Laughter Yoga in Prisons & Detention Centres

Laughter Yoga with Dr. Madan Kataria in a US Prison
Alberquerque, New Mexico


Prisoners harbor a lot of anger and depression inside of them which needs to be removed, in order to prevent them from committing further acts of crimes, whether it be inside or once released from jail. Laughter Yoga has been proven it works in India by Dr. Madan Kataria. It helps in resolving long standing negative emotions in criminals and places them in a much more positive frame of mind.
Sharing laughter in the prisons and detention centres has been a dream of mine since I started leading Laughter yoga classes around Ontario.
The day is not far off when this idea will be implemented worldwide for not just prisoners but also the jail staff, warden and others who constantly live under pressure and stress.

john cleese

“Some years ago, famous English actor John Cleese came to Mumbai, to make a BBC documentary titled ‘‘Human Face’’ and Laughter Clubs of India were a part of that series. During his visit, he went to many Laughter Clubs, factories and finally to Arthur Road prison, for a Laughter session. Laughter among prisoners was a humbling experience. After obtaining permission from the police authorities, a Laughter session was held among the undertrials.
Seventy to eighty sad, angry and depressed looking prisoners opted to join the laughter session. Some of them had mask-like faces. After initial hesitation, they opened up and laughed uproariously, as if all their anger had transformed into laughter. At the end of the session, everybody seemed happy, and asked when they would laugh like this again”.

Read about the extraordinary work Luis Gomez is doing with Laughter Yoga in Prisons in Mexico City, Mexico.

It is very true that you can not achieve as an individual what you can achieve by working together.

For the past four years I have brought laughter and joy dynamics to the prison system in Mexico City. The first two years, I performed this activity as a volunteer. From the second year, the prison system would support me with transportation and promotion of the activities. Since 2011, I have been hired as human development instructor.

During these four years of work, I have had the opportunity to visit over 10 centers impacting more than 2,000 inmates. I have several programs of activities, all of them aim to relieve stress, to quiet the mind and to visualize. One of the activities that I have implemented in this program is Laughter Yoga.

The interventions of Laughter Yoga in the prison system are designed for participants to not only experience the benefits of this technique but also to learn it and then have the opportunity to become facilitators to manage groups within prison. Rodrigo is one of the facilitators who learned this technique in prison. He taught two courses to his fellow inmates. After been released, he has been working with for 11 months.

I recently had the opportunity to train Laughter Yoga to more than 30 people working in the prison system of Mexico City among them are psychologists, social workers and criminologists. Most of these people have been working for the prison system for a few years now working mainly with inmates.

The goal of this training was to provide participants with another tool, so they can spread the joy with the groups they work in the prison system. In some cases, I help them out with their classes, specially if the number of participants are big.

Luis Gomez
This training has already started to see the first fruits. Some of them are:

One of the psychologists who works in addiction rehabilitation clinic began five weeks ago. The activity starts sharp at 7:30 am on Tuesday with the participation of more than 110 inmates, of which some have already started leading some of the exercises in the sessions.

Another psychologist who works in the same clinic and is responsible for the post-treatment program, has 4 groups already, one of which is more than 120 people and activity takes place in the auditorium of the center.

In the next few weeks we will open more courses in other centers.

I am very content with the way this project is flowing. I perceive the commitment of the facilitators who perform their work motivated by a genuine interest in helping people to unleash their inner joy.

prison man smiling


“The person who can bring the spirit of laughter into a room is indeed blessed.
~~Bennett Cerf, American publisher