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Laughter Yoga is About More than Just Fun

When was the last time you had a hard gut-busting belly laugh?

According to researchers at the European Society of Cardiology, laughter has a positive effect on vascular function and blood flow, and plays an important role in preventing cardiovascular disease, much like the benefits of aerobic exercise.

In an effort to induce more laughter into our lives, Madan Kataria, a doctor from India created the very first Laughter Yoga Social Club, gathering with just a handful of people at an outdoor park in Mumbai. Since its debut in 1995, Laughter Yoga has become a worldwide phenomenon with more than 6000 Social Laughter Clubs in 60 countries.

Jeffrey Briar is a master teacher and one of the leading American instructors of Laughter Yoga. As the director of the Laughter Yoga Institute of Laguna Beach, California, Jeffrey founded the first Laughter Yoga Club (outside of India) that meets seven days a week. The club has over 20,000 participants and has gained local and international press.

Why do it?

Clinical researches at the University of Graz in Austria, in Bangalore, India and in the United States suggest many benefits of Laughter Yoga methods. One very large benefit is that it alleviates depression for the following reasons:

  • Lowers stress hormones, raises “feel good” hormones
  • Fosters a positive and hopeful attitude
  • Helps to relieve insomnia
  • Increases sense of community and connection

How does it work?

Laughter Yoga provides a cardiac workout with respiratory benefits. When one is laughing, the body takes in fresh oxygen by breathing from the diaphragm. This deep, diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and as a result the mind and body relaxes and stress and anxiety is reduced.

What should you expect?

A Laughter Yoga session has four steps:

Step 1. Class begins with clapping and warm up exercises with simple chanting of “HO, HO, HA-HA-HA” or speaking “gibberish” to stimulate diaphragmatic breathing and laughing.

Step 2. Deep breathing exercises are practiced to increase the flood of fresh oxygen into the lungs.

Step 3. Childlike playfulness is encouraged to promote laughing for no reason.

Step 4. Various laughter exercises are practiced followed by Laughter Meditation.

Who benefits?

Anyone can benefit from Laughter Yoga and there is no experience necessary. Therapists, fitness trainers, social workers, counselors, psychologists and psychotherapists may find value in learning more about it.

Where is it practiced?

Laughter Yoga can be found in parks, schools, prisons and hospitals, as well as at work, senior centers and in mental health centers.

What is the cost?

Laughter Yoga Clubs are free. Volunteer certified Laughter Yoga teachers run the clubs and do not require a membership fee.

Also Read:

Laughter is the Best Medicine

The Benefits of Joyful Play

The Health Benefits of Yoga

September 7th, 2011

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