Laughter yoga daily practice: why doesn’t it always work?


A core laughter practice is intentional, self-initiated laughter. In laughter yoga this is called ‘laughing for no reason’.

Peering behind the language, it is laughing for the sake of laughing. It is a proactive, intentional yogic activity, to access the many benefits that laughter delivers.
This can be a group practice as well as an individual one. The resuts can be profound and life-changing.

Sometimes, though, they change almost nothing, even after years of practice. Why might this be?

(Spoiler alert: it is called ‘Benefit Finding’)

Many of us in the ‘laughter’ community will have had experiences of people’s lives being improved through laughter practices. Sometimes there is an almost immediate result as relief and joy break free. Sometimes it is like the bursting of a dam of seriousness and stress, and when people access this inner quality, they change permanently and instantly.

Sometimes, though, in site of years of practice, this does not happen. Again, many of us probably know people who are able to laugh and laugh without any benefit beyond the immediate physical health boost.

In one particular instance, a long-time practitioner asked me why they could laugh happily for a long time in a laughter session, and yet 30 minutes later be habitually gloomy.

Why indeed?

One short answer is that this is a good reminder that no practice is a magic bullet. Nothing always works every time for everyone.

A further answer is perhaps that psychologically we need to be ready for change. When we are, even if consciously we don’t know we are, even a small intervention can produce big changes.When we are not, nothing will produce changes.

‘Benefit Finding’ is as it says, looking to find the benefits from situations, including or maybe especially, ‘uncomfortable’ ones. Although the array of world-wide laughter practices gives us excellent tools to improve our life, until we are ready to move into a more expansive life, the benefits from these practices will be limited.
‘Moving into a more expansive life’ might involve dealing with uncomfortable feelings. Often we shy away from uncomfortable feelings, and in this case, not even laughter practices will make a difference. We might need additional resources.

So although psychology, science, medicine and spirituality all underpin the potential benefits from laughter practices, until we are prepared for ‘Benefit Finding’, their impact will be as much or as little as we allow – and this might be very little.

As practitioners, the reminder is that our role is to deliver competent, appropriate interventions. Their impact ultimately lies with the recipient. We need to be ready to make other suggestions, or maybe just offer support.

The one thing we cannot guarantee is that laughter practices will ‘work’.

Al we can do is our best, always.Ā 

‘Awakening the Laughing Buddha within’



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2 thoughts on “Laughter yoga daily practice: why doesn’t it always work?

  1. Bob "Hubba Jubba" Moss

    I can understand the viewpoints mentioned above, however I have the following thoughts: 1) Encourage laffter wannabee to “fake it to make it!” The more one fakes healthy and hearty laffter, they will soon become comfortable doing so; 2) The use of “bioreflective feedback” (mirror drills), enables one to see what their enthusiastic laffs look like, thereby providing them with more confidence to risk first time performances of hearty and healthy laffs; 3) The technique of “audiotonal rhythms” provide hearty laffter learners to practice their new laffs with sounds of enthusiastic group laffter playing in the background. Also the availability of an avid laff mentor, exercising their own innovative brand of healthy joy, creates a more cozy environment for the mentees; and 4) The presence of any number of hand made laffter mementos can be used as “remember 2-B positive” items to encourage individual pretend practice episodes. Examples of mementos include: Happy faces drawn on paper plates, laff flash cards and personalized stickers, collages and posters featuring positive slogans and “selfies” of ones self and others.

    1. Joe Hoare Post author

      Excellent points all, thank you. Lovely to use resources on multi-levels like this. These can definitely help people (us?!) make the breakthrough.
      Thanks Bob.


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