Today, as one of the segments I’m producing for my internship, I went to a Laughter Yoga class. That’s right Laughter Yoga. This delightful practice consists of breathing exercises and self-induced laughter, both of which aid in the release of stress. It is entirely based upon the idea that your body cannot tel the difference between real and fake laughter (and often, neither can you). I spent a hilarious hour with a bunch of strangers, and I laughed almost nonstop. It’s an incredible experience.
Laughter Yoga was developed in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria of India when, according to one of the instructors I interviewed, Dr. Kataria, after doing research on the benefits of laughter, went to the park and asked over 100 people to join him in laughter. He ended up with a group of five. They told jokes and made each other laugh for the first few weeks, but quickly ran out of jokes. In the end, after more research, Dr. Kataria realized that your body reaps the same benefits from fake laughter as it does from real laughter and therefore, they didn’t need a reason to laugh! Thus, laughter yoga was born, incorporating fake laughter (which turns into real laughter) with breathing exercises. Today there are thousands of Laughter Clubs, including the Laguna Laughter Club, which meets every day on Laguna Beach, 365 days a year, rain or shine, holiday or no.
But really, it’s an amazing thing to do. The women I spoke to said that after practicing for so long, they find themselves laughing at things that used to annoy them or make them angry. They find themselves using humor to keep them from getting down, even when they’re alone. And not only does Laughter Yoga make you feel emotionally happier, but it also has numerous health benefits, including:
- Blood & all major organs are fully oxygenated leaving us bursting with energy
- Blood pressure drops, circulation improves and pulse rate drops
- Depression is lifted, even chronic depression is often cured
- High endorphin levels put us in a great mood and reduce any aches & pains
- Immune, digestive & sexual systems that are switched off by stress are switched on
- Self confidence is boosted, communication skills and creativity are boosted
- Our lymphatic system is massaged and our immune systems boosted
- Stress levels reduce by 75% or more and we become more stress resistant
Add in the fact that, in terms of cardio stimulation, 10 minutes of hearty laughter are the equivalent of 30 minutes on a rowing machine, and I’m sold.
But beyond everything else, it’s an amazing opportunity to be carefree and happy, like you were when you were a child. The average child laughs up to 300 times per day. The average adult, 15-20 times. In the process of growing up, we lost a lot of the joy in our lives. I sincerely hope that I can work to change that in my own life. And laughter yoga is certainly one way to do it. It makes me sure that we can find joy even through our own personal gloom. Or, well, maybe that’s just the laughter talking…