Breathe in first…and then, laugh it out.

I was chatting via Skype with a doctor from a UK University this week about the Laughter Quotient. While he was interested in this new and ground breaking concept, he was concerned that I had given away the Laughter Yoga side of things. When I enquired why that could be a concern for him, he stated quite clearly that the breathing, in his opinion, was equally as important as the laughing.

His statement was half right because the process of laughter is, in fact, a part of the breathing process. It’s the exhalation side of things. What he actually meant to say was that he was specifically referring to the part where we breathe in.

Many Laughter Leaders set up a laughter exercise without actually getting the folks to breathe in beforehand. In fact, it is trained in the Laughter Yoga process to make exhalation noises such as “air, air, air” just before laughing. This means that part of the exhalation process has been used on an expression that does little to elongate the laughter, and therefore more of the health benefits that it provides.

While this pre-laughter expression puts a “sort of smile” on your face, it doesn’t necessarily go as far as it could, as it can be verbalized without a smile. So why not, just before any laughter exercise, genuinely smile as you breathe in, and then laugh it out for as long and as loud as you can?

So here are some tips as to how we could breathe in to enhance the exhalation process to prepare us to then more effectively laugh it out, as this is what the Laughter Quotient focuses on at a therapeutic level.

  1. Smile. The Duchenne smile is where we smile with our eyes. This can be easily achieved with our “smile string”. Imagine that you are holding a piece of string stretched between your hands. Now bite on it. Once you have, then pull it up over your ears as you drop the jaw. Look into a mirror to see how well this works.
  2. Raise your tongue. Look into a mirror once again, and with your mouth open, raise your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Do it in such a way that when you breathe in the air only comes in through your nose. Look at the impact that this has on your eyes in relation to point 1.
  3. Breathe into the gut. Remember that when you breathe in, your gut should expand first. This is because your diaphragm is dropping in behind it. Practice doing this as slowly, and deeply, as possible.
  4. Then the lungs. Once you have expanded the gut as far as it can go, then breathe into your lungs. Emphasis should be on expanding the rib cage and not on lifting the shoulders.
  5. Then the throat. Once this is achieved you can now relax your tongue and breathe into your throat. This completes the three-stage inhalation process and you are now ready to laugh.

If you have any further questions regarding the Laughter Quotient then please feel free to email me at at any time.

Merv Neal is a Laughter Yoga Master Trainer, CEO of Laughter Yoga Australia and New Zealand, and Director of Holistic Services Group. He has successfully owned and operated his own businesses for more than 43 years. He has created a Laughter Yoga Business Training Program, as well as the Business Mentors and Coaches Program, to help others to take laughter to commercial organizations, and/or to create a laughter business of their own. More information can be found at or He can be contacted on 0408552269 or