So, what is this Laughter Yoga?
First of all it is a very unique concept based on the idea that you do not need any stimuli such as jokes or comedy to create laughter.
Back in the 90’s Medical Doctor, Madan Kataria, conducted research on the benefits of laughter and found very interesting evidence to suggest that we can laugh even when we are not in the mood thus we can simulate laughter – and still get very similar physiological and biochemical benefits as if we were in fact laughter for real.
The reason it works is because we initiate laughter as an exercise where movement, connection through eye contact, and a willingness to participate changes your perception and often changes the simulated laughter to real and contagious laughter very quickly.
This brings me to the name Laughter Yoga, which may suggest that there is Yoga involved which in turn may make lots of people instantly give up on the idea. However, the great news is that we do not practice Yoga exercises where you need to bend and twist your body in a variety of poses. Laughter Yoga is a combination of playful laughter exercises and deep breathing exercises which brings in lots of fresh air to make you feel healthy and energetic.
Why even consider the practice of Laughter Yoga?
There are so many reasons it is an absolutely second to none idea! One is that it gives you the opportunity to laugh for longer. Much too often the laughter we share in social settings is shallow and brief, the laughter that doesn’t raise eyebrows.
To get the full physiological benefits you need a lot more laughter, this is not just a few seconds or minutes we are aiming at, it is a full 15-20 minutes AT A TIME.
Not only do we laugh for an extended period of time we also laugh deep and heartily so we make use of the full depth of our lungs, activating the diaphragm which we most often don’t even consider using when breathing because we are way to stressed to breathe properly.
Guffaws and chortles, snorts and cackles are familiar laughter sounds in a laughter session. However, it is not about the loudness of your laughter although that may more easily give you the sensation of the belly laughter. When you practice every day for 15-20 minutes using your diaphragm for the laughter and breathing process you discover and develop your own laughter style and not necessarily a very loud one.
A smile and a giggle can also be felt deep within – it is simply a matter of practice!
All of this for the purpose of getting benefits, feeling good, feeling great, relaxing, feeling motivated and alert, ready to cope with everyday challenges in a resourceful way.
What are the benefits then?
“When you laugh you change and when you change the whole world changes”, said by Dr. Madan Kataria.
And it is true. Your whole view of the world changes and there is nothing you cannot do.
Your mood changes within minutes while your body is being flooded by a cocktail of feelgood chemicals released in different areas of your brain. Levels of endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin increase and in return you feel happy and connected.
Your stress level drop when you are in a good frame of mind and with lower stress chemicals your immune system gets a real kick and helps you in a much better way to fight of the feeling of being unwell.
With the increased oxygen you gulp in while breathing deeply and laughing liberally your brain gets a proper dose of fresh air to help it work at it best and most optimal level.
You start feeling closer to people in your life and relationships blossom and become deeper. It is a great lift for when you feel down in the dumps because relationships are increasingly supportive and your sense of being connected improves.
However, sometimes we deal with our challenges by ourselves. The practice of Laughter Yoga doesn’t mean that you laugh loudly when facing ups and downs but your brain starts rewiring it’s conditioned state and you become more resourceful and resilient to the changes life inadvertently produce.
All in a good laugh!