Laughter yoga: What is it and how does it work?

There are many different forms of yoga in today’s day and age. Although different forms of yoga vary, they are all aiming to achieve the same goal, peace of mind and lightness of spirit. A form of yoga that has been gaining popularity in recent years is laughter yoga. Laughter yoga is a type of yoga that is based on the scientific research that your body cannot tell the difference between a real or fake laugh and laughing helps lower stress hormones in the blood. 

Have you ever had a good belly laugh with some friends and caught your breath only to find yourself feeling a sense of lightness, ease and relaxation? That is the aim of laughter yoga. It is an intentional practice that initiates laughter and combines breathing and laughter exercises in a group setting to promote positive mood enhancement and improved well-being. 

 

Background 

Laughter yoga was developed by a medical doctor from India, Dr. Madan Kataria in the 1960’s. Madan Kataria wrote about his experience in his 2002 book Laugh For No Reason. Laughter yoga and laughter clubs have reached around 100 different countries. The idea is simple, and people can experience the benefits in their first class. Laughter is initiated through a variety of exercises in the group combined with eye contact and childlike playfulness. After a matter of time, the initiated laughter becomes real contagious laughter amongst the group. There are more than 20,000 free social Laughter clubs in 110 countries where you can take part in these classes. Aside from general well-being promotion, Laughter Yoga is also being practiced in Senior centers, age care facilities, schools, corporations, factories, and prisons.

 

Benefits

Similar to other forms of yoga, there are a wide range of benefits from practicing laughter yoga and people from all walks of life can experience these benefits easily and in little time. 

Enhanced mood:

Laughter Yoga helps to lift your mood in a short amount of time by releasing feel good chemicals or endorphins in  your brain. This enhanced mood will carry you through your day and create a sense of lightness and peace the more you practice. 

Reduces stress:

Laughter Yoga brings more oxygen to the body and brain which allows for feelings of relaxation and increased energy. It is a wonderful remedy for excess stress and when you feel like you have too much going on. 

Immune boosting:

Like many other forms of yoga and breathwork, laughter yoga strengthens the immune system. Stress and anxiety can cause the immune system to falter, and practices like laughter yoga that oxygenate the body and reduce stress can help boost the immune system and assist our bodies in fighting off illness.

Connection and community:

Laughter yoga is done in a communal setting with a group of people. The act of sharing laughter with others is a way to connect deeply with those around you, as well as promoting positive energy for you to attract other like-minded people into your life and inner circle. Laughter yoga helps promote a better sense of connection with others and creates a built in community in which you can share joy and laughter with. 

Positive mindset:

Laughter yoga helps us get in the habit of cultivating laughter and joy, even when it doesn’t feel easy. Laughter often comes easily when life is good, but when we are facing challenges, it tends to feel a bit more difficult. Laughter yoga can help us cultivate positivity and an enhanced mental state when coping with difficult situations or life circumstances. It helps us find the joy and beauty in life no matter what. 

Join the online laughter club or find out where you can practice laughter yoga near you at laughteryoga.org.

 

Gabrielle Marchese is a certified yoga instructor.

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