Alternate Activity 2: Laughter Yoga
Activity time: 20 minutes
Preparation for Activity
- Read the Description of Activity, and practice the Laughter Yoga exercises until confident leading this activity. Or, invite a guest leader.
- Optional: Learn more about teaching Laughter Yoga to children on the Live Strong website.
- Optional: On YouTube, view video of Laughter Yoga.
Description of Activity
Children experience the capacity of laughter and playfulness to promote emotional and physical well-being, while learning a spiritual tool for shifting the state of their consciousness and nurturing positive energy. Children are encouraged to think about how laughter and playfulness might be part of the web of life.
Gather the group in a standing circle. Ask if anyone has heard of yoga. Briefly explain that they will learn how to do a special kind of yoga, called laughter yoga. Explain that in laughter yoga, they will laugh even if there is nothing funny. Assure them that although it might feel a little strange at first, soon they will be laughing for real. Tell them people who do laughter yoga say laughter is so good for your body that even pretending to laugh is good for you. Tell them you will do a few laughter yoga exercises together and when they hear you clap they should copy what you are doing.
Have participants stand up straight with their feet together, toes slightly apart, and hands on their bellies. Invite them to close their eyes for a moment and notice how their bodies feel. Is anything uncomfortable? Do they feel relaxed? Happy? Worried? Ask them to open their eyes and take a deep breath in so that the breath goes all the way down to their bellies and they can feel their bellies rise underneath their hands. When they exhale they should laugh rhythmically "ha, ha, ha, ha, ha... !" Repeat these actions together for a couple of minutes. End this exercise by holding your hands up over your head and clapping twice while saying, "ho, ho," and then three times, saying, "ha, ha, ha." Do this a few times until all children are doing it with you. Then stop and invite everyone to stand still and pay attention to their breathing again, silently noticing their body and how they feel.
Next, instruct the children to move around the room greeting each other, shaking hands. However, instead of greeting each other in words, they should laugh their greeting. They can greet the same person more than once. Repeat for a few minutes.
Again, after a few minutes of laughter, end the exercise by clapping twice and saying, "ho, ho," then saying "ha, ha, ha" three times. Continue until everyone has joined you. Then, stop, and invite participants to stand quietly and pay attention to their breathing with their hands on their bellies, taking deep breaths so they can feel their bellies rising up. Invite them to notice how their bodies are feeling.
Process the activity with questions such as:
- What differences did you notice in your bodies before and after you were laughing?
- I wonder if this was easy or hard to do.
- I wonder how it felt when you were laughing.
- I wonder how laughter is part of the web of life.
- When you are laughing, how do you feel in your body? In your heart and spirit?
- I wonder what it would be like if all people everywhere spent time doing laughter yoga every day.
- I wonder if how laughter yoga might help us when we are afraid or angry.
Including All Participants
A participant who uses a wheelchair can do the Laughter Yoga exercises from a seated position.