There is an old saying that, “Laughter is the best medicine,” if that’s true then ‘Laughter Yoga’ is a unique blend of yoga and “medicine. Yoga known as, “the moving meditation” has been proven in clinical research and a variety of studies to have awesome benefits to the body and emotions. Yoga reduces high blood pressure, eases chronic back pain, and has beneficial effects on the heart, the lungs and the even the attitude.
Yoga is always good for your health. Yoga has public devotees which include famous celebrities and athletes. Ashton Kutcher, Beyonce, Kareem, Madonna, Abdul-Jabbar, Lady Gaga, Kobe Bryant, and George Clooney are all known to practice yoga in one form or another.
“Laughter Yoga” is getting a lot of attention these days and is a growing phenomenon, particularly in urban settings (New York City is a Laugh Yoga mecca) . The combination of laughter therapy with the more traditional Yoga poses (asana) is said to be the solution to the stress of living in the digital world.
Both meditation and yoga have their roots in the East. Although yoga had been around for thousands of years, the growing practice of “Laughter Yoga” appears to be a morphing of the ancient practices with the modern world.
Is Laughter the Best Medicine?
Over 30 years ago, author, Norman Cousins, wrote an article in the “New England Journal of Medicine“ talking about how laughter may have saved his life. Although the medical benefits of yoga are well documented, there has been very little medical research geared towards proving that laughter has medicinal value.
It was not till 1995, that laughter became “Laughter Yoga”, and started to develop and spread through local laughter yoga clubs, primarily in New York.
“Laughter Yoga” comes from the concept of hasya yoga, which loosely means a “belly bursting laugh”. The number of yoga clubs has grown dramatically, in the last decade. In the United States more than 500 laughter yoga clubs have formed. In India, the birthplace of yoga, “Yoga Laughter” is now a growing social and spiritual trend.
There is an old saying that, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Researchers claim that, the average 5 year old laughs as much as 400 times a day. On the other hand, most adults are lucky if they get to chuckle 8 to 15 times a day.
Proponents of “Laugh Yoga” are persuaded that the training rejuvenates your body and uplifts your spirit. They believe that the practice of “Laugh Yoga” lets us become children again and experience joy, that we may be missing as adults. When we laugh, our bodies release hormones and endorphins that have positive effects on our physical system.
When you have a long deep laugh, there is an immediate increase in your heart and respiratory rates. You breathe deeply and this is followed by a relaxation of muscles, with a drop in the heart rate, respiratory rates, and blood pressure. Increased blood circulation and increased oxygen to the brain are results of the physiological act of laughing.
The physiology seems to have positive side effects….no one has ever really died laughing! The very act of laughing has no known negative side effects.
Although, there have been many studies that seem to link laughter to improved health, the evidence is not conclusive. The traditional medical community has not definitively accepted “Laugh Yoga” or even laughing, as a cure for disease or illness. There is still debate about its long-term positive physiological benefits.
Regardless, those that practice it, claim that they receive tremendous benefits. They say it removes insecurities and helps achieve emotional balance. Many people report improved concentration, awareness and self-discipline.
“Laugh Yoga” emphasizes spiritual enlightenment, through healing or “laughing out” the fears, complications, hassles and tension. They insist that it brings about a positive attitude, and healthier body. Like most serious meditative practices, an individual transformation should result from regular constant practice.
When yoga is blended with laughter, it somehow seems less mysterious to most people. Laugh Yoga or Laugh Meditation is within reach of everyone and it seems to be an easy and enjoyable way to relieve stress.
Your “Laugh Yoga” Session
Different clubs, studios and sessions emphasize very diverse techniques.
As with all yoga, there is a major physical element. The sessions typically last 20 to 30 minutes. The size of the group may vary, but it is important that a group is present. Instructors lead playful laughing exercises. Gentle breathing and stretching exercises, along with rhythmic clapping and unison chanting are taught. Often the laughter is first simulated with “Ho Ha Ha” to begin the process.
Laughter is supposed to occur naturally during the techniques. The students are often affected, by each other. “Laughter is contagious.” During the time of the session, there is constant laughter. The laughter itself is like a work-out. The lungs and blood pressure get exercised. Fresh oxygen, is supposed to give a boost to the immune system and to the attitude. The laughter comes from deep within the diaphragm, but those who practice “Laugh Yoga” argue that it really comes straight from the heart.
People’s lives are much more stressful and complicated than they once were. There is an incredible amount of stress and loneliness. Life is far more intricate and the simple easy life is a thing of the past. It appears that this may be the “new normal” especially for people who live in an urban setting. Stress reduction and management skills including yoga and meditation are proven in personal results and medical studies to have mind-body-spirit results. Those that practice most forms of yoga believe it cultivates your health, teaches patience, and has a multitude of other advantages. Those that practice “Laughter Yoga” are convinced that it cultivates a sense of balance, composes the mind, and creates a joyful spirit. “Laugh Yoga” seems like the best of both worlds. The consensus is that it may help to calm your body and your soul…who knows, if you try it you may have the “last laugh.”
In Dallas-Ft Worth you can look for a “joyful” work-out at:
17062 Preston Rd., Suite 108
Dallas, TX. 75248
Mid-Cities Wellness Center
466 Mid Cities Blvd.