Laughter Yoga combines laughter with yogic breathing exercises to provide 45-minute workout sessions that include 30 minutes of laughter. It is the fastest growing health and fitness system in the world. It is also known as ‘instant yoga’ as it provides results in days that can take years to achieve in posture yoga. It has been featured in a Time Magazine cover story, on CNN and other world media including National Geographic, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, BBC, NHK Japan, Star TV, ABC News, Channel 9 Australia and many more.
Children laugh 300-400 times a day during their important formative years, but adult laughter has reduced this to just 10-15 times a day. Laughter is one of our best defenses against stress, and it is important that we find ways to laugh more to cope with stress and remain healthy in the modern world. Laughter Yoga is a perfect way to laugh and get exercise at the same time. It approaches laughter as a body exercise so it’s easy to laugh even if you’re depressed or in a bad mood.
Laughter Yoga is offered for free in more than 10,000 social laughter clubs around the world. It is also being offered commercially in yoga and fitness centers, aged care facilities, schools, hospitals, as well as business and government offices.
At the clubs they gather together in groups to laugh for no reason; no jokes, no comedy, no humour. The result is a disconnection from needing something ‘out there’ to laugh at; instead, they learn to internalise their ability to laugh so it is available whenever they need it. Laughter Yoga engages in simple, playful exercises, making eye contact. If you are willing to at least pretend to laugh you will find the group’s laughter becoming contagious and quite soon, perfectly real.
The laughter exercises are interspersed with deep breathing (this is the Yoga bit) where we get rid of the stale air in the bottom of our lungs and breath in lots of fresh oxygen. Not only does this make us feel energized in mind and body; as Dr Otto Warburg (winner of the Nobel Prize for medicine) said, “Deep breathing techniques increase oxygen to the cells and are the most important factors in living a disease-free and energetic life. When cells get enough oxygen, cancer will not and can not occur.”
Medical research has found that our bodies cannot tell the difference between real and willingly simulated laughter. We get the same health benefits as if the laughter was real. What is important is to laugh energetically (belly-laugh) for about 20 to 30 minutes at a time. This is why they have the Laughter Clubs, as natural laughter comes for only a few seconds here and there, so is not enough to bring about physiological and biochemical changes in our bodies.
When you learn to make your laughter from inside, rather than being dependent on events outside, you find that you are becoming more cheerful. Indeed you become a nicer person, less likely to get stressed or depressed, more fun to be around. You can laugh at things that once were stressful or unpleasant. This is where they get their goal of ‘world peace through laughter’.
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