Imagine sitting in a yoga studio with your eyes shut and hands gently rested on your knees, which are folded in a lotus position. Your heart rate is beginning to drop after completing 45 minutes of a basic vinyasa flow, when your instructor tells the class to draw in a large inhale through the nose and exhale through forceful laughter. Seriously. Think this yogi is crazy? Think again.
Laughter Yoga is a revolutionary wellbeing exercise developed by Dr. Madan Kararia, and is based on the scientific benefit of laughter on the human body to combat stress, depression and isolation. Since your body can’t differentiate between real and fake laughter, the same physiological and psychological effects of “real” laughter occur while practicing. Specifically, laughter yoga helps to put you in a good mood throughout the day (thanks to the release of endorphins in the brain), and it helps you bring oxygen to the body and brain, which makes you feel energized and more relaxed. As if that wasn’t enough, this practice also helps to reduce stress and decrease your risk of getting sick, and encourages you to engage in a more positive state of mind.
Jeffrey Briar, Director of the Laughter Yoga Institute in Laguna Beach, California and Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher and Leader since 2005 from Laughter Yoga University, tells us, “There is too much stress in our lives. With laughter yoga, we can become free of emotional stress in a matter of minutes.” He says that once we learn the techniques of laughter yoga, we can develop connectedness and friendship with others, which can help us steer away feelings of loneliness and depression.
The best part about this exercise is that it’s for everyone. There are no religious affiliations tied to laughing, and the research to support its positive impact is undeniable. Nira Berry, Certified Life Coach from the International Coaching Federation and Certified Laughing Yoga Teacher, claims that aside from the scientifically proven benefits of laughing, laughter yoga “makes you feel great! Everyone is happier when they laugh, especially if you can laugh together with friends.”
If you’re interested, check out these two awesome influential leaders in the laughter yoga world and see what their line of work is all about. After all, laughter is the best medicine for all sorts of things, especially for those who are swamped in the stressful hustle and bustle of the modern world.
Ever practice laughter yoga, or something similar to it? Share your experience below!
(Photo via Laughter Yoga)