Try A Healing Laughter Workout

By  27 Comments

I have heard that “laughter is the best medicine” since I was a little girl and read the jokes in my mother’s Readers Digest magazines. It’s funny how a slogan can become a truth in your mind. In this case it turns out to be true, especially when you realize that the ability to laugh can be developed as a skill, through laughter yoga, below.

Physical benefits of laughter.
I have read about cancer and stroke patients recovering more quickly when they watched funny movies. It makes intuitive sense, and studies bear it out.

Web MD presents a list of studies showing that laughter:

  1. Increases blood flow and oxygen throughout the body and protects the heart.
  2. Boosts production of the cells involved in immune response.
  3. Lowers blood sugar. (What a fun way to help control your diabetes.)
  4. Decreases pain sensations, relaxes the body and enhances sleep with the endorphin boost. (A “runners high” for non-runners?)

(LINK: http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/give-your-body-boost-with-laughter)

Social and emotional benefits of laughter:

  1. Positive energy – Who doesn’t love to laugh? Everyone loves the person with the huge smile and easy laugh who is “the life of the party,” and it turns out that people who laugh easily have more friends too (as unfair as that may seem to we who take life too seriously).
  2. Social lubricant – We all know how a bit of humor can defuse a tense situation, and that laughter is a universal language that can break through social barriers to promote greater forgiveness and understanding.
  3. Bonding – Of course laughing together also builds stronger bonds with our children, friends and lovers, and is a wonderful way to start the process of making up after a fight. Really, laughter is a skill worth learning if only for that.
  4. First aid for stress, anxiety and more – Did you know you can’t feel angry or afraid while you are laughing? Speaking as one who knows, the trick to that could be willingness to let go. And, when you have done these laughter workouts for a while, you have built-in automatic quick first aid when your emotions come flooding in uninvited.

Spiritual benefits of laughter:

  1. Reduce suffering – Buddhists say that “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional,” and the Buddha is often pictured as a jolly laughing soul. Cultivating a habit of laughter is a good way to deliberately reduce suffering, and now we understand why. Laughter releases endorphins, Mother Nature’s own painkillers.
  2. Promote forgiveness – Rev. Susan Starks, Senior Pastor of the Madison Avenue Baptist Church in NYC, wrote a book, “Laugh Your Way to Grace, Reclaiming the Spiritual Power of Humor,” which has sold over 15,000 copies and is available at Amazon.com. She says, “ Humor offers a revolutionary, yet simple, spiritual paradigm: If you can laugh at yourself, you can forgive yourself. And if you can forgive yourself, you can forgive others. And there is basically every world religious tradition in two sentences.” In addition to pastoring her church, Rev. Starks performs stand-up comedy with a Rabbi and an Imam in New York City.

“Laughter Yoga” takes the benefits up a level and makes it much easier too.
The thing is, just when I probably need laughter the most, I feel like laughing the least. If I am in physical or emotional pain, all I want to do is to curl up in a ball and be left alone.

There is now a solution. Dr. Madan Kataria developed something in 1995 he called “Laughter Yoga” and it has spread like wildfire around the globe! In 72 countries and counting, people are laughing together in public parks, on the beach, and in hospitals, fitness centers, senior centers and schools. In his TED talk, Dr. Kataria discusses the principles of Laughter Yoga and actually demonstrates a session with the audience.
(Link to his TED Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hf2umYCKr8)

The secret is, nothing has to be funny before you laugh.
Your body does NOT know the difference between deliberate laughter and spontaneous laughter. It does its healing magic either way. And since it takes at least 15 minutes of sustained laughter to reap the best benefits, very little in life is funny enough to keep you laughing for that long.

Laughter yoga uses diaphragmatic breathing, repetitive physical movement and FUN for a moderately aerobic workout. While it isn’t classical yoga, neither is it the comedy channel. You can find a laughter yoga group near you (and watch some other videos) on their website (LINK http://www.laughteryoga.org/english)

For those of you (us) at home, solitary laughter heals too.
While there is great benefit to social laughing, if you are stuck at home or there is no group near you, you can even do the laughter yoga workout at home, sitting in a chair, by yourself. You will find a teaching video here for a personal laughter yoga session. (LINK http://laughteryoga.org/english/gallery/videos/18)

In Summary, I think we are born to laugh.
Mother Nature has provided a natural physical, emotional and spiritual balm, available to everyone – for FREE – with no magic pills to swallow. We just have to be willing to use it.

