Laughter Yoga: Smiling Heals

What is Laughter Yoga?

Laughter yoga has been practiced in India since the mid-1990s. This practice involves using laughter as a form of exercise, and the basic premise is that your body can and does laugh, no matter what your mind says.

Laughter yoga practitioners do not need to have a great sense of humor or know jokes, nor do they even need to feel happy. All that is required is to laugh for no reason, to laugh for the sake of laughing, to imitate laughter until it becomes sincere and real.

Laughter is an easy way to strengthen all immune functions, give more oxygen to the body and brain, develop positive feelings, and improve interpersonal skills.

Laughter and yoga: the main thing is breathing

You probably already have a question about what the connection between laughter and yoga can be and whether it exists at all.

Yes, there is a connection, and this is breathing. In addition to the exercises that involve laughter, the practice of laughter yoga also includes breathing exercises as a way to relax the body and mind.

Yoga teaches that the mind and body mirror each other and that the breath is their link. By deepening your breathing, you calm the body – the pulse rate slows down, the blood is filled with fresh oxygen. And by calming your body, you also calm your mind, because it is simply impossible to be physically relaxed and mentally stressed at the same time.

When your body and mind are relaxed, you become aware of the present. The ability to live to the fullest, to live in the present moment is very important. This allows us to experience genuine happiness, because being in the present frees us from the regrets of the past and the worries of the future and allows us to simply enjoy life.

History in brief

In March 1995, Indian physician Madan Kataria decided to write an article entitled “Laughter is the best medicine.” Especially for this purpose, he conducted a study, the results of which greatly surprised him. It turns out that decades of scientific research has already established that laughter does indeed have a positive effect on health and can be used as a form of preventive and therapeutic medicine.

Kataria was particularly impressed by the story of American journalist Norman Cousins, who was diagnosed with a degenerative disease in 1964. Even though Cousins ​​was predicted to live for a maximum of 6 months, he managed to make a full recovery using laughter as his main form of therapy.

Being a man of action, Dr. Kataria decided to test everything in practice. He opened the “Laughter Club”, the format of which assumed that the participants would take turns telling jokes and anecdotes. The club started with just four members, but after a few days the number was over fifty.

However, within a few days the supply of good jokes was exhausted, and the participants were no longer so interested in coming to club meetings. They did not want to listen, let alone tell stale or vulgar jokes.

Instead of aborting the experiment, Dr. Kataria decided to try and stop the jokes. He observed that laughter was contagious: when a joke or anecdote being told wasn’t funny, one laughing person was usually enough to make the whole group laugh. So Kataria tried experimenting with the practice of laughter for no reason, and it worked. The playful behavior naturally passed on from participant to participant, and they would come up with their own laughter exercises: imitate a normal everyday movement (such as shaking hands) and just laugh together.

Madan Kataria’s wife, Madhuri Kataria, a hatha yoga practitioner, suggested incorporating breathing exercises into the practice to combine yoga and laughter.

After some time, journalists heard about these unusual gatherings of people and wrote an article in the local newspaper. Inspired by this story and the results of this practice, people began to come to Dr. Kataria for advice on how to open their own “Laugh Clubs”. This is how this form of yoga spread.

Laughter yoga has generated a great deal of interest in laughter therapy and has given rise to other laughter-based therapeutic practices that combine ancient wisdom with the insights of modern science.

Laughter remains an under-researched phenomenon to this day, and it’s safe to say that as the months and years go by, we’ll learn even more about how to use its healing power in our daily lives. In the meantime, try to laugh just like that, from the heart, laugh at your fears and troubles, and you will notice how your well-being and outlook on life will change!

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