Laughter yoga, what it is, and how does it work

Just a simple laugh can make your body healthy

Hasyayoga meaning Laughter yoga as the name suggests it is a free willing exercise that involves laughing, and nothing more. It is a modern exercise involving laughter, done over a prolonged period of time, which was popularized during the 1960s. It is said to have been popularized by family physician Madan Kataria who in a way modernized and simplified the way it was done earlier.

The important aspect of this Laughter yoga that one needs to understand is that this yoga is entirely based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides similar physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter. Performed without any humorous reason to start a laugh, the key is that the mind does not know that the human is faking it. This is the biggest lesson out of this yoga.

How Laughter yoga begins
Any laughter yoga session starts with a gentle warm-up technique which includes stretching, clapping, eye contact, and body movement, all of this is to help break down any inhibitions and to encourage a sense of playfulness. Starting with breathing exercises is done in order to prepare the lungs for laughter, followed by a series of ‘laughter exercises’ that combine the method of acting and visualization techniques with playfulness. Laughter exercises are interspersed with breathing exercises.

Begin the warm-up by clapping in a 1-2-3 rhythm, moving your hands up and down and swinging them from side to side as you clap, breathing from your belly with deep inhales and exhalations. Then do the lion laughter exercise, by sticking your tongue out fully and keeping your mouth open. Stretch both your hands out like the paws of a lion and roar – basically laughing from the belly, followed by practicing deep breathing along with the laughter.

Usually performed in groups maintaining eye contact and with much playfulness among the participants, the beauty of this exercise is that the intentional laughter more often than not turns into real and contagious laughter.

The various benefits of Laughter Yoga
By now you know that laughing provides immediate benefits, primarily being improved mood. That is because laughing releases endorphins and happy hormones like dopamine and serotonin, which automatically help in improving the mood.

Secondly, it is great in suppressing the stress-hormones like cortisol leading to a better mood, lower blood pressure, and stronger immune system.

Thirdly and most importantly, laughing with people increases social connectedness and bonding, which in turn leads to giving humans a sense of security and safety, allowing the person to feel relaxed.

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