They say laughter is the best medicine and this is clearly the theory behind Laughter Yoga, coming soon to a gym near you.

What started in 1995 as a small group chuckling in a park in Mumbai and led by ‘giggling guru’ Dr Madan Kataria, has now swept the world – it’s even practised in Iran.

While it might seem like an awkward roomful of people pretending to chortle at each other’s bad jokes, the body can’t differentiate between real and fake laughter so even a phony chuckle still benefits your health and wellbeing.

Laughing for 15 minutes can apparently burn around 40 calories, and increases the amount of oxygen going to the brain, lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system and helps you to laugh in the face of adversity. What’s not to love?

And if these classes are anything to go by, it’s not the only ‘alternative’ yoga around…

Surfboard yoga

Back in January, supermodel Gisele Bundchen posted pics of herself holding yoga poses while standing on a floating surfboard in her bikini – kudos for balancing so well. YogAqua was developed in LA by Sarah Tiefenthaler, who wanted to exercise as close to nature as possible.


Circus acrobat skills meet yoga holds in AcroYoga, which is designed to boost trust, empowerment and joy. Trust because you’re basically being held aloft by a partner, so you really don’t want to annoy them. It was dreamed up by San Franciscans Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Klein.


If you can bring your baby to a yoga class, why not bring your dog? Another US import to these shores – with the help of Swiss-born yoga teacher Mahny Djahanguiri – it enables dog owners to spend quality time with their pooch while exercising. What’s wrong a long walk?

Emoji yoga

In a similar vein to laughter yoga, 20-year-old Londoner Charlotte Bell has come up with a way of acting out our emotions other than just simply smiling or crying – you copy emojis (or emoticons), the little expressive faces used in texting. So, are you ready to limber up in the shape of a screaming cat face?

AntiGravity yoga

Anti-gravity yoga

This involves wrapping yourself up in a silk hammock suspended from the ceiling so you look a bit like a human bat. Designed by Broadway dancer Christopher Harrison, the exercises increase balance and strength (but it’s best not to eat before a class).

Hotpod Yoga

Designed to make you sweat, these Vinyasa Yoga classes take place in a special ‘soothing, cocoon-like pod’ (read ‘womb’) heated to 37C. Possibly not one for summer…