Are you looking for a way to create genuine joy in your life while improving your physical and mental health? Laughter yoga is perfect for you. It sounds simple, but laughter can bring about a whole host of positive changes in your life. Read on to learn more.
What is Laughter Yoga?
Laughter yoga was developed by Dr Madan Kataria in 1995. It combines laughter with yogic breathing (Pranayama). The laughter it simulated at first but it turns into real laughter. Laughter yoga is based on the fact that the body cannot tell the difference between real and fake laughter – both provide the same physical and psychological benefits. Research has shown that 10 to 20 minutes of laughter, real or fake, has an important effect on a person.
Laughter yoga works using unconditional laughter. That is, it does not use jokes, humour, or comedy. Laughter is a form of exercise in a group situation, and as the session continues, the laughter becomes real and contagious.
How is Laughter Yoga Practiced?
Laughter yoga is practiced in a group setting, and it relies on the fact that laughter is contagious. When the members of the group interact with each other, the laughter yoga exercises stimulate laughter from all members of the group. The initial laughter is fake but it quickly turns into genuine laughter. Once the members start laughing, even if it is fake, the body quickly converts the fake laughter into real laughter.
Benefits of Laughter Yoga
There are many benefits that can be obtained through laughter yoga, both physical and psychological. Some of these benefits include:
- Reducing stress – laughter yoga reduces physical, emotional, and mental stress. Studies have shown that it can increase positive emotions as well as reduce the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Practicing laughter yoga regularly increases the body’s ability to fight stress related illnesses.
- Improving mood – laughter releases endorphins – the so called happy hormones. These improve your mood. Endorphins are also a natural method for controlling pain.
- Strengthening the immune system – laughter yoga can quickly improve the immune system as it increases the level of anti-viral and anti-infection cells. It also increases levels of immunoglobulin A, which protects against viral infections such as colds and coughs.
- An excellent form of exercise – laughter yoga is actually a form of aerobic exercise. In fact, just one minute of laughter is equivalent to ten minutes of rowing or jogging. It exercises the muscles in the stomach, back, and pelvis, and also internally massages the digestive tract and internal organs.
- Increasing circulation – laughter yoga massages and improves the circulation to the digestive and lymphatic systems. The increased circulation also helps to flush the body of waste products.
- Boosting serotonin levels – laughter increases the production of serotonin, which is a natural antidepressant. This can help with depression, anxiety, and so forth.
- Increasing oxygen – when you laugh, you inhale more oxygen as it flushes the lungs of stale air. The increased supply of oxygen benefits the body and leaves you feeling more energetic.
There are more than just physical benefits to laughter yoga. Some psychological benefits include:
- eliminating negative emotions and thoughts
- making it easier to cope with the everyday challenges of life
- improving our ability to cope with conflict
- creating a positive mindset
- building self confidence
- improving communication skills
Who Can Do Laughter Yoga?
Laughter yoga can be practiced by anyone, regardless of age, physical limitations, or cognitive limitations. It is not political, religious, threatening, or competitive. It is a non judgmental therapy.
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