Laughter yoga is misunderstood many times as people think you have to do yoga poses like downward dog, etc. Not true, but there is a yoga connection. Yoga breathingor Pranayama, is the foundation of a laughter yoga practice. Laughter yoga is a unique exercise routine, which combines unconditional laughter with yogic breathing. Laughter yoga sessions start with gentle warm-up techniques which include stretching, chanting, clapping and body movement. This helps break down inhibitions and develop feelings of childlike playfulness. Forced laughter soon turns into real and contagious laughter.
Science has proven that the body cannot differentiate between simulated or forced and real laughter. The physical benefits are exactly the same, and simulated laughter usually leads to real laughter. It has been proven scientifically that twenty minutes of laughter is sufficient to have physiological benefits. This experience leads to release of emotional tensions and joyfulness, which can last for days. Laughter yoga is the only technique that allows adults to achieve sustained hearty laughter without involving cognitive thought.
Some benefits of laughter yoga
makes you feel good
helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook
supports you to relax and recharge
gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope
you can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing
shifts your perspective
brings the focus away from negative emotions
gives us a more lighthearted perspective and help us view events as challenges
connects us with others
produces a sense of well being
has a profound effect on all aspects of your mental and emotional health
provides a physical and emotional release
reduces the level of stress hormones
increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies
boosts T cells and the number of antibody-producing cells
improves your resistance to disease
triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals
generates the release of oxytocin, aka the love hormone
enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air
stimulates your heart and lungs
provides a good workout for the heart
exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs, and even works out the shoulders
works your muscles and leaves muscles more relaxed afterward
provides a natural workout for many muscle groups
decreases blood pressure
improves sleep patterns
increases blood flow and oxygenation to the cells and organs
been shown to increase memory, intelligence, and creativity.
Breathing exercises are used to prepare the lungs for laughter, followed by a series of ‘laughter exercises’ that combine the method of acting and visualization techniques with playfulness. These exercises, when combined with strong social dynamics of group behaviour, lead to hearty unconditional laughter.
An old Yiddish proverb says,
“What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.”
Sunday May 6 is World Laughter Day. It takes place the first Sunday in May every year. Dr. Madan Kataria is the founder of the worldwide laughter yoga movement. Laughter yoga has all the ingredients required for individuals to change themselves and to change the world in a peaceful and positive way.
Contact me if you want to try a class or have an organization who wants to add a little humour into the mix.