Try it with me: hahahahahahahahahahaha
Felt good right?
There’s a new exercise craze sweeping the nation, and it’s got people cracking up.
It’s called Laughter Yoga.
It started in Mumbai, India in 1995 with the five members of Dr. Madan Kataria’s “Laughter Club.” Throughout his career, he had become interested in the growing body of research indicating that laughter has significant mental and physical benefits. He was interested in exploring how laughter could be used in a medical setting to treat patients.
That small group of five attracted the attention in the park where the club met, and soon enough the club had over 50 members. Their laughter was initially powered by jokes, but the group soon ran out.
That night, scouring over his notes, Dr. Kataria had a breakthrough: our bodies cannot differentiate between genuine and forced laughter. The next day, pretend giggles gave way to genuine belly laughs, and the group laughed like never before. Thus was the birth of Laughter Yoga.
The benefits of laughter are scientifically proven. Clinical research has found that laughter lowers the amount of stress hormones in the blood, such as cortisol and epinephrine. Laughter also contributes to a significant decrease in blood pressure.
Besides that, laughter acts as a mood enhancer by releasing endorphins from the brain. It’s also an aerobic exercise, so doing so oxygenates the brain and makes a person feel more energetic and relaxed. Over time, laughter reduces stress, which strengthens the immune system.
In general, laughter helps to create a positive mental state to deal with negative situations and negative people. It gives hope and optimism to people dealing with hardship and loss.
Today, Laughter Yoga classes are offered in 72 countries across the world. It combines gentle breathing used during traditional yoga, stretching, and stimulated unconditional laughter. Laughter Yoga Clubs are a worldwide network of social clubs run by volunteers under the guidance of Laughter Yoga International based in Bangalore, India. They are free for all, any place in the world. If there are no preexisting Laughter Clubs in your area, you can create one and register it here. There are also training DVDs available online.
For now, you can try it out yourself by following along with the video below, or read through this nine-step guide for a written explanation.
If you’re still not convinced, here’s a few convincing testimonials from people who take part in Laughter Yoga classes:
Now, normally I’m one to shy away from yoga, seeing that I can’t even come close to touching my toes. But Laughter Yoga is foolproof! I know firsthand how good it feels to laugh to the point where you’re blue in the face. I’m shocked to learn that this same feeling can be achieved through forced laughter. When I’m really stressed, there’s very little that will make me laugh genuinely. I feel hopeless, even worthless. But as Sebastien Gendry, CEO of the American School of Laughter, puts it, “how we feel is a choice.” Knowing that I have the capacity to change how I truly feel by just pretending is empowering.
The implications of Laughter Yoga reach far beyond these clubs. If we make an effort to laugh a little more everyday, maybe just by not taking life so seriously, we will blossom into a much happier, healthier world.
Who ever would have guessed that such a silly activity could have such serious benefits?