Category Archives: nls: natural laughter skills

Laughter yoga: how playful movement heals


Movement heals – the body can heal the mind.
Laughter yoga is playful.
Playful movement can break old patterns.
Laughter yoga can break old patterns.

At least once on every course there is a instance where an embodiment, movement, dance and/or physical playfulness exercise ‘breaks’ a mindset and helps someone free themselves from an old pattern.

Every time, this exercise is spontaneous, ‘in the moment’, done specifically for that particular person, with the whole group taking part and therefore supporting this liberation process. Magic happens and there are usually tears – tears of relief, of alchemy, of frustration transformed into freedom.

This light-heartedness is liberating.

True spirituality means not taking ourselves too seriously: Deepak Chopra Click To Tweet

In a recent example, someone was terrorised by their rigid high standards. They had to do a presentation and were beating themselves up about it not being ‘good enough’, even though they had been given specific permission to experiment and allow their exercise to flow in its own easy natural way. They were furious and frustrated with themselves – so I got them to start ‘walking’ how they felt. We all joined in. We all trudged along with them (supportively). With minimal encouragement they then started shrugging it off (so we did too). We all ended up gambolling like spring lambs, and the self-rage and frustration had gone.

‘The dance you are talking about was absolutely great. It gave me a chance to express the emotion and got it out of my system. It was incredibly helpful. It also gave me the idea of doing this during (my own) walk-and-talk sessions as it is very cathartic.’

So not only was it helpful for them individually (and therefore for all of us too), but she is going to pass it down the line in her own work.

What can we learn from this? Various threads that stand out to me include;

  • be playful – be physically playful, whether you use laughter yoga or not
  • be spontaneous – learn to trust yourself to follow your instincts ‘in the moment’
  • in a ‘first do no harm way’, take risks. In the case above, I had no idea what would happen, I just knew playful movement would help.
  • allow emotion. Don’t be afraid of emotion, just remember to encourage everyone to breathe & relax.

What are your experiences?

Courses to learn laughter yoga

Webinars to develop exercises spontaneously

A 2-minute video compilation

The book ‘Awakening the Laughing Buddha within’:

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The ‘perfect’ laughter yoga exercise: what I learnt as a lumberjack


I learnt many skills in my previous career as a lumberjack.

One that has served me well is listening – not to the hinge cracking, nor the tree falling, but to people.
An important part in my lumberjack career was sales and I learnt that if you listen, or rather when we listen, we hear all the person’s under-currents, assumptions, preferences and particularities.
This type of listening, when we feel the nuances of the communication, is a great skill to master – if we ever can.

Its practical application in laughter yoga is been enormous.

It is a subtle skill to feel the nuances in a group – and helpful when we are looking for perfect pitch, so to speak, pitching the ‘perfect’ exercise, ie the perfect exercise for that moment.

It is a common practice to have a set, pre-planned repertoire, and it is essential to set the correct intention and to do proper preparation and planning. However, it is important to be able to vary our plan.

Sometimes this is forced on us by ‘circumstances’, other times there is a subtle invitation, if we know how to listen. Sometimes someone from the group makes a comment or observation, or behaves or interacts or moves in a particular way that lends itself to becoming a ‘perfect’ exercise. When we turn this moment into a warm, generous and inclusive exercise, it can be perfect.

It can certainly be ‘perfect’.

On one occasion, out of the group emerged a hokey cokey. In the context of the workshop it was about as tangential and off-the-wall as you can imagine – but everyone loved it. One person came up to me afterwards and used the words: ‘it was just perfect!’
The reason it was perfect was because it ‘caught’ the moment, it was spontaneous, inclusive and engaging, it was inviting, playful and fun, everyone found their own enjoyment in it, and everyone found it rewarding. This is my definition of a ‘perfect’ exercise.

In my own personal and professional journey I experienced many similar delights. I found the ‘working with what is’ approach in Kindling Point exceptionally useful as it fosters the ability to allow ideas and material to emerge from within the group.
Our skill in the laughter yoga / laughter therapy / laughter wellness / laughology / laughter facilitation arena is then to turn this into a ‘perfect’ exercise.

When we embrace this, sessions become richer, more rewarding, more effective, more engaging, more life-enhancing.

We can all learn this skill.

How to create ‘perfect’ exercises

Laughter Facilitation Skills

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Living passionately in ‘interesting times’ – how does laughter yoga help?

Do you remember the old Chinese curse: ‘may you live in interesting times’?
These times are with us now, so how can laughter yoga help?