I am intrigued with the way laughter yoga creates a laughter practice, which, like other practices, the body develops memory for. Now just a quiet solitary “ho, ho – ha ha ha” in the restroom at work will trigger those body memories and reduce our stress. Soon millions of people around the world will have a positive solution to conflict and disease, literally right at their fingertips.

Meanwhile, babies and children laugh naturally, all the time. We can too.

Try it, you may like it.

27 Comments

  1. Moki22

    I’d feel embarassed laughing without a reason, but I can see why it is healthy, some of these facts I didnt know!

  2. julie

    Seems like a nice idea.

    I guess when I laugh, I do feel much better.

    Thanks for the amazing article!

  3. Naima

    Interesting! I’m not sure how useful it is for regular exercise, but when I’ve had rousing laughter sessions I’ve felt tightening in my abs like when I do a marathon of crunches.

  4. Shan

    I’ve tried “laughter yoga” before. I’m not sure if I lost any weight but it was definitely a fun experience.

    • Norm

      Arclites like this are an example of quick, helpful answers.

  5. Samantha

    I’ve had those moments with my friends when you laugh for ten minutes straight and just can’t stop! You may be a little out of breath afterword but you feel great no doubt. People have always said that laughter was the best medicine. Laughter has always been human’s natural way of relief.

  6. Stephanie

    I find this very interesting. I love how something so simple can help greatly in terms of health!

  7. Alicia

    I have never heard of laughing yoga before! That sounds really interesting and is probably a lot of fun! I have suffered before from lots of anxiety depression and severe panic attacks. I learned in therapy that you can use funny movies as a coping skill to calm your emotional pain. Whenever I remember to use a funny movie to calm myself I end up laughing and it totally works! I am so glad that I learned to use humor and laughter to help myself feel better and it is absolutely wonderful for resolving tense situations.

  8. Andrea Robinson

    Great article! I love it!!

    :)

  9. Nikki

    This is something I’m really interested in learning more about. Laughing is obviously enjoyable, but I never associated it with actually being good for you. “Laughter is the best medicine” just seemed like a cliche to me but it seems to be so much more than that! I’m definitely going to look into laughter yoga, it seems fun, and if it’s healthy too then that’s a pretty great benefit!

  10. Alison

    “Laughter is the best medicine” was said by so many people with good reason. Positive thoughts = positive lives. I am trying this myself. I am doing my best to stay positive because I know the body works best when we stay happy in the mind and in the heart! Great article :)

  11. James

    Laughter is pleasant and fun and it immediately turns your mood around if you were sad. I remember that before I met my girlfriend I didn’t laugh that much, I was a bit too serious. Now I laugh every day at least 2-3 times and it shows. I am more relaxed, calm, happy and energized!

  12. Annie Marie Peters

    Excellent article! It’s hard to argue the benefits of laughter. It’s good for the body, mind, and soul. I’m very intrigued by the idea of laughter yoga. Thanks for the tip!

  13. Heather

    Never heard of “laughter yoga” before! Sounds intriguing! So glad I laugh at least once every day.

  14. Victoria

    I have recently been trying to do this kind of therapy while going through a very stressful period and I have to say in the most part it has worked. Definitely give this a go!

  15. Alexandra

    I never even imagined that there is such a thing as laughter yoga! This seems amazing to me and I can’t wait to actually find a group and try this for at least 15 minutes! I guess I could start doing this on my own or maybe my fiancé would like to join in on the fun… I’ll have to ask him, but I think he will love this!

    If you would have met me 7 years ago you would have said I was a very serious woman, but once I met my current fiancé, my whole world changed and I started becoming a much happier man. I laugh a lot more than I used to and I generally have a more positive look on life. Thanks for talking about this kind of yoga!

