding is the act of connecting with the earth both spiritually and physically. On a spiritual level, this involves tapping into the grounding energy of the earth and the universe.

On a physical level, it involves practising poses, savasana or other grounding exercises that facilitate the spiritual connection to the earth below.

Grounding is an important practice after engaging in activities like laughter yoga, as it helps your students to feel balanced, connected and safe. 

Whilst most people feel relieved and energised after a laughter yoga session, there are a few people who may be emotionally overwhelmed and feel like crying.

Below are some examples of grounding techniques you can use for laughter yoga:

Practice Yoga Nidra To Help Students Return To A Relaxing State

laughter yoga session plan

After completing a laughter yoga sequence and meditation, energy levels can still be surprisingly high. 

To reduce them, you may want to lead your class in Yoga Nidra, commonly known as a guided meditation that originates from tantric yogic practices.

Yoga Nidra produces a wakeful state of deep introversion that relaxes and rejuvenates. If you are curious about how to teach laughter Yoga Nidra, the easiest way to get to grips with it is to think of the body as a map.

Begin by relaxing the feet, then guide the relaxation up the body to the crown of the head, pausing at major body parts to focus on the relaxation of each part. 

The practice is completed by reinstating the intentions, which, in this higher and more open state of mind, has the potential to bring real-world, positive change. You can also take time here to refresh students’ minds about the key tenets of laughter yoga.

Humming Allows Students To Feel Calm And Bond As A Group

laughter yoga session plan 1

Humming can strongly influence the autonomic nervous system. This can activate the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for relaxation. 

The best results of this exercise are completed in a group setting, making it perfect for a laughter yoga grounding exercise.

Humming as a group creates a unique resonance, which is very calming and bonding for the group. 

When you teach laughter yoga and ask students to hum, instruct them to hum for as long as they can and then inhale and repeat. They should do this with their eyes closed for a maximum of 10 minutes.

Grounding Dance Can Help Students Align Their Breathing To Their Body 

how to lead laughter yoga

Grounding dances are used commonly in laughter clubs after a laughter session and meditation. The practice is designed to gently guide you to connect your breathing with the elements and align your body to your heart and emotions.

Laughter yoga sequences are powerful and dynamic workouts, and the dance is a spiritual method designed to move the energy through your body, opening up the deep layers of the subconscious mind. 

You use hand movements to direct the energy towards the ground, improving the grounded feeling and making your students feel emotionally stable.

 

Get Qualified As A Laughter Yoga Teacher!

Become a yoga teacher with OriGym through one of our multi-award nominated courses!

5 Key Tips On How To Teach Laughter Yoga Effectively

#1 - Breaking The Ice Is Key When Teaching Laughter Yoga

teaching laughter yoga

Teaching laughter yoga is a rewarding practice but it may take time for your class to feel comfortable. 

It’s your job as the instructor to break the ice with the class and ensure everyone is relaxed. There are a few different exercises you could use, such as:

  • Shake It Out: If you begin the class in a standing position, encourage your students to wiggle and jump around so that they feel each of their muscles bouncing the more they relax. This doubly serves as an easy way to get natural smiles and laughter started.
  • Letters: Ask members of the class to introduce themselves using their bodies to make the shape of the first letter of their name. This allows fun conversations to flow easily between classmates.

You could use yoga class music here, too. In traditional yoga, you’d choose genres like ambient, electronic, or classical. 

Remember, when you instruct a laughter yoga class, you have more freedom to choose more upbeat or humorous songs.

Just ensure you use good quality music and speakers and play it at a volume that can be heard by students without you having to shout.

#2 - Consider Your Group Size When Leading Laughter Yoga

laughter yoga techniques

If you are teaching laughter yoga for the first time, you might not be aware of the recommended class sizes. They can be small or large, depending on the space where your class is held.

You’ll need at least 5 to 15 people to form a good group dynamic. This will make it easier for those who may be nervous to laugh and join in.

Working as a teacher, you won’t have to spend much energy keeping the bubbly dynamic going with a large group. 

