Laughter Yoga is a unique concept, in which anyone can laugh for no reason, without the use of humor, jokes or comedy. We initiate laughter as an exercise in a group and with childlike playfulness and eye contact it soon turns into free flowing contagious laughter. We intersperse the bouts of laughter with yogic breaths and rhythmic clapping. This brings more oxygen and endorphins to the body and the brain which makes us feel more energetic, healthy and vibrant. This is based on the scientific fact that the body responds favorably to laughter no matter how it gets started!
In Laughter Yoga we use laughter as a form of exercise, to train the muscles of the diaphragm to engage in the process of deep breathing, through the use of hearty laughter. The increased oxygen and endorphins flowing to the brain and throughout the body, sends 'calming chemicals' through the nervous system, turning off the 'Fight or Flight' response, thereby reducing stress. In Laughter Yoga we are training our minds and bodies to laugh at will, while building up muscle memory. Our brain develops new neuro-connections that produce 'Happy' chemistry in the body. These reactions can be triggered simply by laughter exercises, which lead the mind to experience the emotion of Joy! Over time, members of laughter clubs become conditioned to be more joyful throughout the day simply by having the bodily experience of doing Laughter Yoga.
What's A Typical Session Like, You Ask??
A session of Laughter Yoga usually lasts an hour with the hearty belly laughter lasting about 20 minutes.
The Laughter leader makes suggestions for different laughter, breathing and stretching exercises.
There are four steps in Laughter Yoga:
~ Rhythmic Clapping
~ Yogic Breathing
~ Childlike Playfulness
~ Laughter Exercises
It starts with warm up exercises to get the laughter muscles in the belly activated, followed by various
imagination-based laughter exercises which help people to laugh openly, loudly and heartily from the belly in a socially accepting, safe place to do so. We intersperse these silly scenarios of childlike playfulness that induce the laughter with rhythmic clapping and yogic breathing. And along with the clapping we chant Ho! Ho! Ha! Ha! Ha! or Very Good! Very Good! Yay! or even perhaps Hip! Hip! Hooray!!
How Did This Wacky Idea Ever Get Started?!
The year is 1995. The setting; a Mumbai park in the early hours of the morning. Laughter Yoga began the moment a medical doctor took "Laughter is the best medicine" seriously. Dr Madan Kataria, along with his wife Madhuri Kataria, a Yoga teacher, and 5 of their friends showed up that day. Now there are over 7,000 Laughter Yoga Clubs in over 75 countries, with 500 of them in the USA.
Supporting Evidence that Laughter makes better Brains:
In the book A Better Brain At Any Age, by Sondra Kornblatt, there's a list of ... "tips, tricks and techniques to help your brain learn and remember:" One of the items in the list is "join a laughing group, listen to comedy records, see a comedy film." It goes on to say about these activities: " ... they've proven effective in strengthening memory, increasing creativity, and enhancing overall mental agility." So let's have the never-ending last laugh together, as soon as possible!!
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