  16. Sandy Wellings

    I have heard of this before but never given it much thought. I know when me and a good friend get to laughing, like laughing so hard my stomach hurts and I cry, the next day I feel like I worked out. I can see that being something but I think it would talk a lot of day to day belly laughing for weight loss. Either way, laughter is very good medicine for the body, heart, and soul.

  17. Anastasia

    I think I first heard of the term “laughter is the best medicine” when I was in my early twenties.I don’t know why, but I grew up reading Readers Digest on my own.
    I was like age ten(I think) when I started reading Readers Digest. That magazine had a lot of good articles in it.In fact, it was this same magazine where I first read about the writer Stephen King. Next, I never heard about laughter yoga.
    Wow! It is totally amazing how laughter helps cancer and stroke patients recover quicker.This must also have something to do with the use of certain muscles in the body, like the face for example.
    Wow.Laughter helps to control diabetes! Cool! Furthermore, since laughter enhances sleep, I feel that it is great to watch a comedy before going to bed.It is better to go to bed happy instead of being angry with someone.

  18. Nora

    Laughter is so good for you! I have noticed that we laugh less now that we are exposed to funny things every day in places like facebook. I don’t remember the last time I had a good belly laugh. I might have to look into it a bit more.

  19. Christine

    I just read the article on webmd and I can’t believe that a psychologist (Steve Wilson) says that the effects of laughter and exercise are very similar! I mean, I believe him but it’s amazing to think that a session of laughter could equal a hard workout!

    And burning 50 calories after only 10+ minutes of laughing is just great and I want to do this as well. I also like the fact that being a generally fun person, who laughs a lot, also helps the immune system by creating antibodies that fight infection. I strongly believe this is true because I’ve seen people fight illnesses and they were almost always happy and thinking positive.

  20. Chantelle Clark

    I’ve always been a pretty serious person, not so much with regards to always being uptight, I just don’t laugh easily I guess. I don’t find a lot of things funny in life, but after meeting my current boyfriend, I do laugh easier and more often then I used to. I get sad very easily and often dwell too much on past experiences and tend to be negative, so I think doing laughing yoga would be very beneficial to me.

    I’m definitely going to look at this because if I can get a good work out from laughing and reap the benefits of it emotionally, then that would definitely contribute to my overall happiness.

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

    • Chynna

      It’s spooky how clever some ppl are. Thakns!

  21. Ginger

    I had never heard of laughter yoga before but am glad I found out. My adult daughter has been ill and is suffering from depression. This sounds like just the thing she needs to bounce back. What a great combination – yoga to build strength and flexibility, and laughter to lift your spirits. I’ll Google this and see where I can find a group. Should be a fun mother daughter activity.

  22. Efua

    I have always loved laughing and may sometimes seem to go overboard with it or laugh at inappropriate times but I’m glad I have the ability to do this as I can be very anxious and tense so it must be my body’s way of releasing my tension naturally. I often get tears with my laughter.

    The best feeling ever is when I’m having a bad day then someone or something comes along and I have to laugh and laugh.. such a release and a relief! Life would be so boring without laughter.

  23. Megan

    This is the best! I love to laugh…reminds me of the Mary Poppins scene where the laughter makes them float:) Interesting that you get the health benefit whether it’s real or fake!

  24. Davian

    We’ve arerivd at the end of the line and I have what I need!

    • Nermeen

      The type of physician I would like to work for is a Pediatrician. Pediatrician’s spicealty is to work with children. I have been working with children for a long time mainly because I work at a daycare facility. I’ve got to a point where I feel like I can handle anything that will come my way with them. It would also leave me feeling good at the end of the day to know that I have helped in some way to make a child feel better.The type of physician I would not care to work for is a Epidemiologist. Epidemiologist’s specialize in epidemics caused by infections agents and also work with sexually transmitted diseases. I feel if I were to work in this type of spicealty I would be putting my self at risk of exposure to these infectious agents. Also I would be focusing a lot of my time on trying to not get infected instead of having a steady mind on what I was actually supposed to be doing.

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