You are probably familiar with yoga, asanas and maybe tried meditation or even chanting. But have you heard of laughter yoga?
Laughter yoga is a laughing technique that applies yoga breathing exercises or pranayama. Laughter yoga was created in 1995 by Madan Kataria, and since then it has expanded throughout the world. A certified yoga laughter professional instructor guides a laughter yoga class. A laughter yoga class consists of gentle stretches, body movement, clapping, chanting or singing, and any other creative ideas to make it more fun.
When I heard of laughter yoga, it just sounded weird to me. I didn’t even give it a second chance and dismiss it. I imagined doing any yoga asanas and laughing all of a sudden; this was far from reality. After a while, I grew curious to know what exactly is laughter yoga, so I did my research. Laughter yoga is more like a laugh group therapy that in a control way helps you to release emotional and physical stress.
What is yoga?
Yoga is a holistic practice that originated in India 5000 years ago, and nowadays, it’s all around the world.
The word yoga means to unite, to bring together. Yoga aims to connect all aspects of you into one. So that your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual parts are in balance.
Yoga is experiential; you will go on a journey to discover your self, your capabilities and limitations and go beyond the boundaries of your mind and body. Yoga is not a competitive practice; you go at your own pace; the only person involves in this journey it’s you.
Yoga has many aspects; yoga is asana, pranayama, chanting, meditation, and diet. Yoga can become a lifestyle. You can choose how much you want yoga to be part of your life by doing one or more aspects.
Yoga will bring awareness about your body and mind so you will be better able to give your body what it needs. From the basic survival as food, sleep and rest to more complex needs of love.
What is laughter yoga?
Laughter yoga is a laughing technique that applies some yoga breathing exercises. Laughter yoga was created in 1995 by Madan Kataria.
Laughter yoga consists of using gentle stretches, chanting, clapping, and body movement. A laughter yoga session is not focused on asanas or meditation, but on creating space for you to be present, to release the stress of your body and mind. You will break the inhibitions and connect to your inner child, to the playfulness in you.
A laughter yoga session is guided by a laughter yoga teacher who will direct you on what to do throughout the session. If you approach laughter yoga with an open mind and are ready to do the exercises regardless of how silly or useless you may think they are, you will be surprised that laughing as an exercise can help you to release stress and feel better.
Maybe one of the biggest challenges you will face when you do laughter yoga is yourself. Your mind will resist the idea of laughing for no reason, even more to the idea of forcing a laugh. But as you persist, you will see how much you can learn about yourself and overcome the resistance, judgement and criticism you have about yourself.
Laughter yoga is practised in groups; you are very likely to have to do eye contact with the other participants. You will see that soon after starting the laughing exercises; your fake laugh becomes a genuine laugh from the core of your being.
Is laughter yoga good for you?
Laughter is automatically associated with happiness. When you are happy, you smile, you feel fulfilled, and everything around you looks better. Laughter has been studied and proved to bring many benefits to your health. The most exciting thing about laughter is that your brain doesn’t differentiate between a laugh that is created at will to the spontaneous one.
Laughter yoga is practised in a group; this can help you to gain the confidence to be around with other people performing a laughing act.
Laughter yoga combines breathing exercises with laughter exercises that can oxygenate your brain and your whole body. When your body is well oxygenated, you have more energy and are healthier overall.
Physiologically the fake laugh and the real laugh have just the same benefits. So, practising laughing techniques like laughter yoga will benefit your well-being. You can learn to laugh without reason, without jokes or comedies. Laughter yoga can help your body to express emotions.
Scientifically laughter has been proved to lower the level of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
How to practice laughter yoga?
A laughter yoga session depends much on your laughter yoga leader. In general, a laughter yoga session contains the following:
Warm-up exercises that involve clapping for a few minutes rhythmically. During the clapping, sometimes can include chanting as well.
At the beginning of a laughter yoga class, you do some long deep breathing; long deep inhales, and extended deep exhales.
Chanting or singing is often used throughout the yoga session to help you release tension and open your diaphragm. You can do a vowel exercise which consists of saying each vowel and laugh. During the chanting, you can move your arms or your whole body.
Other laughing techniques in laughter yoga consist of producing clicking noises and laughing right after, also pretending to feel an electric shock or burn when you touch different surfaces and laugh right later.
You can release emotions or traumatic moments by saying those experiences and then laughing.
You can do a clapping exercise mixed with humming, turning louder and louder and becoming faster and wilder.
Benefits of laughter yoga
Laughter yoga has many benefits for your health. Studies have proved that laughing can reduce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Laughter increases other good hormones like dopamine, that fuels your motivation and drive in life.
Laugher enhances the release of the happy hormones that you may have heard of “endorphins”. These happy hormones act as a natural pain killer. Laughter yoga has the power to release emotional and physical stress. By reducing stress, your immune system will be more robust.
Physically laughter releases the tension in the body, particularly from the belly, this is particularly important because many suppressed emotions are stored in this area. Shoulders are also relaxed, so your posture improves, and you will have a feeling of openness. Your facial muscles will be more supple.
Laughter also reduces blood pressure; it can help people suffering some respiratory ailments like asthma and bronchitis by increasing the lung capacity and releasing the mucus.
Laughter yoga isn’t meditation, but it certainly provides you with a break from experiencing anger, stress, sadness, guilt or any other negative emotions, which in itself will make you feel better.
Laughter yoga can help you connect to others, laughing is contagious, it’s a sign of happiness. Being in a group of strangers that are laughing together will create a bond of camaraderie.
Laughter yoga will give you a big rush of stamina, it can help you bring a positive attitude to your life, you have to experience it, but you will feel more enthusiastic and optimistic after a laughing session.
Hopefully, now you have a better idea of what laughter yoga is and what you can expect from a yoga laughter session. Laughter yoga can be the right way for you to relax, de-stress, bring happiness to your life and connect to others in a group.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does laughter yoga work?
Laughter yoga is a fantastic way to laugh your heart out to relieve stress. Laughter yoga follows the principle that fake laugh is as good as a real laugh because the brain cannot distinguish the difference, so you get all the benefits of laughter. Laughter yoga is not the traditional asana type of yoga, but it also aims to enhance your well being and release emotional and physical blockages in your body.
Who created laughter yoga?
Madan Kataria developed laughter yoga in 1995.
What are the benefits of laughter yoga?
Laughter yoga can improve your health as laugh boosts your immune system. You will be happier with the release of endorphins. You will be more relaxed as your cortisol, adrenaline and your muscles relaxed through the laugh. After a laughter yoga session, you will feel more enthusiastic and optimistic.
How do you do laughter yoga alone?
The best way to do a laughter yoga alone is with youtube videos. There are hundreds of videos with fantastic laughter yoga instructors that you can watch and try to see if you like it. The best way is to check a few instructors to see who you like best.
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