Laughter Yoga started in 1995 by Dr Madan Kataria in a park in Mumbai with just five participants. Today there are over 10,000 laughter clubs in 76 different countries – just showing the need to laugh around the world.
Laughter Yoga is based on the principal that your body doesn’t know the difference between fake and genuine laughter. As long as you are willing to laugh you will get the same psychological and physiological benefits of laughter.
- It is not based on jokes but just a willingness to connect with your inner joy or playfulness.
- It is a combination of deep yogic breathing and playful laughter exercises.
- It is usually practiced in groups where you can make eye contact and connect with your sense of childlike fun.
- Laughter Yoga celebrated 20 years in 2015 and tens of thousands of individuals have benefited from this practice all over the world.
- Laughter Yoga is now widely accepted by the medical and scientific communities and large organisations are increasingly using Laughter Yoga to enhance the wellbeing of their staff.
Laughter yoga is a fantastic way of keeping fit and healthy whist having fun. When we laugh our body benefits in these ways:
STIMULATES CIRCULATION AND RESPIRATION - becuase we breathe in deeply and fill the lungs in order to laugh, this brings more oxygen into the body and energises the lungs and respiratory system.
BOOSTS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM - researchers at Linda Loma Medical Centre, Indiana State University and the National Cancer Centre in California found that the immune system is boosted by up to an an amazing 40% after laughter!
HEALTHY HEARTS - recent research showed that our hearts like a good laugh. Research Scientists at the University of Maryland in Baltimore showed funny videos to volunteers who were tested 160 times before, during and after watching the films. They found that when the subjects laughed the blood flow increased through their body by 22%. As we laugh the blood vessels in our body expand increasing blood flow and improving the circulatory system.
TONES THE MUSCLES and internal organs. When you have a good belly laugh muscle tone is improved helping us get a flat tummy and aiding digestion.
ENCOURAGES THE RELEASE OF ENDORPHINS which give us the feel good factorand often known as the Happy Hormones. Endorphins are ‘self-made morphine” which brings about a natural high, but it also works as a painkiller.
PAIN MANAGEMENT TOOL Research by Professor Robin Dunbar one of Britain’s leading evolutionary biologists, from Oxford University, assessed pain tolerance of two groups of people, one who had watched nature videos and the other comedy videos. The results revealed that those who watched the comedy videos and laughed the most had a heightened pain tolerance.
BLOOD PRESSURE COMES DOWN - during laughter blood pressure is increased but after a good laugh the resting rate is lower, so blood pressure comes down after a laugh.
Everyone knows about stress today, but when you learn that you can choose to change the way you feel and replace that stressed out feeling with a blissed out feeling - it’s very empowering.
75% of illness is stress related and stress is the biggest cause of absenteeism at work replacing back ache. Laughter is a great stressbuster and if you can introduce laughter into the workplace it not only encourages better communication, increases creativity, reduces absenteeism but everyone feels happier and more connected. When your workforce is happy they stay in their jobs saving the company money on recruitment and training so it is a win win situation.
Even a 5 - 10 minute Laughter Yoga session can provide a great energy boost during long training sessions and conferences. It helps to increase the attention span, as well as to enhance learning skills, concentration and potential.
With practice you can learn to laugh on your own and to laugh more readily to boost your immune system. I have been laughing since 2002 and have only been ill with a cough twice in 14 years! There is a telephone laughter club each morning where you start your day with a laugh over the phone, and it really sets you up for the rest of the day. No talking - just laughing.
When you learn to lighten up with laughter your world improves and that improves the world of others around you. Dr Kataria’s mission is world peace through laughter and when you learn to get happy on the inside you are happy on the outside.
“We don’t laugh because we are happy - we are happy because we laugh”
Check out Julie Whitehead's www.laughteryoga.co.uk for training and events.