Laughter Yoga Salon NYC with Francine Shore
 

Laughter Yoga Exercises

 


Laughter is a Stress Buster


Laughter is one of the finest and easiest to practice anti-stress measures. Laughter is one of the best muscle relaxants. Laughter expands blood vessels and sends more blood to the extremities and other muscles all over the body. A good bout of laughter also reduces the levels of stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol. It can be said to be a form of dynamic meditation or relaxation. To mediate, one has to detach oneself from the emotions, mental thoughts and physical sensations so as to prevent distractions. On the other hand, while laughing, we do not have any conscious thought process and all our senses naturally and effortlessly combine harmoniously, to give joy, peace and relaxation. In other types of meditation you need to concentrate a lot to take your mind away from distracting thoughts, which is easier said than done. Therefore, laughter is, if I may say so, the easiest form of meditation and one, which brings you instant relaxation.


Laughter Strengthens the Immune System


The immune system plays a most important role in maintaining good health and keeping away infections, allergies and cancers. It has been proved by psychoneuroimmunologists that all negative emotions like anxiety, depression or anger weaken the immune system of the body, thereby reducing its fighting capacity against infections. According to Dr. Lee S. Berk from Loma Linda University, California, USA, laughter helps to increase the count of natural killer cells (NK cells - a type of white cell) and also raises the antibody levels. Researchers have found that after laughter therapy there is an increase in antibodies (Immunoglobulin A) in the mucous on of the nose and respiratory passages, which is believed to have a protective capacity against some viruses, bacteria and other micro organisms. There are many members of Laughter Clubs who have noticed reduced incidences of common colds, sore throats and chest infections have decreased. The effect of laughter on the immune system is considered to be very significant with regard to deadly diseases like AIDS and cancer.


Laughter is the Best Aerobic Exercise


The singular benefit almost everybody derives is a sense of well-being. After 15 minutes of laughter in the morning, they feel fresh throughout the day. No other medicine gives you such an instant result. The reason for the sense of well-being is that you inhale more oxygen while laughing. Laughter can be compared to any aerobic exercises. You don't need to sweat hard on the jogging tracks. According to Dr. William Fry from Standford University, one minute of laughter is equal to 10 minutes on the rowing machine. In other words, laughter stimulates heart and blood circulation and is equivalent to any other standard aerobic exercise. Laughter exercise is suited for sedentary people and those who are confined to a bed or a wheelchair.


Laughter in Depression, Anxiety and Psychosomatic disorders


The stress and strain of modern life take a heavy toll of the human mind and body. Mind-related diseases like anxiety, depression, nervous breakdowns and sleeplessness are on the rise. Laughter has benefited many people who were administered heavy anti-depressant pills and tranquillizers. Now these patients get better sleep and their depression has reduced. Even people with suicidal tendencies start living with more hope.


Laughter in High Blood Pressure and Heart disease


Heredity, obesity, smoking and excessive intakes of saturated fats are among the many causes for blood pressure and heart disease. But by far, stress is one of the major factors. Laughter definitely helps to control blood pressure by reducing the release of stress-related hormones and bringing relaxation. Experiments have demonstrated that a 10-minute laughter session leads to a reduction of 10-20 mm in blood pressure. This however does not mean that are patients taking 2-3 tablets for blood pressure everyday will be completely cured. It might however reduce the dosage requirements or an elimination of medication in borderline high blood pressure patients. It takes years to develop high blood pressure. It cannot be reversed in a few days or a month. But definitely laughter will help control and arrest further progress of the disease. Similarly, if you are at high risk of developing heart disease, laughter could be the best preventive medicine. Those who are suffering from heart disease and have stabilized on medication will find that laughter improves the blood circulation and oxygen supply to the heart muscles. Due to improvement of blood circulation there are reduced possibilities of clot formation. Those who have had heart attacks or have undergone bypass surgery can also participate in laughter therapy.


Laughter is a Natural Pain Killer


Laughter increases the levels of endorphins –our body’s natural pain killers. Norman Cousins, an American journalist who was suffering from an incurable disease of the spine, benefited from laughter therapy in a situation when all painkillers were ineffective. Endorphins released as a result of laughter may help in reducing the intensity of pain in those suffering from arthritis, spondylitis and muscular spasms of the body. Many women have reported a reduced frequency of migraine headaches.


