Laughter may be the best medicine after all. Laughing is found to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and boost the function of the immune system; it also triggers the release of endorphins, increases pain tolerance, and promotes general wellbeing. The “therapy” takes advantage of the natural benefits of laughing and channels them for psychological gain. Ensuring a healthy quotient of laughter every day is a great way to up your quality of life.
Through the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Enlightenment, doctors and philosophers advised laughter as a supplement to more traditional forms of care, with such figures as Martin Luther and Voltaire suggesting its use. In the modern era, some hospitals began to bring in clowns in to attend to sick children and keep their spirits up. Now therapeutic Laughter Yoga and Wellness groups have sprung up around the world, offering some of the cheapest, easiest, and most fun therapy around.
Last month I trained as a Laughter Yoga Leader and our inaugural Peaceful Wellness Laughter Yoga session on Zoom was this past Tuesday, June 29th. We had an absolute fun roaring time! Please join us on Zoom on Tuesdays at 12 Noon Central Time and at the Peaceful Wellness Studio on July 18th.
Here’s a little of me leading the Laughter Yoga session.
What is Laughter Yoga? Developed by Dr. Madan Kateria in 1995 in Mumbia, India. Laughter Yoga is a unique concept where anyone can laugh for exercise or social connection without the use of humor, jokes or comedy. With Laughter Yoga we initiate this laughter as exercise in a group but with eye contact and youthful playfulness it soon becomes real, spontaneous and contagious laughter.
We call it Laughter Yoga because we combine playful laughter exercises with yogic breathing which allows us to bring much more oxygen into the body and brain making us feel healthier and much more energetic. We use guided relaxation to close our session.
The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on scientific studies that show the body can’t tell the difference between real or fake laughter. You get the same physiological and psychological benefits.
Sometimes in stressful situations, when the benefits of humor therapy are needed most, you may not have something at the ready, or the stress may keep you from seeing the humor in the situation. In that case, here is a meditation on humor to do whenever you need the therapy of a laugh:
- Stretch generally to loosen up any physical tension that may hold you back. Make sure you get your arms, shoulders, back, chest, and legs.
- Now, as silly as it seems, start faking laughter. Make yourself go through the motions of a good belly laugh. Soon, the contagiousness of the act of laughter alone will take hold. You’ll begin to laugh spontaneously and genuinely. Throw your head back and laugh from the heart.
- Do this for five minutes at least, or for as long as the laughter takes.
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