Laughter yoga is an exercise routine that is gaining in popularity due to its effectiveness and the fun that people have while doing it. It was created by Dr. Madan Katria, a physician from Mumbai. He started a laughter club in 1995 with only five people, and since then, the practice has spread across the world.
Laughter, or Hasya yoga, uses empowering, playful and stress-relieving laughter exercises. It includes gentle breathing and stretching, as with traditional yoga, as well as rhythmic clapping and “ho ho ha ha” chanting. It improves health, promotes peace and community, and increases feelings of well-being.
Sessions typically last about half an hour and the group can adapt the sessions to their needs. Critics point out that the stress relief that comes from yoga is actually a response to other stimuli, as opposed to the physical activity involved in laughter. But those that practice laughter yoga will attest that nothing makes them feel better.
Laughter yoga is a combination of traditional yogic breathing and laughter. Laughter is simulated without humour, but as the group loosens up, the laughter will no doubt flow naturally. Laughter clubs have spread throughout the world as people learn the benefits of combining the restorative effects of laughter and the stress-relief of yoga. The clubs are social, and free to participate in. They are run by volunteers, and are open to all individuals that want to reap the benefits of laughter yoga.
The ultimate objective of laughter yoga is to build world peace. The belief is that if people are in good health, and are experiencing joy, that feeling will spread, and lead to world peace. The speed with which the clubs are spreading proves that this is all too possible.
Laughter yoga can be a life changing experience. There are clubs that meet each morning in public parks. The meetings make members happy, energised and healthy. They are filled with positive energy after each meeting, and this helps them cope with stress and resist depressions. There have been practitioners that have found the effects of laughter yoga so profound, they have have been able to stop taking medications for their depression.
Many people also report improved health. They may reduce respiratory conditions, lessen the effects of the common cold, and find new ways to cope with chronic pain, sometimes healing it altogether. The effects of yoga have some scientific basis. Studies have shown that laughter releases endorphins that have positive effects on health and well-being.
Laughter yoga is an excellent aerobic exercise, and it impacts your mind, body, and emotions. Yoga busts stress, reducing the risk of physiological disorders, psychological disorders, hypertension, and cardiac problems. It strengthens the immune system and helps in the fight against infections, cancer, and allergies. It increases circulation and the supply of oxygen to the body’s cells. The best part of all is that Yoga is an easy to follow routine that anyone can learn and put into practice.
Where is it Used
The practice of laughter yoga can be used in schools, businesses, and with seniors and cancer patients. The workout can be mild or intense, depending upon the goals of the practitioners. The yoga is appealing to many groups because of this flexibility. This yoga has also been used in prison, and with those that are mentally or physically challenged. It is amazing how the “work” of exercise goes unnoticed when you are having a great time.
In 1995, Dr. Madan Kataria was researching the powerful effects of laughter. This prompted him to create a group of people that would gather and start a laughter club. Initially, this group of five spent time together just laughing. They soon found though that with a growing group, senses of humour varied widely and some of their members were offended by the material meant to induce laughter. Dr. Kataria did additional research and found that the body is unable to differentiate between real and fake laughter. Thus, he adapted the method of the laughter club to use forced laughter, which the body still responded to the same as it did natural laughter. Within a short time, the doctor combined his laughter club with his wife’s yoga practice, and Laughter Yoga was born.
Guidelines to Achieve The Yoga Meditation
There are a few guidelines for a successful and restorative Laughter Yoga session:
- Sit comfortably within your group
- Make eye contact
- Do not try to converse, sit silently and be aware of breathing
- Initiate the laughter in a slow, gradual manner
- Accept that your laughter may be mixed with tears and emotional breakthroughs