Laughter Yoga is a movement that was founded by Dr. Madan Kataria in 1995. He and his wife noticed that there was a similar breathing pattern between laughing and pranayama, and so Laughter Yoga was born. The yoga part of Laughter is the combination of Laughter Exercises with yoga breathing techniques.
A series of studies carried out by researchers showed the benefits related to laughing are:
Stimulated the immune system
Laughing reduces Kapha
When we laugh, our body releases endorphins - one of the happy hormones - and it’s flooded with a, sometimes, overwhelming feeling of weightlessness. Same as with Pranayama, you increase the oxygen in your body and brain, which makes you feel healthy and energetic. This directly combats the heavy and sluggish qualities of Kapha, as we diminish the negative effects of stress while simultaneously strengthening the immune system.
How to do it
Before you take part in this healing therapy, it’s important to let go of any preconceived notions you may have of what is funny and what isn’t, and to just laugh. You don’t necessarily need to be happy to do so, because while our mind may be fully aware of our mood, our body cannot tell the difference.
In fact, Dr. Madan Katari has shared that laughter has two sources, one from the body and one from the mind. As adults, we laugh from the mind as we put too much thought into...everything, really. Whereas with children, they tend to laugh from the body, and it is especially noticeable when they play.
So start to laugh, even if it’s a fake laugh, just do it. Your body won’t be able to tell the difference between a fake and a real laugh. There are many laughter exercises that can be used, but they can differ depending on the environment and cultures.
A few exercises you can try
- The applause exercise - Clap quietly and make humming sounds you’d make when approving of something. Gradually let the humming get louder until you are clapping and laughing faster and wilder. Try to go as loud as you possibly can!
- The embarrassment exercise - Think of an embarrassing moment and retell it aloud in a gibberish or babbling manner while laughing. Be sure to move your arms around or clap as you go along.
- The electric shock exercise - You pretend that everything you touch gives you a shock of static electricity. It can be anything like a chair or your leg. Every time you do it, physically jump back and laugh as you do so.
- A group hearty laugh exercise - Have a partner or group of friends join in. Sit in a circle, do a count down, and then everyone should start laughing at the same time, all while trying to match the tone and pitch to everyone else’s laughter. Remember to stretch your arms out, raise your chin skyward, and release a hearty laugh, as if coming straight from your heart.
No matter the exercise you choose, doing it on a daily basis will surely relieve tension, cultivate a positive feeling, and restore control within. This is your invitation to go greet your inner child and laugh without a care in the world, like there is no rhyme or reason to do so.