I find three qualities are proving especially helpful – live passionately, take ourselves less seriously, and be more spontaneous & flexible 

  1. Live passionately.
    Laughter yoga uses laughter as a practice. It uses is as a yoga, to reconnect and harmonise.
    It energises.
    We breathe better. We oxygenate our blood. We improve our circulation. The net result is we feel energised. When we feel energised, we start to feel passionate.
    Whether done as alone or with others, it works.

‘Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you’. Oprah. Click To Tweet

Passion sustains us when we encounter difficulties. It is empowering. It builds our resilience and helps us keep going when problems arise, as they always do. A regular and daily laughter practice actively boosts our ability to live passionately.

Keep doing this and you will become energised, you will experience how your passion follows your energy, and consequently you feel in better control of our life – even in ‘interesting’ times.

A basic practice is: breathe in, pause, smile, and in a good-natured way, chuckle as you breathe out – pause, feel.

A basic practice is: breathe in, pause, smile, and in a good-natured way chuckle as you breathe out - pause, feel. Repeat. #laughteryogawithJoe Click To Tweet

  1. Take ourselves less seriously
    While it essential to take what we do seriously, especially nowadays, it is equally important not to take ourselves too seriously. When we take ourselves too seriously, our ‘message’ becomes ‘heavy’ rather than ‘light, and so we undermine it. This is particularly jarring in laughter yoga where the aim is to promote joyfulness, connection and open-heartedness (among other qualities).
    To start taking ourselves less seriously, practice laughing at yourself.
    A basic practice here is to look in a mirror, remind ourselves of all our foibles, point at ourselves, and have a good-natured chuckle. Learning to laugh at ourselves is liberating for others as well as ourselves.

  1. Let go & be more flexible.
    When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” John Maynard Keynes.

Changing our mind can be a tricky skill to master, yet it is essential if we want to be resilient, deal with stress well, and adapt properly as life changes around us. One easy way is regularly to ask ourselves ‘What if?’
It is a useful exercise to imagine circumstances being different, reversed, in a different order – just to see what insights occur to us, and therefore how we might do things differently.

‘Learning is not compulsory. Neither is survival’ W. Edwards Deming Click To Tweet

When we feel energised and passionate, it is easier to start imagining the previously unimaginable without feeling too threatened. When we approach this reviewing process as a game and engage with it playfully, it becomes easier to be open-minded and consider new ideas and possibilities.

A quick and easy way to become more playful is to move around playfully. We become energised when we spend a few moments being physically active, and combining this with playfulness moves us quickly into an open-minded and creative space. If you’re not sure how to, think of Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks?

The value of this flexibility, in combination with passion and playfulness, is it helps us adapt more easily as life changes, which is why laughter yoga is an effective tool for contemporary living – just keep practicing.

Useful links

Smiling is good for the heart

Laughter and mood change








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3 profound benefits of laughter yoga


I love describing things in the simplest way possible, and the benefits of laughter yoga can be described in 3 ways:

  1. You feel better
  2. You are better
  3. You do better.

You feel better. ‘I feel better’ is the most common reply I get when I ask people how they feel when they laugh.
‘Feeling better’ is at the heart of our human experience. It is perhaps the most important quality we can experience because when we feel ‘better’, life is ‘better’.

Feeling better, in a life-affirming and constructive way, can be achieved even in difficult circumstances. There are many stories of people who managed to laugh and feel better even in life-threatening ones.

‘Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit’ (Bernard Williams). Laughter yoga practices activate resilience by giving us the means to improve our mood and activate our zest for life at any moment we choose.

Life feels better with laughter yoga #laughteryogawithJoe Click To Tweet



‘Vedant has really taken what you said on board and now everyone at our hospice is doing their 15 second smiles morning and evening.
The patients respond really well to such a simple device – it is lovely to see the effect it has.’

You are better. The list of health benefits gets longer every day. These benefits are physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual.

In their simplest form, the benefits occur because laughter yoga is a pain-relieving and energising practice. Its wholesome, life-affirming qualities energise us if only because we have more oxygen in our system, and well oxygenated blood is a life-enhancer. The overall cardiovascular benefits underpin our ability to be healthy on many other levels.

‘Laughter is internal jogging’ (Norman Cousins)

Our tolerance threshold for physical pain increases as a result of laughter yoga and laughter generally. This benefit spills over to emotional and psychological pain. We benefit because we communicate and connect better with others, and when we replace isolation & loneliness with connection we experience a healthier, happier and longer life.
‘The smiling practice technique you teach has transformed my life and I rarely walk around with a growly face these days.’

