We all know how it feels to share a laugh, but did you know how good laughter actually is for you? It can literally improve all areas of your wellbeing and prevent illness. And it’s fun! So fun, in fact, that people worldwide are reaping the benefits of it by participating in laughter yoga. Yes, laughter yoga.
Laughter yoga began in Mumbai India in 1995 as the brainchild of Dr. Madan Kataria. At the time, he wanted to offer his patients an alternative and enjoyable way to combat stress related illnesses, so he gathered five attendees together in an outdoor park for his first session. It is now practiced in over 65 countries.
Laughter yoga combines breathing and light physical exercise to stimulate laughter and uplift joy. The stretches are gentle in nature and should not deter anyone who is not enthused about exercise. If anything, it should encourage participation. Ten minutes of hearty laughter is equal to 30 minutes on a rowing machine, so regardless of your age, or personal physical health status, the benefits are endless - and they’re measurable. Not just physical benefits, but mental and emotional ones as well.
Laughter yoga stimulates the immune system causing an increase in Natural Kill Cells to combat disease. It has been proven to decrease stress levels (actual and perceived), improve heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and decrease blood levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Participants also show a decrease in negative emotions, and an increase in positive emotions.
One of the key mechanisms for physiological change is an increased delivery of oxygen to cells within the body. Metabolic reactions within those cells require oxygen as their primary catalyst, so it’s no wonder that a lack of it can lead to disease. Laughter yoga clears the lungs and fully oxygenates the blood that is carried to the major organs including your heart and brain.
Laughter yoga is a practical, enjoyable, and low-cost way to manage stress, boost your immune system, lower your blood pressure, combat disease, improve your attitude, and have some good old-fashioned fun. Through laughter comes joy, and through joy comes improvement in all things we hold dear.