I must admit, this one was a bit odd to me, and not something I’ve ever tried, until I sat down to research this post. I felt quite silly and made sure I was alone, as I was participating in the videos below. However, isn’t that the whole purpose…to be silly?
What I found? It was fun and my laughter, which began fake, became genuine in the end. As my research indicates, laughter is INCREDIBLY beneficial. You reap the benefits of an aerobic workout by GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS OF LAUGHTER. In other words, it doesn’t have to be genuine laughter, because your body can’t tell the difference.
Benefits of laughter – Shares benefits with aerobic exercise! (1)
- The movement of the diaphragm floods the body with oxygen.
- Releases the same endorphins which cause the effect known as “the runners high” In fact, it has been found that endorphins increase by approximately 27%
- Research shows that HGH (the anti-aging – human growth hormone) increased by 87% when subjects THOUGHT ABOUT watching a funny movie.
- Reduces stress hormone levels, such as cortisol and adrenaline.
- A good laugh burns 3 1/2 calories
- Exercises the abs, as well as the shoulders
- Laughing for 15 seconds adds 2 days to your life
- Helps eliminate negative emotions such as fear, sadness, and anger
- Improves circulation and cardiovascular health
- 15 minutes of laughter is equivalent to 2 hours of sleep
The history of laughter yoga (3)
In 1995, Dr. Madan Kataria was writing an article entitled “Laughter – the best medicine”. He discovered the many wonderful, and proven benefits of laughter. Inspired by what he found, Dr. Kataria decided to test the impact of laughter on real individuals.
On March 13, 1995, he ventured to a local park, and recruited 4 people to start a “laughter club”. They began laughing in the park, and the group quickly grew to 50 participants. They began by standing in a circle, with one person in the middle telling jokes. As you might imagine, this didn’t work well, and within 2 weeks, they ran out of “material”.
Dr. Kataria went back to his research and discovered one important factor: your body can’t tell the difference between real laughter and fake laughter. Both ways produce the same benefits and beneficial body chemistry. So, he went back to his club and suggested they “act out” laughter for one minute and the results were wonderful.
For many individuals in the club, the fake laughter quickly became contagious and turned into genuine laughter. Instead of just one minute, they session went on for almost 10 minutes. It was after this class, that Dr. Kataria developed a routine and specific laughter exercises, developed around pranayama/yogic breathing, and laughter yoga was born.
What happens in a laughter yoga session? Here are the four steps. (2)
- Step 1: Clapping and Warming-up Exercises – Full finger-to-finger and palm-to-palm clapping, with movements, chanting and rhythm
- Step 2: Deep Breathing Exercises – In between laughter exercises, participants do deep breathing exercises.
- Step 3: Childlike Playfulness – Acting in a childlike way or swinging arms up into a Y shape with “thumbs up in childish exuberance and exhilaration“.
- Step 4: Laughter Exercises – Three types of laughter exercises
- yogic laughter – based on yogic breathing
- playful laughter – Convert forced laughter into genuine laughter, as well as reduce shyness/inhibition
- value-based laughter – Increase positive feelings
LIBERATING YOUR LAUGHTER TEDX TALK (12:55 MINUTES) – The benefits of laughter and history of laughter yoga, along with a short laughter yoga routine. It’s interesting because she talks about her discomfort at laughing for no reason, saying it was “out of her comfort zone.” As I said above, you do feel a bit silly at first.
HOW TO DO LAUGHTER YOGA
4 STEPS OF LAUGHTER YOGA (5:42 MINUTES)
100 LAUGHTER YOGA EXERCISES (11 MINUTES) – This includes several routines to do on a regular basis.
Although this form of yoga is a bit unusual, it’s fun and literally anyone can do it! As you can see from the list of benefits, you really can’t go wrong with this one. After all, who doesn’t want the benefits of running….WITHOUT HAVING TO RUN?
Until next time…Namaste my friends.