Ho ho - ha ha ha! That’s the anthem of laughter yoga --- a new type of yoga that’s sweeping the world. It was started 10 years ago by a medical doctor from India as a way to prescribe laughter for his patients. Now hundreds of thousands laugh daily and says it gives them a new positive outlook on life, cures depression and keeps them healthy.
Don’t be surprised to hear the Ho Ho sounds chanted in your neighborhood soon. Laughter yoga has spread to more than 50 countries in just ten years and this anthem is chanted by hundreds of thousands people every day.
It started just 10 years ago when Dr Madan Kataria, and Indian medical doctor from Mumbai, was studying scientific research into the benefits of laughter. The research clearly showed that laughter could help or cure many, if not most of today’s stress-related maladies: heart disease, depression, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, allergies, colds, flu’s, AIDS and more.
The problem was, how could he prescribe the laughter to his patients. You couldn’t go to the local chemist or clinic for a dose, he couldn't give laughter injections --- there were no reliable ways to make people laugh.
Kataria was determined to find a way to make the benefits of laughter widely available. After much study and experimentation laughter yoga was born. It does not use humor to generate laughter. Laughter is approached as a body exercise and participants perform a combination of yogic breathing and laughter exercises during the 20-30 minute sessions. The benefits of laughter come from the body, so it doesn’t matter whether the laughter is real or a physical exercise, it’s the physical act of hearty laughter that gives results.
And what results! Laughter is nature’s counter to stress, and hearty laughter has surprising positive results on our body. Stress increases blood pressure and heart rate, laughter reduces both and dilates blood vessels for better circulation. Stress shuts down our immune system and laughter turns it back on and boosts it in many important ways.
Stress messes with our mind, with side effects that include depression, feelings of intense fear, psychological distress, trembling, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain (or tightness), sweating, nausea, dizziness (or vertigo), hyperventilation, paresthesias (tingling sensations), vomiting, and sensations of choking or smothering.
Laughter releases hormones and chemicals that relax our body and leave us feeling happy with a positive mental attitude. They eliminate aches and pains, improve communication skills and motivation, increase creativity and enable us to face up to and cope with stressful situations.
Stress reduces our breathing and starves the body of oxygen, promoting the spread of illness. Laughter flushes our lungs and super-oxygenates our blood and major organs. leaving us bursting with energy and vitality and making it difficult for viral and bacterial infections and cancer to take hold.
According to Dr Kataria, the reason for the rapid spread of laughter yoga is that it gives instant results and can be enjoyed right away. There is no special clothing, there are no difficult techniques or postures to learn. Anyone can join a laughter yoga session and experience the results within 30 minutes.
The feeling of health and energy from laughter yoga is often compared to the ‘runner’s high'. It keeps people coming back to laugh again and again.
Don't be surprised to find laughter yoga in a park, yoga studio, fitness center school or workplace in your area soon.
Ho ho ha ha ha!