With smaller groups, insecurities will be more evident, meaning you have to spend more effort to keep the group dynamic going.

You’re more likely to laugh when others are around as laughter brings people together because it’s fun and inviting.

 

#3 - Exercise Your Creative Flair In Your Laughter Yoga Lesson Plan

teaching laughter yoga 1

When you’re designing your laughter yoga session plan you have more creative freedom than when you’re making a traditional yoga class plan. 

Allow yourself to enter a more fun and playful mindset even when planning and this will shine through during the session.

This will prevent clients from growing tired of the same routines and engaging with the laughter yoga techniques you’re demonstrating.

Try varying the pace with new exercises, too: start slow, build up, slow down, build up, etc. You could even incorporate yoga class themes, which we'll go deeper into later.

how to teach laughter yoga 1

If you have a social media following for your yoga studio, use Instagram or Facebook polls to see what your students want to be doing or to gather ideas. 

You can even choose a trusted student or group of students to take over a class - though interrupt and take over if you feel things going off course!

#4 - Keep An Intention In Mind For Your Laughter Yoga Sessions

how to lead laughter yoga 3

Research has shown that setting intentions can help students achieve goals more easily as well as strengthen the mind-body connection.

You can start with the intention of gratitude and consider the purpose of the practice. This can help your class set further intentions that align with their goals.

When you ask your class to consider their intentions, remind them to use that intention to anchor themselves during the practice when their mind wanders off. 

Intentions can include: 

  • Being kind to yourself
  • Focusing on your own body
  • Not comparing yourself to those around you

Giving students the luxury of contemplating what makes them happy, leads to a laughter yoga session full of growth, setting intentions that can be done off the mat in your students’ daily life.

teach laughter yoga 1

For example, you could encourage students to set intentions in the morning of each day to give themselves some positive guidance for the day ahead. 

At the end of the day, they could spend their downtime meditating on the intention and the ways it influenced their behaviour throughout the day.

 

Get Qualified As A Laughter Yoga Teacher!

Become a yoga teacher with OriGym through one of our multi-award nominated courses!

#5 - Using A Theme Helps Elevate Your Laughter Yoga Sequences

laughter yoga sequence 1

A theme is like the guiding light of your class. It aids in building trust between you and your students while helping them generate insight about themselves, their life, and their bodies.  

Choosing a theme is arguably the most difficult part of guiding a yoga class, but it’s also one of the most important.

Other than setting the tone for the session, unique themes can be what makes you stand out from other instructors and lead to higher attendance rates.

Consider using the following themes to get your students feeling the most laughter yoga benefits:

  • Letting Go
  • Third Eye Opening
  • Gratitude
  • Unity
  • Spring Detox
  • Self-Discovery

Whilst carrying out a laughter yoga class, avoid themes that oppose the aim of the class. Themes like ‘sit in silence’ will feel jarring against an energetic laughter yoga session. 

laughter yoga benefits

Choose a theme that supports your verbal cues as well. Having a set theme can help you keep your words succinct and on topic, allowing you to communicate the aims of the class effectively. 

This level of clear communication aids in building trust between your students and yourself, making the time you spend with your class more beneficial for everyone involved.

Before You Go!

Learning how to lead a laughter yoga session is immensely rewarding, and offers a unique way to interact with your class, as well as the wider yoga community.

Remember, you can kickstart your yoga career with OriGym’s Level 3 Yoga Course, which you can complete in as little as 4 months!

You can also download our free course prospectus to discover the range of courses we offer, and expand your skill set.

Written by Erin McDonough

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Erin holds a BA in English Language and Linguistics, which she attained whilst studying at Bangor University. Whilst studying, she found a passion for editing and writing, and has worked with writers from the Wirral and Liverpool area over the past 3 years. Erin also has a keen interest in strength training and yoga, often incorporating mindfulness techniques into the latter. Outside of work, Erin can be found gaming, catching up with the newest book releases, or song writing.

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