Laughter Yoga makes one feel better, anytime and anywhere one chooses to try it.
If told there is an easy, way to improve mood, reduce blood pressure, boost the immune system, and dramatically enhance wellbeing, without money, special equipment, nor drugs, most people would laugh. And if they laughed long enough—or even just pretended to laugh, they would realize the benefits described above. And that is the secret of laughter yoga, wherein the positive power of laughing is harnessed purposely, diligently and even joyously.
On the Mayo Clinic’s website healthy lifestyle section, the short term effects of laughter are listed ; activating hearts and lungs, stress reduction, and lowering blood pressure. Longer term, it states laughter also reduces pain and enhances well being. “Consider trying laughter yoga,” the Clinic’s website advises. “In laughter yoga, people practice laughter as a group. Laughter is forced at first, but it can soon turn into spontaneous laughter.”
Combining child-like exercises with eye contact, adults begin laughing, faking it at first, but soon begin feeling benefits from the happy juice balm of serotonin endorphins and dopamine released even during fake laughter. Soon, one is laughing for real.
The most famous proponent is Dr. Madan Kataria, the cardiologist from India who invented laughter yoga in 1995, when he was seeking ways to help his heart patients exercise safely.
Dr. Lee Berk of Loma Linda University studies show that “repetitive mirthful laughter,” (Laughercise) causes the body to respond in a way similar to moderate physical exercise. As mentioned earlier, Berk finds laughter enhances one’s mood, decreases stress hormones, enhances immune activity, lowers bad cholesterol and systolic blood pressure, and raises good cholesterol (HDL).
The techniques of laughter yoga effectively evoke “repetitive mirthful laughter.” It’s a simple combination of brain chemistry and group dynamics.
Laughter yoga does more than help the body. It cleanses the mind as well. One cannot laugh and think simultaneously, so laughter yoga helps quiet and soothe the mind. Laughter yoga promotes better and deeper breathing, increasing oxygen and blood flow, so laughter yoga connects one closer to prana, breathe of life. Deeper breathing may indeed lead to deeper living.