If you’ve ever had a really good belly laugh, you’ve been practicing Laughter Yoga without even knowing it. Do you remember how fantastic it felt to just let go and how much better you felt afterwards? In fact, scientific research shows that laughter is extremely beneficial to our health on many levels – physical, mental and emotional.
In the early 1990’s an Indian doctor named Madan Kataria became interested in the concept of laughter as a healing tool. As part of an experiment, he launched a ‘Laughter Club’ and tried out different ways of getting people to laugh. Since research shows that our bodies can’t distinguish between pretend and genuine laughter, he eventually hit on the idea of starting the session by getting everyone to act as if they were laughing. Pretty soon, everyone was laughing for real and Laughter Yoga was born.
Some of the many benefits of laughing include:
- Flushing stale air from your lungs
- Increasing oxygen levels in your body
- Boosting your immune system
- Improving digestion
- Improving your sense of humour
- Improving your mood by releasing endorphins
- Alleviating stress, fear and anxiety
- Maintaining emotional balance
- Reducing mental ‘noise’
- Creating a positive mental state
- Improving productivity
- Boosting self-confidence and self-esteem
These easy Laughter Yoga exercises may seem silly but that’s part of the point. They work especially well if you’re with a group of friends. Give them a try:
Laugh it real
Pretend you’re laughing aloud until you start laughing for real.
Imagine you’re sitting on a motorbike holding a pair of imaginary handlebars. Kick-start your bike, rev and pretend you’re weaving in and out of traffic, laughing insanely as you go.
Electric shock laughter
Chant ‘aeee’ as you approach an object and touch it with one finger. Pretend it gives you an electric shock, jump backwards and laugh.
Greet people the way you normally would e.g. shake hands or hug, and replace the words with laughter.
Image credit: Martin via Flickr