As the Laughter Movement gained momentum, Dr. Kataria traveled to different parts of the world spreading the word of Laughter, and helping people to start their own Clubs. There were times when he traveled almost six to seven months in a year, which finally took its toll and he became very stressed out.
He started missing his moments with Laughter. It was then that he decided to do Laughter Exercises on his own. He tried a few exercises and continued experimenting different techniques every day. He felt great, and the result was similar to what he got from Laughter Clubs. Highly motivated, he started laughing alone for few minutes on a regular basis... That was the beginning of Laughter Yoga Alone.
Laughing Alone confirms that Laughter Yoga not only heals when practiced in a group but also when practiced alone. This exercise regime which comprises laughter and breathing exercises is very beneficial to people looking for alternative methods to laugh daily and also for patients suffering from chronic ailments and for those unable to move and exercise. Especially, in the West where Laughter Clubs meet just once a week, this is an innovative way of practicing Laughter Exercises and reaping the same health benefits as from the Clubs.
Many Leaders and Teachers tried Laughing Alone and the results were positive. People loved this new technique of Laughing Alone that helped release their feelings and maintain steady health.
It is very important to have the willingness to laugh. This factor sets a positive frame of mind and helps the person to open up and willingly do Laughter Exercises. While Laughing Alone, try to put feelings in your Laughter which will enable you to fully express yourself and release suppressed emotions.
Have A Self-Dialogue
Do not judge the quality of your Laughter. Tell yourself it's not about Real or Spontaneous Laughter. You are laughing and playing like a child only as a form of an exercise, which has scientifically proven benefits and gives more oxygen to the body to remain healthy. Appreciate and give yourself a pat each time you Laugh more and Without a Reason.
If you continue to do Laughter Yoga Alone 40 days it will become a new habit. The brain develops new circuits and the act becomes a part of your unconscious mind.
Laughter Is All About Playfulness
As Laughter is all about cultivating Childlike Playfulness, it comes straight from the body and does not make use of any intellectual capacity of the brain. This clearly indicates that the source of laughter is within the body. Thereby, one can use it whenever necessary by moving the body at will. Even when alone, one can devise methods and exercises which help induce Laughter in the body, which will soon be followed by the mind.
Though Laughter Clubs are an ideal platform to cultivate this playfulness, one can also practice the exercises while alone. In effect, Laughing Alone is the easiest way to overcome psychological barriers and inhibitions. Once you learn to play, Laughter is a natural outcome.
Laughing Alone is a revolutionary technique that helps develop a positive conditioning of joy and bodily experience of Laughter by doing laughter and breathing exercises over a period of time even without going to a Laughter Club. The brain develops new neuronal connections to produce happy neuropeptides and hormones in the body that can be triggered by the repetition of this physical action.
In NLP language, eliciting such a bodily reaction is called an "ANCHOR". By performing a joyful anchor action with the body, the mind can experience the emotion of joy complete with the chemical reactions it triggers. Our body and mind can be trained to laugh at will. It's like learning to ride a bicycle. Once learnt, you never forget it.
Every Person Is Different
There is no one way of laughing. People can develop their own comfort zone with different sounds and gestures and different postures which facilitate Laughing Alone. As each person is different, it is important, that you create your own exercises and develop new ideas to discover what works best.
More and more people are enjoying Laughing Alone. In fact, there has been quite a significant success in techniques that are playful, amusing and motivating. Once you start laughing and playing you become more creative.
Open Your Mouth Wider and Wear Loose Clothing: Don't try to keep your jaws tight. Each time you do Laughter Exercises; open your mouth a bit wider to enable laughter from the belly. If your mouth is tightly closed, laughter will come from the throat or the upper chest. Wear loose and comfortable clothes for Breathing and Laughter Exercises. The trousers should be tied below the naval and should not obstruct the abdominal movements. Try and avoid tight belts that restrict belly movement.
Duration and Ideal Time: Ideally one should spend 15 minutes each on Yoga Breathing and Laughter Exercises, with short breaks of relaxation. But you can begin with 10 minutes and gradually increase the duration. Laughter Yoga Alone should be ideally practiced the first thing in the morning as it will carry the cheerful mood and good feelings right through the day. If you don't feel like laughing early in the morning, begin with some warming up and breathing exercises. This will help to charge the body and soon facilitate laughter. You can also do it at anytime of the day to boost your energy levels.
Warming Up Exercises
Before you start laughter exercises, you must do some warm up exercises like Ho Ho Ha Ha, gibberish talking and tongue swindling and very good very good yeah are few bodily expressions of joy which you can practice. These exercises will be a lot more fun if you do them alone in front of a mirror. Do them gently in the beginning and gradually increase the intensity until you get comfortable with screaming with joy. You can change the pitch and tone of your voice to find your comfort levels.
Five Laughter Exercises for Laughing Alone
Here are some Laughter Exercises you can practice alone:
1. Fake It Until You Make It
The slogan of all Laughter Clubs is, ‘Fake it until you make it'. This is based on a scientific fact that even if you are faking a particular emotion, the body cannot differentiate between real and make belief emotions.
This is how we do fake Laughter Exercises which get converted to bouts of real laughter:
- Try faking laughter by making different sounds of laughter Ha ha ha He he he he Ho ho ho.... and keep playing with these exercises. It is a kind of silliness. You will discover that you start laughing genuinely while hearing the absurd sounds of your own laughter.
- Keep trying different ways of fake laughter sounds and you'll find some of them affordable and amusing. Stick to them and practice it more and more.