We can all learn to laugh more, and we become measurably better.

You do better. Laughter yoga is a mindfulness activity, and consequently we experience the benefits of mindfulness even though we’ve accessed it in a different way. Among the many benefits of mindfulness, and hence laughter yoga, are the ability to prioritise better, think more clearly & calmly, experience less exhaustion and greater job satisfaction.

An additional benefit laughter yoga brings to our activities is energy.
‘Thank you for your contribution to our team meeting. Our goal to encompass stress relief, team building and fun was certainly achieved.’

Because of its core cardiovascular benefits, coupled with the mood enhancement, we have more energy to bring to our activities. This energising aspect inspires and enables us to do better.
‘By the end of the week I did feel slightly happier and found that any task I was going to do post exercise became easier. I was able to write up lecture notes quicker and found it helped clear my mind and thus, improved my cognitive ability.’

Whether practiced alone or with a group, these are some of the benefits of laughter yoga.

If you have enjoyed this blog, please share it. Thank you.

Further resources include:
Laughter Yoga with Joe

Laughter and pain

Action for Happiness

Choosing happiness

Benefits of laughter

Bristol laughter club 

Laughter Yoga


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Laughter yoga – a force for mindfulness and peace.


There is a huna saying: there are no limits. This is certainly true for laughter yoga.


When you get into the heart of laughter yoga, two qualities you find are mindfulness and peace. By practicing laughter as a yoga, by taking your awareness inside and feeling the inner changes brought about by your laughter practice, you become present and peaceful.

There are many other qualities you might experience too,  for example

– energised,
– healthy,
– empowered.
You might have to navigate your way through some inner turbulence, but after the outward expression of your laughter yoga, there is the potential to feel still, aware, and peaceful.

Because laughter is a universal language, laughter yoga is potentially universal.
It is also cross-cultural, and accessible to every culture and group.

One recent example is from a Women’s Group from a recovery organisation. In their 20 years they had never allowed a man into their group room.
They were stressed, dealing with a lot of pressure, and wanted additional skills to help them cope better, build resilience and find a sense of inner calm.
After they approached me thinking I was a woman (Jo not Joe), their organiser asked them if they were happy having a male presence in their group, and they replied ‘yes’.
Besides feeling honoured I also felt extremely alert to any nuances, and so the session was geared to ensure they ‘owned’ it and felt good about themselves. It started very gently as they eased themselves into playful light-heartedness, and then they really took to it.

It worked, they loved it, and they want more.

Another example is with a Pakistani Women’s Group. The same principles of gentleness, flexibility and respect applied. It was important to find the edges of their willingness so they could stay engaged and take part fully. Once we did this, everybody relaxed into it, encouraged each other, and felt great by the end of a short session.

On the face of it, both these sessions were difficult if not impossible but by finding a way of making the laughter yoga exercises relevant and appropriate to each specific group, they were able fully to take it on board.
One group became quite rampant, the other became more quietly jolly, but both of them felt energised, ‘alive’, calm and peaceful by the end.

How do we do this? The keys to this are
— gentleness,
— flexibility and
— respect.

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I call this approach nls: natural laughter skills because it is based on
— moving
— breathing
— smiling
It builds gentleness, flexibility and respect into the heart of laughter yoga, and helps it realise its potential for mindfulness and peace.
Whether you are an organisation, team, group or an individual, there are no limits.

if you have enjoyed this blog, please ‘like’ share it? Thank you, I greatly appreciate this.
Further resources include:

nls: natural laughter skills


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‘Help! I’m feeling overwhelmed’ – insights from Laughter yoga


Laughter yoga is not some quirky insubstantial time-filling activity. Laughter yoga helps real people with real life. The insights in nls: natural laughter skills provide a robust practical framework for navigating us through a crisis.

Winston Churchill commented ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going’.
To help do this, here are 7 core nls: natural laughter skills steps.

