What is Laughter Yoga and why would you do it?
In 1995 Dr Madan Kataria started his first Laughter Yoga Clubs in Mumbai with just a handful of people. There are now Laughter Clubs in over 72 countries and in some parts of India it even forms part of the schools’ curriculum. Dr Kataria discovered that by making laughter available to anyone without needing to depend on humour, jokes and comedy had some remarkable effects both physically and mentally.
The first thing to note is that our bodies cannot tell whether laughter is genuine or faked, just so long as it is done with willingness or intent. A LY session is a group exercise where we all make eye contact and adopt an attitude of childlike playfulness whilst engaging in laughter activities. I know, it all sounds quite strange, right? Remember, everyone at a workshop is there for…. A laugh!! So even if the first few chuckles are fake, it doesn’t take long for the real laughter to flow.
Laughter is good for you, and to start to reap the benefits we need to laugh continuously for 10-15 minutes (either naturally or faking it becomes real.) That laughter needs to be loud, deep and hearty, coming from the diaphragm and then it starts to:
- raise the blood oxygen levels
- increase circulation
- relax muscles
- increase production of hormones to lower stress.
- increase the breathing capacity (vital capacity)
- stimulate the parasympathetic system
- elevate the mood
- strengthen the immune system
- helps maintain emotional balance
Laughter is an effective form of cardio workout! And it burns calories (tests show about 400 per 30 minutes, but I have seen people clock up a lot more than that!)
There are benefits for specific health issues including:
- reducing anxiety and panic attacks
- reduced hypertension
- possible improvements in diabetes
- bronchitis and asthma management
- reduction of trauma in cancer patients
Laughter Yoga has also been connected to a reduction in the intensity of pain, particularly associated with arthritis, spondylitis and muscular spasm. This is believed to be due to the release of natural opiates during a LY session.
A typical Laughter Yoga session starts with an explanation of what’s about to happen, some warm ups and then laughter exercises. Each session can be adapted for its audience – so whether you are old or young, healthy or unwell, physically able or seated, you can still join in. This is the part where the eye contact is encouraged, and we start to play and laugh.
When we have laughed enough, we then laugh some more – but in a different way. Either seated or lying on the ground, you have the opportunity to rest and release through laughter. This is a difficult experience to describe, but whether you have spontaneous bursts of laughter or are simply aware of others laughing, there is something rather wonderful about it. After a while, you are then guided into a deeply relaxing mind set, either using Yoga Nidra, Mindful Relaxation or Happiness Hypnosis.
My next workshop is on Tuesday 21st August 10.00-12.00 in Ballinger War Memorial Hall
Ballinger Common, Great Missenden BucksHP16 9LQ
If you would like a Laughter Yoga event of your own, or would like more information then contact [email protected]