Laughter Yoga© is relatively new. I typically turn my nose up at new-fangled yoga trends. But Laughter Yoga is therapy. Medicine.
Skip the coffee and take your daily dose of laughter first thing in the morning. Or, take a laughter break instead of a coffee break to reenergize you. We know you should never go to bed angry. If you’re feeling resentment, hurt, or distress, laugh it off. Accept that you, and only, you can make that lemonade — or sweet dreams.
Laughter is a natural therapeutic. Small children tend to laugh more than 100 times each day. Even babies giggle when you tickle their tummies. Kids may have a laugh attack if you tickle their feet or underarms. It is instinctive. Although the chortles can be hard to stop — they are easy to induce. Consider this: humans are the only animals that have a laughter response mechanism. Moreover, no other animal can provoke laughter in others.
The beauty of mankind. The miracles of our beings. The magic of laughter.
Laughter Yoga, Created and Prescribed by a Doctor
Most of us can connect the dots between laughter and an immediate surge of good vibes. If you are down in the dumps, a funny joke or romantic comedy movie may lift your spirits. That’s because laughter releases tension and the “feel-good” hormones. Endorphins.
Those chemicals, released primarily by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, are natural opiates more powerful than morphine. As I detail in my upcoming book, one of my gurus confirms that laughter gave him the pain relief that no pharmaceutical drug could. Best of all, there are no perilous side effects. The only danger is a smidgeon of embarrassment if you chuckle at the wrong time or the wrong place.
Laughter Clubs are a safe space. Laugh as loudly as you like. If you have a crazy cackle? Even better. You will contribute to the merriment of the other participants.
Laughter Clubs first began in 1995. A physician in Mumbai, Dr. Madan Kataria, was researching the health benefits of unbridled laughter. So impressed by the indicated outcomes, he gathered people in a park for a daily dose of laughter. Soon after, his yogi wife added breathing techniques from pranayama to boost the benefits. The result: Laughter Yoga.
Benefits of Laughing
There are so many reasons to try Laughter Yoga. Here are a few:
- Just 20 minutes of laughter brings about a wide range of physiological benefits.
- Don’t tell Arnold Schwarzenegger, but laughter tones your belly muscles. But if you’d rather do a hundred sit-ups a day, be my guest.
- Loud and deep bursts of laughing flush the lungs. Or, you can climb Mount Everest to give your lungs a workout.
- Hearty laughter increases the levels of infection-fighting immunoglobulin. With no injections.
- Spurts of laughter ramp up antibodies in the bloodstream. That produces a positive effect on the white blood cells that kick in to fight infections like Kung Fu Fighting.
- Deep diaphragmatic breathing is a deep cleanse for the lymph system.
- Just 20 minutes of hearty laughter gives you the same cardiopulmonary workout as one hour on the rowing machine. If I had to row on a river for a full hour, I wouldn’t get too far.
- And of course, you’ve got your feel-good hormones kicking in to play. So share some of the secret sauce with friends and family.
Free Laughter Yoga
To entice people to give it a shot, I’m offering free biweekly 30-minute sessions via Zoom. Contact me for the times and Zoom access code. The first class will be at 3 p.m. CT, Tuesday, March 30. Spread the word. Tag or share with someone who needs some laughing. Make it a “play date” and invite whomever you think can benefit from the initial session. If that time and date don’t work for you, send me a message with your preferred time slot.
It’s easier than you think. And as always, the first try can be the hardest. So commit to two of my free Zoom sessions. Make it even better by having someone close to you in another Zoom window with you.
Easy as Play
Laughter Yoga can be done seated in front of your computer. Although I may cue you to get up and stretch. Or, shake your booty.
There are no “poses.” But, it is an aerobic workout. That’s because of the breathwork and the belly muscles constantly working.
You do not need a mat or gym clothes. You can be barefoot or wearing fancy cowboy boots. Just don’t tighten your heavy brass belt buckle. Loose, comfortable clothing is best. Like what I wear 24/7.
You can get a booster shot of spontaneous laughter therapy by tuning in to SNL. But Laughter Yoga is about the simulation. In other words, “fake it until you make it.”
Laughter Yoga is playful. Get back to laughing 100 times a day. Be childlike. Lighten up. Get rid of heavy burdens. Even if for 20 minutes. It makes a big difference.
Relive the childhood merriment. Add merriment into every day without worrying about what others think. Reconnect to your inner child. Reboot true happiness. Connect to the all-important love of self, nature, and everything around you.
As my coach Liliana De Leo, of Living Laughter, said during a TEDx talk, “Laugh for health, laugh for healing. It’s about time we laugh, and let go more. It’s up to us to laugh bold. Laugh strong. If you get to laugh with others, hallelujah.”