Laughter yoga is good for health and happiness

As complementary health professionals, we know that mindful breathing can make a difference in the way we feel and react to daily stress, but did you know that laughter can have the same simple but profound effect on our health? and our well-being in general?

Sue Kuehn first tried laughter yoga a few years ago because she wanted to increase her lung capacity. It was a practical choice for treating a surgical complication. “I had a pulmonary embolism after knee replacement,” Kuehn explained.

The theory was that laughing deeply would help him breathe more deeply – and it worked. Lower blood pressure and anti-stress benefits are the side effects that prompted Kuehn to return to the Laughter Club, a group that practices laughter yoga.

Good medicine

You’ve heard the cliché, laughter is good medicine — and science backs it up.

In an article presented at an American Physiological Society session at Experimental Biology 2006, Lee S. Berk, DrPH., Associate research professor of pathology and human anatomy at Loma Linda University in Southern California, a reported that not only are there psychophysiological effects associated with laughter, only the anticipation the “happy laugh” involved in watching your favorite funny movie has very surprising and significant neuroendocrine and hormonal effects.

According to Berk, “the blood drawn from the experimental subjects just before watching the video contained 27% more beta-endorphins and 87% more human growth hormone compared to the blood of the control group, which did not have anticipated viewing a humorous video. . ”

Berk said the stark difference between the two groups in terms of blood levels of human growth hormone (HGH) and beta-endorphin was maintained just before the video started viewing, throughout the hour of viewing and after.

“Cheerful laughter decreases the secretion of cortisol and epinephrine, while improving immune responsiveness,” he said. “In addition, happy laughter stimulates the secretion of growth hormone, an activator of these same key immune responses.

“The physiological effects of a single hour-long session of watching a humorous video appear to last up to 12 to 24 hours in some people, while other studies of 30-minute daily exposure produce changes. deep and lasting in these measures. Said Yuck.

Laughter Yoga Teacher and Parkinson’s Patient Gita Fendelman says, “Laughter Yoga has helped me manage Parkinson’s disease from a mild perspective. I do “laughter diagnosis” all the time and it helps me make lemonade from lemons.

“Laughter yoga also helps me deal with chronic pain, which can be arthritis or a symptom of Parkinson’s disease,” she adds. “Overall laughter yoga has made life wonderful and allowed me to joke about Parkinson’s disease. For example, what do you call a person with Parkinson’s disease who is trying to tan? Shake and cook!

Intentional laughter

Laughter Yoga is an innovative idea that anyone can laugh at for no reason. Simple laughter exercises are combined with gentle, yogic breathing as a form of stress management and fitness.

As participants complete the laughter exercises, authentic laughter is created through eye contact and childish play. This experience is more than fun; it can be transformational.

The concept of Laughter Yoga was developed in 1995 by an Indian doctor trained in the West: Madan Kataria, and his wife, Madhuri, a yoga teacher. It’s based on the idea that the body doesn’t differentiate between a real laugh or a simulated laugh, so you get all of the same physiological health benefits by faking it until it becomes real.

Movement creates emotion. Recognizing that a person does not need to be in a good mood to participate in Laughter Yoga, members focus on exercises, breathing and movement, knowing that the residual effects will come after each session.

As adults, many of us wait until we perceive something so funny and funny before we laugh. This model is based on our cognitive abilities to determine whether we should laugh at a situation or not. It’s mostly conditional and it means we might not laugh as often as we could.

Another model is the child model. Children laugh most often when playing. Their laughter does not come from their mind, but from their body. Here, the source of laughter is in the body and you can use it whenever needed, because you can move your body at will.

Thus, intentional laughter means making the choice to laugh: laughing instead of complaining, and releasing negative energies before they have a chance to take hold in our bodies and create disease, unhappiness and even the Depression.

“Laughter yoga has kept me coming back because the ‘uplifting’ feeling I get at home lasts for days,” says Nancy Plato, a retired teacher who attends the Sioux Falls Laughter Club in the United States. South Dakota. “If you make a commitment to truly join in and participate fully in laughter, there are definite emotional and psychological benefits.”

Laughter Yoga uses the child model, where laughter is initiated in the body through mock laughter exercises. Once the inhibitions are lifted, the laughter begins to flow quite easily. The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on the cultivation of childish playfulness, to induce laughter in the body first, followed by the mind.

Laughter exercises

• Laugh on the cell phone: Hold an imaginary cell phone; pretend it sounds. Put it to your ear and laugh at what you hear. Move around and share with others while they laugh at yours, and you laugh at them.

• Library laughs: You are in the library and you have a good laugh. You have to shut up and the librarian comes in, so you try to stifle your laughter. Move over and say “Shhhhh” to each other.

Benefits of laughter

The physical benefits of laughter yoga include an increase in endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers; increased serotonin, the body’s natural antidepressant; increased lung capacity and oxygen supply; and a strengthened immune system.

Emotional and mental benefits include improved social bonds, an overall improved sense of well-being, and a broader perspective on issues.

Everyone who laughs speaks the same language, and because we laugh for no reason, the benefits are felt by anyone who is willing to try it.

Laughter yoga is effective for businesses because it level the playing field and cultivates creativity, cooperation and joy at work.

It works with cancer patients because it moves the lymphatic system and oxygenates the body. Parkinson’s disease patients who have depleted serotonin and dopamine enjoy laughter yoga because it helps create natural hormones that relieve depression.

Laughter is effective against depression and grief because it builds community and fosters friendships and trust. It works for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease because deep belly breaths strengthen and exercise the lungs.

And for the average person, it’s a way to reconnect with their inner child and make their way through this crazy thing that is life. We can all enjoy laughter.

Join a club

Laughter clubs are the backbone of laughter yoga. Kataria started the first laughter club in India with just five people in a park. There are now thousands of Laughter Clubs around the world.

They are independent, non-political, non-religious, non-competitive and community-based associations of people where everyone is welcome, regardless of their gender, age, physical ability and social or economic background.

Many laughter clubs are non-profit and are a way for individuals to give back to their community.

Nancy Dickinson, a college professor and massage therapist, recalls her husband Pat’s first laughter yoga experience at the McKennan Park Summer Laughter Club in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“The first time I pulled Pat into the park I said we were going to smell the flowers and, ‘Oh by the way, there are some of my laughing yoga friends,” she said. declared.

“He was a good athlete and he quickly felt the benefits of fake laughter becoming real,” Dickinson added. “We laughed all the way home, her arthritis pain temporarily subsided and our walk was more enjoyable for her.”

The Sioux Falls Laughter Club has met weekly for many years and follows the Kataria philosophy of “all are welcome”. Participants include people from a local group home for adults with special needs, people who come in for exercise, and others who assist with social connections.

It’s a wonderful way to make friends and let go of everyday stress. There are clubs all over the world, and if there aren’t any in your city, you can start one.

Once people get involved in the process, the laughter comes from a deeper place. It can heal emotional wounds because when you laugh with other people, looking them in the eye, it’s hard not to feel good about yourself.

About the Author:

As Kataria says, “When you laugh, you change, and when you change, the world around you changes. Jill Johnson and her husband, Dan, offer laughter leader training, corporate wellness programs, laughter life coaching, laughter therapy and laughter resources. They are dynamic presenters who specialize in uplifting, experiential presentations suitable for any organization, whether they are business leaders, church staff, or patients with chronic illnesses. Dan is also a registered massage therapist.

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