What would you do if you approached your doctor with complaints about stress, anxiety, or depression and he handed you a prescription for...laughter? We know it sounds crazy, but studies have proven that laughter goes a long way in reducing all kinds of detrimental influences on our bodies. It is one of the most potent and addicting natural remedies out there for eliminating negative emotional turmoil. A perfectly timed joke can leave us smiling and laughing for the rest of the day! Laughter Yoga aims to harness the benefits of laughter and exercise, to create a type of fitness that will leave you feeling and looking like your optimal self.
Although yoga can trace its beginnings back to 400 CE, Laughter Yoga is a relatively new practice that was developed by Dr. Madan Kataria in Mumbai. He recognized the many benefits of laughter on mental and physical health, and sought to find a way to prescribe it to his patients…without getting laughed at! He strongly believed that laughter could improve people’s health and help them cope with the stresses of modern day living. He created a club of 5 people, which he dubbed the “Laughter Club,” and instructed them to meet once a week to share funny stories and jokes. In no time, the club grew to over 50 members. Unfortunately, some of the jokes became offensive, and complaints were raised, which forced Dr. Kataria to search for another outlet.
He quickly discovered that the body cannot actually distinguish between forced to laugh and genuine laughter; they both have positive effects on mental and physical wellbeing. He developed laughter exercises that were loosely based on theater exercises he had previously studied. As these exercises took shape, he realized that there were a vast amount of similarities between his newly developed practices and the art of pranayama yoga. He combined the two, and Laughter Yoga was born.
Laughter Yoga may sound silly and impractical, and we aren’t going to argue with you there. That is actually the intent of this particular art. Finding your inner child is one of the best ways to reduce stress and depression, and rediscover your sense of humor and happiness. In addition to reducing stress and depression, Laughter Yoga boasts an overwhelming amount of benefits. Participants insist that they are healthier and happier, and that consistent practice can actually help cure illnesses faster and strengthen the immune system. Studies have shown that Laughter Yoga can be used as an alternative treatment to lower high blood pressure, reduce the effects of allergies, asthma, and arthritis, and can even relieve pain in people with chronic illnesses. Laughter releases endorphins, which positively affect your mood, increasing your ability to maintain a positive mental attitude during negative situations. Plus, Laughter Yoga is a fantastic cardio workout. Practicing for just 10 minutes is the equivalent of 30 minutes on a rowing machine.
If you are looking for a way to whip your body and your sense of humor into shape, then it may be time to give Laughter Yoga a try! For more information on classes and the core values of Laughter Yoga, check out our sources below!