Do you think you have nothing to laugh about? Try a session of Laughter Yoga and you may change your mind.
“Laughter yoga, as an established practice, was developed in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria, a medical doctor in India who was researching the effects of laughter on the human body,” said Valerie Clote, a certified Laughter Yoga leader. “He found out that the human body wasn’t able to distinguish between real laughter and fake or intentional one: the benefits were exactly the same, no matter if the people were really laughing or pretending to do so.”
Such benefits include a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, increase in feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and endorphins, and improvement of the respiratory, digestive, immune and cardiovascular systems.
“Besides these wonderful physical effects, laughter also helps people achieve better emotional balance,” said Clote. “It relieves anxiety, alleviates depression and fosters a positive mental attitude. This is no laughing matter is today’s stressed our world!”
A funny workout
Laughter Yoga incorporates play, laughter and deep yogic breathing, or Pranayama. Unlike traditional types of yoga, it doesn’t require people to learn difficult postures or hold them for any length of time.
“And yet Laughter Yoga is a form of aerobic exercise,” said Clote. “Only ten minutes of laughter is equivalent to thirty minutes on a rowing machine. It increases circulation and the supply of oxygen to the body.”
The exercises can be practiced alone or in a group, though the collective format tends to produce better results, said Clote.
“Laughter is highly contagious,” she said. “It’s difficult to see someone laughing and not laugh yourself, even if there is no particular reason for it.”
Laughing together establishes a special connection among fellow laughees, a link that goes beyond cultures and languages.
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