“To Our Health…”
Laughter Yoga helps people to stay fit, releases stress and benefits both those that are healthy and aiming to stay so, and those that are dealing with challenging illnesses or other stresses in their lives. Laughter Yoga also strengthens our immune systems and provides a powerful cardiovascular workout: Just 10 minutes of hearty laughter is equal to 30 minutes on the rowing machine. It increases blood circulation and relaxes the muscles, and is a powerful antidote for depression. Prolonged laughter also reduces blood pressure, reduces symptoms of allergies, asthma, arthritis and helps patients with chronic illnesses like cancer to cope and to heal. Laughter Yoga is a single exercise routine which reduces physical, mental and emotional stress simultaneously and brings an emotional balance and feeling of joy. People usually feel the benefits from the very first session.
“Hearty group laughter has profound short and long-term effects on our mind and body.” (Dr. Madan Kataria)
Prolonged laughter unwinds the negative effects of stress by reducing stress-related hormones and peptide levels in the body, and reduces the most infamous stress hormone – cortisol. Stress can be triggered by increase in the levels of carbon dioxide in the blood because of shallow and fast breathing. Deep and diaphragmatic breathing activates the parasympathetic branch of autonomic nervous system, which is the opposite of stress arousal system called the sympathetic system. And stress is a major factor contributing to many of today’s most common illnesses.
FEEL GOOD HORMONES
The practice of Laughter Yoga releases endorphins, a self-manufactured natural opiate that has been scientifically shown to carry messages of attachment and bonding, and are the same wonderful neurotransmitters runners experience when they enjoy a “runners high.” In addition, it acts as a natural painkiller, so people suffering from chronic pain often find deep benefit in the practice. Endorphins also create a positive state of mind and boost optimism, self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.
Prolonged laughter has been proven to quickly boost our immune system, and stimulates increases in levels of anti-viral, cancer-fighting and anti-infection cells. Laughter increases the levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA) in the body, which is our first line of defense protecting us against viral infections such as coughs and colds. Lee S. Berk PhD (Clinical Research 1989) found that laughter may attenuate some stress-related hormones and modify Natural Killer Cell activity. (NK cells protect us from cancer), resulting in immunomodulation. Labott supports Berk’s findings (Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 1990) and concludes that laughter results in improved immunity. In a study at Canada’s University of Waterloo (Well Being Journal), it was well documented that laughter increases the levels of immunoglobulin IgA and IgG. Norman Cousins (Prevention March 1988) also states that laughter serves as a blocking agent against disease.
“Oxygen plays a pivotal role in the proper functioning of the immune system. We can lookat oxygen deficiency as the single greatest cause of all diseases.” – Stephen Levine, Molecular Biologist and Geneticist, and Dr. Paris M. Kidd, Ph.D., Antioxidant Adaptation.
OXYGEN & AEROBIC EXERCISE
Laughter Yoga also provides an excellent cardio and mid-body workout. Dr. W. Fry states that laughter is a great aerobic exercise, and says that one minute of hearty laughter is equal to 10 minutes of jogging. Lloyd (Journal of GeneralPsychology, 1938) showed that laughter is a combination of deep inhalation and full exhalation, inspiring excellent ventilation, wonderful rest and profound release.
Deep laughter causes an ‘internal jogging’ that massages and promotes circulation to the digestive and lymphatic systems. It increases circulation to flush the body and organs of waste products leaving us ready to operate at peak performance. “Deep diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the cleansing of the lymph system by creating a vacuum effect which pulls the lymph through the bloodstream. This increases the rate of toxic elimination by as much as 15 times the normal rate.” (Dr. J.W. Shields, MD, Lymph, Lymph Glands, and Homeostasis. Lymphology, v25, n4,Dec. 1992, p. 147).
In children social play is critical to the development of social skills and emotional intelligence. Restricted play results in deficient social skills which can lead to life-long mental, emotional, physical and social problems. Laughter promotes childlike playful behavior and social connection. New research shows that playful adults continue to learn social skills and improve their emotional intelligence as they continue to incorporate play into their lives. Individuals and businesses have also found a powerful connection between adult play and increased innovation and creativity. Have a look at our Laughter Yoga in the Workplace section to get your teams energized and their creative juices flowing.
CATHARSIS & RELEASE
Laughter (which comes from the very same place in the brain as tears) often dislodges blocked emotions stored in the body in a safe and helpful way. Suppressed or blocked emotions can cause ongoing physical, mental and emotional problems. Their release can be life changing in some, and just a very welcome release in others. Whether one is suffering from pent up frustration, sadness, anger, stress, depression or other pent up emotions, laughter provides an excellent non-violent method for emotional release and catharsis, and allows for the one suffering to move forward with a greater sense of strength, peace and balance.
IMPROVED SOCIAL CONNECTION
“Mirror neurons” in the brain cause us to experience the emotions of people we communicate with. Being with laughing people, we experience their laughter which makes it easier for us to laugh. Each time we establish eye contact with people who are laughing, our mirror neurons add their laughter experience to our own. This additive effect increases the concentration of laughter-related hormones and neuropeptides in our bloodstream and further reduces the effects of stress. Research has shown that the number of social interactions a person has each day is a direct indicator of his health, wellness and longevity. Laughter Yoga provides regular caring social interactions, which is shown to be the among the top three primary sources of happiness around the world. (Laughter Yoga International)
⇨ Laughter Yoga on the Discovery Channel
⇨ To read more interesting articles on the scientific benefits of laughter, hop on over here!
“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” -Charles Dickens