- Initially fake laughter may seem awkward but with repeated practice your body will get conditioned and the moment you start faking laughter it will get into the real laughter mode very quickly.
Voice Reinforcement Technique
Sound of Laughter
As children, we shout and scream to express ourselves fully, but as adults we have learnt to control the pitch and tone of our voice. As a result, we are not able to express our feelings to the fullest.
The freedom and expression of the voice affects the freedom of emotions in the mind and vice versa. This is the reason that everyone has a distinct sound of laughter which keeps on changing according to our state of mind and personality type. The way one laughs is a signature of one's character. Since there is a two way link between the body and the mind, by opening up your voice and sound of laughter, you can bring about a change in your emotional expression.
Keep the following points in mind while doing Laughter Yoga exercises:
- The purpose of laughter and breathing exercises is to prolong the exhalation in order to empty the lungs out completely. This will help to inhale deeply and get more oxygen flowing into your body. While doing laughter exercises, try to keep on laughing until you run out of breath. This will remove the residual air from the lungs.
- While laughing alone, keep your chin up as it becomes much easier to laugh if you are looking upwards. It makes the respiratory tract straight and facilitates the flow of air.
- Spreading your arms out and looking upwards creates a happy body language. Because of the body mind link, this happy posture leads to release of happy chemicals in the brain.
Voice Reinforcement Helps Bring Laughter Easily.
You can try this technique in two ways:
a) Take a long breath and start saying Haaaa Haaaa Haaaa Haaaaa Haaa five to seven times. Then try to laugh and keep laughing until you run out of breath. Keep in mind that the sound of Haaaaa Haaaaa and laughter should continue within the same breath so as to empty the lungs out completely. In the beginning it might feel a bit awkward but soon you'll start getting bouts of real laughter.
b) Use the vowel sounds Aeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee and prolong it while raising your arms over your head. Keep your chin up and laugh ha ha ha ha Repeat the same with Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa......and Ooooooooooooooooo............ Do it five to six times and take a few deep breaths in between.
Voice Reinforcement Techniques are best performed while standing but you can also do them lying down. Some people find it easier to laugh in this position, as bringing the knees towards the chest helps to expel the air easily.
Childlike giggling is also a great way of doing Laughter Yoga exercises alone.
2. Breath Holding Technique
Take a long breath, raise your arms over your head and hold your breath while stretching the spine backwards. As you try to hold the breath a little longer, you will burst out laughing. It builds up pressure inside the lungs and facilitates laughter and gradually the brain develops new connections of combining breathing, stretching and holding the breath with laughter. It becomes a conditioned reflex. You can easily do it alone at home because it has been programmed into your body.
A New Variation
Another variation of this technique is to keep your eyes closed and take a long breath. Try to hold it as long as possible and hold the urge to laugh. In your anticipation of laughter, you will really burst out laughing. In the beginning do it deliberately or pretend to laugh but soon you will experience the real feelings and laughter will be more spontaneous.
3. One-Meter Laughter
It is preferably done in a standing position but can also be done while sitting. Stand with your feet a little apart and take both your hands to the left. Then slide one arm over the other and stretch it to the opposite shoulder as in measuring one meter piece of fabric. There are three stages as you do this: First is when you touch the elbow while sliding, second is when you reach the opposite shoulder and the final position is when you stretch both your arms, push your chin up, open your mouth a bit wider and laugh heartily.
This technique helps the movement of he diaphragm and allows laughter to flow easily straight from the belly. It has a cathartic effect you can release all pent up emotions and feelings and experience a sense of joy and freedom.
4. Aloooha Laughter
Derived from the traditional Hawaiian greeting it is very stimulating and provides for a better circulation as the body movements facilitate an improved supply of blood to the brain. If practiced alone it also give you freedom of space to share moments of laughter all by yourself, thus giving you a feeling of well being and joy.
It is ideally performed in the morning, right after you wake up, straight on the bed. Sit on your knees and place some cushions in front of you. Raise your arms, push up your chin and start saying a pronged Aloooooo in a crescendo. Then end it by saying a loud Haaa and laugh heartily. Go down as you do this and dig your head into the cushions---carry on laughing and don't stop if you're enjoying it.
As you dig into the cushions you can also cover your head with your arms and continue to laugh. This helps in the flow of air and lots of of people find it very stimulating. They even go hysterical and laugh longer to experience a total feeling of release.
This can also be performed while standing. Just raise your arms , put up your chin and say Aloooo in a crescendo. End it with saying Haaaa and laughing out loud.
This exercise should not be attempted by people suffering from positional vertigo as hey might feel giddy on bending down. Also remember to pad your bed well with cushions so that you don't hurt yourself as you bend down.
5. Holding Your Knees Laughter
This exercise helps facilitate the upward movement of the diaphragm by pressing the abdominal muscles. It also helps to increase the blood flow to the brain thus improving the circulation. It involves simple steps of pulling in the knees and releasing them as you exhale and inhale.
- Lie down on your back, hold your knees together with both your hands and slowly bring them closer to your chest.
- While doing this, push your chin upwards and keep your mouth a little open and exhale. This helps to straighten the respiratory tract and allows better and free flow of air.
- In the next step, release your knees and inhale while taking in deep breaths.
How Do We Use this Technique in Laughter Yoga Alone?
As you bring your knees closer and push your chin upwards use the sound reinforcement technique of laughter. Say a prolonged Haaaaaaa in a crescendo and then start laughing. Take a few deep breaths in between the bouts of laughter. While laughing you can either keep your eyes open or closed depending on whatever makes you more comfortable and helps you laugh easily.