Laughter Alleviates Bronchitis and Asthma


Laughter is one of the best exercises for those suffering from asthma and bronchitis. It improves the lung capacity and oxygen levels in the blood. Doctors recommend chest physiotherapy to remove mucous (phlegm) from the respiratory passages. Blowing forcefully into an instrument and blowing balloons is one of the common exercises given to asthmatics. Laughter does the same job, more easily and at no cost. Many individuals suffering from asthma and bronchitis who are members of Laughter Clubs. They have reported a marked reduction in the frequency of asthma attacks. Laughter therapy may cause some discomfort if you have severe bronchospasm. There are a small percentage of asthma cases who may get a little aggravation by doing any exercise (exercise induced asthma). Such individuals should consult their doctors before taking up laughter therapy. One of the most common causes for frequent attacks of asthma is infection. Laughter Therapy increases the antibody levels in the mucous membranes of the respiratory passages, thereby reducing the frequency of chest infections. It also tones up the normal mucous clearing system of the bronchial tubes. Stress is another factor, which can bring on an attack of asthma. By reducing stress, laughter can improve the prognosis of the disease.


Laughter Improves Stamina in Athletes


Since breathing capacity is one of the factors which determines stamina in sports, laughter before any competitive sports activity will increase the relaxation levels and hence, performance. Laughter can be beneficially introduced as a regular exercise in any kind of sports activity.


Laughter is Internal Jogging


There are plenty of exercises available for your muscles, but laughing provides a good massage to all internal organs. It enhances their blood supply and increases their efficiency. It has been compared to magic fingers, which reach into the interior of the abdomen and massage your organs. The best massage it gives is to the intestines. It improves the blood supply and helps proper bowel movement.


Laughter is Good for Actors and Singers


Laughter Therapy is very beneficial for singers and actors. Increased lung capacity and exercise of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles will enable better control over speech. Another benefit would be enhanced self-confidence and reduced stage fright due to an increase in the body’s relaxation level, which results from laughter.


Laughter Makes You Look Younger


People exercise all muscles of the body, but there is no regular exercise designed for facial muscles except in Yoga. Laughter is an excellent exercise for your facial muscles. It tones up the muscles of the face and improves facial expressions. When you laugh, your face becomes red due to an increase in blood supply, which nourishes the facial skin and makes it glow. Laughing makes people look more cheerful and attractive. By squeezing the tear glands through laughter, the eyes are automatically moisturized and this adds a little sparkle to them. Laughter exercises the abdominal muscles and helps to improve muscle tone of those with potbellies.


Laughter helps Interpersonal Relationships


Laughter brings people together and improves interpersonal relationships. All the members of a Laughter Club meet each other with open minds and they care for each other. You will get a chance to interact with a number of people with a positive frame of mind. Today, members of different Laughter Clubs are like family members. They know each other well; they share their griefs and sorrows. They share their joyful moments too, by meeting each other, going out for picnics etc. They organize health workshops, yoga camps and naturopathy seminars from time to time. People from various walks of life come together and greet each other with smiling faces.


Self Confidence Through Laughter


When you are laughing in a group at a public place with your arms up towards the sky, it your inhibitions disappear and over a period of time you become a more sociable, unreserved and outgoing person. Admittedly, some people are initially a bit reluctant to join the laughter group, for fear of appearing absurd to onlookers. However, this is a passing phase and the very decision to join a Laughter Club opens your mind. Gradually, it also adds to your self-confidence. It also helps in developing personality and leadership qualities.


Social Benefits of Laughter


Ongoing research shows that people suffering from depression are more prone to many illnesses like high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. Depression also affects the immune system adversely. Common causes of depression are social isolation and a diminishing family value system. These are much more in western countries but are now slowly affecting the east also. Laughter Clubs have helped many people to get rid of their antidepressant pills in a short period of time. The magic, which has worked wonders, is the friendship and brotherhood gained from Laughter Clubs. Laughter Clubs are fast developing into close-knit communities. With the spread of Laughter Clubs in every locality, each club has taken the shape of a small community, wherein its members experience a sense of affiliation and belonging to the group. Laughter Clubs are turning into large "Laughing Families".


 

Information on laughter yoga,health benefits and Dr. Madan Kataria are reproduced with permission from  Dr. Madan Kataria.


For more information on laughter yoga, please visit  www.laughteryoga.org

Benefits


It is more than ten years now, since the first ‘Laughter Club’ was set up. There is a growing demand for opening such clubs at many more places in India and abroad. Almost everyday more and more people are joining Laughter Clubs and are reaping the benefits. One of the reasons for this phenomenon is that laughter puts the members in a positive frame of mind and gradually makes them positive thinkers. People suffering from a variety of stress-related diseases have benefited in some way or the other. But we don’t claim that long-standing ailments have been cured by laughter therapy. Laughter is more of a supplementary and preventive therapy.

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