  1. just hang in there
  2. keep breathing
  3. set tiny wellness targets (‘for the next 5 minutes I’ll relax, breathe & smile’)
  4. within yourself, allow the possibility of change (‘resistance is futile’ … and it has the potential to turn pain into suffering?)
  5. Make a point for 5 minutes at a time, once or thrice a day, appreciating really ‘tiny’ normally insignificant things – fingernails, the fact that bones mend, the texture of your skin, the colour of your walls etc)
  6. Remember that with all you know and all you already do, clarity is on its way. You just have a bit of turbulence to get through
  7. The universe never puts more on our plate than we can handle

This framework is even more effective when these steps are done with a smile. The act of intentional willing smiling relaxes our psyche and opens us to the possibility of change. With practice, the act of intentional willing smiling generates a palpable internal sensation, a warmth, softening and gentleness we can feel. This quality

  • makes it easier to endure the painful moment
  • reduces inner resistance
  • and facilitates inner change.

All that you need do with this intentional willing smiling practice is keep practicing, as in ‘Awakening the Laughing Buddha within’.
As John F Kennedy remarked ‘The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining’, and the more we integrate this smiling practice into our daily life, the better we are able to deal with life’s inevitable turbulence. We are developing our resilience, and using as many of our own resources as possible – physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual.

Do these steps really help?
Here is a recent comment ‘I feel anyone going through change and feeling overwhelmed will benefit from the wisdom of these words. I read them every day and they ground and encourage me, as well as reassuring me that I am doing enough.’

Just keep practicing your intentional willing smiling.


next workshop ‘Joy. More Joy

next webinar – ‘add mindfulness to your laughter yoga’

next course ‘Laughter Facilitation Skills’


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Laughter yoga tips for effortless laughter

Effortless laughter.

It’s a vibe thing.
When you yourself feel it, you transmit it, effortlessly.
The knack is to feel it, genuinely & authentically, in your core.

‘It’, of course, is good-natured warmth. ‘It’ is also joyfulness.

It is also acceptance, the acceptance of our inner dark and light, of our sorrows as well as our joys. It is the ability to cry as well as laugh.

‘It’ takes practice. The practice is endless, but it gets better. Life becomes more joyful.
Is this a good reason to practice?

Laughter yoga is wonderful for this. There is a great practice, of laughing at oneself. The practice of being able to laugh through, at & with our ‘story’ is very profound. It is liberating because it puts us increasingly at ease with life and all it brings – the downs as well as the ups.
You practice laughing no matter what you’re feeling.
It is the equivalent of keeping breathing, no matter what you’re feeling. Just keep breathing.
After all, isn’t a laugh just a type of out-breath?

When we have learnt to laugh like this, people sense it. It allows them to laugh more easily, effortlessly even. This inner freedom, the freedom referred to by Marianne Williamson in her memorable Our deepest fear‘ quote, gives others permission to feel more expansively too. When this is done in a space that allows and encourages good-natured  connection, whether in a laughter yoga/wellness session or in fact any other session, effortless natural spontaneous laughter often occurs.
It usually occurs.
In fact, it almost invariably occurs.

If you run any kind of ‘laughter’ sessions, this is a very good skill to learn.

As a personal practice, it is extremely liberating.
It is another one of these ‘simple but not easy’ practices, and like all such practices, it is potentially life-changing in a good way.

The underlying reason for this effortless laughter involves being present and experiencing the joy that simply being alive can offer. When we are able to relax into the ‘now’, it is usually a joyful experience, and in this state, good-natured laughter easily and naturally bubbles up.
This applies as much as a personal practice as a group skill.

Are these good reasons to learn it?


Useful links include:

group laughter skills (webinar)

group laughter skills (course)

personal practice (book)

general information

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Happiness tips, vol 2, part 1. Want to feel the joy? Learn to feel.


It’s all about feeling.

Laughter yoga helps us feel. Laughter yoga helps us feel happier, even when it hurts.

Sometimes, though, there is an expectation that laughter yoga will make us feel happier instantly. After all, the eminent psychologist William James observed ‘We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we’re happy because we laugh.’

Time and again, I have found his observation to be true – with a caution. Sometimes we have uncomfortable feelings we have not acknowledged. Sometimes they need freedom and to be released. This cannot happen without being prepared to feel the uncomfortableness.
Sometimes this hurts.

How does laughter yoga help?

‘Remember to breathe’ is advice we’ve probably all heard numerous times.
In laughter yoga, it becomes ‘remember to laugh’.

Because laughter practices are life-enhancing and energise our zest for life , they generate a cushion to help us through our uncomfortable feelings. They can help us ride any pain associated with our uncomfortable feelings.
After all, a laugh is simply a form of breath.

Like many practices, these are simple but not easy. The knack is to keep going. That’s where the benefits are.

There is a difference between experiencing this in a group or as a personal practice.
When running groups and workshops, we have to be alert and allow people space to experience their own feelings. This involves well-developed group and facilitation skills.

