DIANE COHEN (Laughter Yoga Instructor): Laughter yoga is a unique concept where you laugh for no reason. There are no jokes, there's no comedy, there's no humor. It's just intentional laughter and it looks like a group of people getting together laughing having fun.

The four elements are clapping, childlike playfulness, pranayama breathing, which is the yoga part, and the laughter exercises. It's the laughter part and the breathing part, the pranayama breathing that we do in yoga, and there aren't the poses at all, and the benefits are from the breathing. It takes you so much out of your head and your mind and more into your heart and body, and the spirituality comes in because we're connecting with each other, and we're connecting in a nonreligious way, however it’s a joyful way.

It's contagious, and I think when they're in a group and they feel safe and they see me making a total fool out of myself they might think that if she can do it I can do it, too. Your body actually doesn't know the difference between intentional laughter and real laughter. You just feel good. It's just the inner essence of a person, and I think laughter yoga brings out that inner essence that we don't always let out. Some people get joy, some people get the connection. Some people do it for release.

With mindfulness practice we learn to pause, take a breath, and there are a lot of people, and some of my clients included, who have difficulty getting into the meditative state. However, with laughter yoga you can arrive at that point without sitting still. Some people need to be active.

Laughter Yoga

A growing new spiritual practice combines the breathing techniques of yoga with laughter. Practitioners say it helps them achieve joy and spiritual well-being. At a laughter yoga session at Washington National Cathedral, we talk with instructor Diane Cohen, who says laughter yoga releases “that inner essence that we don’t always let out.”