As a personal practice, we have to be alert to any additional resources we need. Whatever additional resources we need, the laughter yoga personal practices help.

So laughter yoga can help provide us with the resources we need to deal with the feelings it reveals.

Simple, but not easy.

Start practicing now?
Breathe in, hold your breath for 3 seconds, smile, and exhale with a good-natured chuckle.
Repeat at least 3 times.

Keep at it.

Useful links include:

Practices (book/audio)

zest for life

laughter yoga with Joe

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What does laughter yoga add to mindfulness?


The short answer is lots.

Time and again, the feedback from participants after experiencing a session is they’ve never felt so present, so quickly.
It is extremely common for physical symptoms like headaches to disappear, for stress levels to drop, for energy levels to rise, for awareness to expand and consequently for people to experience an unexpected calm and serenity, all within fifteen or twenty minutes.

Whether the session is titled ‘Mindfulness’, ‘Gentle Laughing Mindfulness’ or simply ‘laughter yoga with Joe’, the core activities are the same. There are specific facial exercises combined with embodiment, breathing, moving, feeling, connecting. The delivery is light-hearted, flexible and spontaneous with ‘space to learn’ so participants can be aware of their own processes. This is an important aspect.
The cumulative effect is to activate people’s zest for life.

Why does this work?
The immediate answer is because it gets participants out of their heads.
Very quickly indeed it breaks them free of their endless thinking cycle. It moves their awareness into their fuller consciousness – their body, their breathing and their overall connection with self and others. When this is done as a repeating, deepening pattern, it becomes an endlessly beneficial practice.

A subtler answer is it works because of the difference between being aware and being aware with a smile. This is like the difference between a passive, observational meditation and a proactive, dynamic one. Both ‘work’, and both have their place.

The smile gives the experience a particular dynamic.

How long do the benefits last?
As with mindfulness itself, the more it is practiced, the better it ‘works’. Again, it is simple but not easy. The strong incentive is that even experienced practitioners feel so good so quickly.

What’s the best way to start?
Smile. Feel the smile. Be aware of the internal quality of the smile. Smile with your whole being, and be alert for any differences in how you feel and how others behave and react.

It might be the most enjoyable practice you ever do.

Do it now?

zest for life

laughter yoga with Joe

Smiling & embodiment practices

latest news

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Finding your place in the laughter yoga world


You’ve got the enthusiasm. You’ve done the training. What next?

Sometimes what follows is a scenario where you run one or three sessions and then you don’t quite know how to develop these further. Sometimes people come to a session, love it, and in spite of raving about it, they never return.
Sometimes they might not quite ‘get’ what it’s about. Sometimes they might think it’s ‘just’ a bit of fun but not really important, not comparable with ‘serious’ practices like….well, yoga?

This can be discouraging.

In my 14 years in the laughter yoga world, this is a scenario I’ve encountered many times. I also wrestled with it myself in the Bristol laughter workshops ( where on one occasion in the 13 years it’s been running, only 1 person turned up. After the initial scariness (on my part, I should add), we proceeded to have a very valuable hour and a half.
It was excellent coaching practice.

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Nowadays these sessions average over 20 participants, with lots of them coming back. The sessions always attract further interest and professional inquiries, from charity to blue chip. This is partly because there is a greater general awareness of and appreciation for all wellness and yoga practices, but also because I’ve developed my own style and built my own niche to maximise the value people get.
They ‘get’ the value.

I’ve also been in lots of other people’s sessions and have experienced successful styles that are completely different to my own. I’ve observed and felt that style itself simply doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s YOUR style. As you develop your own style, you will find your niche.


In my experience, more often than not, this niche combines with other modalities & practices which is why you need to have the courage to be flexible, spontaneous and adaptable.

The laughter yoga world is expanding fast now because the whole wellness world is expanding fast. World-wide there is greater interest in being healthy & happy, and personal development practices are something that more and more people are prepared to devote time, energy and resources to.

It has become clear to me that we all have a niche. It is sometimes/often/usually not what we expect, but we all have one. Finding your niche and building your presence & impact, and hence rewards, is the subject of this webinar.

Time, science and general interest are all on our side. There are excellent resources on Facebook, twitter and Linkedin. I post articles regularly in the ‘about’ section on my own website.

We are moving with the tide of history. At the very least, do keep practicing?

Exclusive webinar, limited places: build your niche, presence, impact and rewards, 13th March, 6pm UK time

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