Celebrated on the first Sunday of May every year, the World Laughter Day this year stands all the more special given the general environment of chaos and uncertainty all across the world. Needless to say, we can all use a little laughter and May 3rd would be providing us with the opportunity of doing just that. As we go about experiencing the power of community harmony while sitting confined in our houses, it wouldn’t really harm anyone to add in some positivity and have a hearty laughter session to bring in some positivity.
However, amidst all the pandemic scares, how many of us really feel upbeat enough for a random laughter session? Well, this is where Laughter Yoga comes to our rescue! Popularised by Indian doctor Madan Kataria, Laughter Yoga got recognition as a community practice after the doctor launched the first-ever laughter club in 1995 with just five members. Doctor Kataria then went on researching the benefits of laughter yoga, increasing his circle, and evolving it into a full-fledged exercise. Today, Laughter Yoga is a world recognised practice that is known to boost your energies besides a plethora of benefits associated with it. Want to know more about the practice? Read on:
Laughter Yoga refers to a set of innovative exercises that employ intentional laughter to enhance an individual's health and well-being. If you think about it (and this holds true), this is one of the most convenient ways of exercising for anyone and everyone. The underlying idea? To reap the benefits of laughter sans any outer stimuli to induce it. In a way, a very effective way of creating your own source of happiness, custom made if you may! Oh, but there’s more to it. The concept is actually based on the scientific knowledge that it is practically impossible for our bodies to distinguish between genuine and self-induced laughter. Therefore, feigning laughter delivers the same psychological and physical benefits that actual, humour or situation-induced laughter brings.
Unlike a lot of workout and yoga activities, Laughter Yoga happens to be more of a community practice than an individual one. In a typical laughter session, there is a teacher or an instructor who guides a group of people through a set of activities to break-free of their inhibitions and laugh freely. However, in case you are planning to do an impromptu Laughter Yoga session, then here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Warming Up
Start by stimulating your acupressure points through a hearty clapping session. Keep your palm fully open and try for a full hand to hand contact. To further elevate the energy levels, keep increasing the clapping speed. You can also move your hands up and down and sway them from side to side for full-body warm-up.
Step 2: Chant
While you are gearing up for the yoga session through the clapping activity, you can start by a simple and light chant that prepares you and your vocal cords for the laughter riot that is to come. Go for a normal HO, HO, HA-HA-HA. Now, as you level up and put in more energy, try to ensure that the chanting sounds are coming from the belly. This will stimulate the diaphragmatic breathing and help you with good, sonorous laughter later.
Step 3: Deep Breathing
Laughter yoga can be preceded by a session of breathing exercises so as to detoxify the lungs, prepare them for the activities to come and bring physical and mental relaxation simultaneously.
Step 4: Relax And Let Go
Assuming a childlike playful behaviour is the best was to ensure that you have a great laughter yoga session. All you have to do is, relax and let go of all your inhibitions. You can also try controlled activities like method acting for the same end.
Step 5: Laughter Time
Once you are all set with the warm and all prepared, it is time to go for a hearty laughter session. And while there is no right or wrong way to laugh, here are a few Laughter yoga exercises that you can try for optimum results:
Benefits of laughter yoga are many, which is why here we have got you a list of laughter yoga benefits that may encourage you to practice it right away!
Laughter Yoga benefits you elevate your mood within minutes by releasing endorphins or the happy hormones as they are referred to as by many. Thus a few minutes of laughter yoga daily can help you remain calm and upbeat throughout the day.
Laughter Yoga is the best treatment for those suffering with stress or depression. A good laughter is known to reduce the levels of stress hormones like epinephrine and cortisol significantly.
Think of Laughter Yoga as a cardio or aerobic exercise that helps give more oxygen to the body, brain and makes you feel energetic and relaxed. Additionally, just a few days of laughter exercises can do wonders to our heart health by reducing the blood pressure, therefore lowering the risk of heart attacks.
Laughter is a great exercise for those suffering with asthma and bronchitis. Not only does it improve the lung capacity but also helps by increasing the oxygen levels in blood. Laughter therapy is also known to increase the antibody levels in the mucous membranes of the respiratory passages, which effectively reduces the frequency of chest infections.
While it cannot be replaced with actual exercise, laughing can indeed burn a few calories, approximately 40 for a 15 session for that matter.
Laughter Yoga strengthens our immune system by reducing our stress. Just a week of laughter yoga will help you see the results and you’ll notice that you are not falling sick as easily and healing faster even if you do.
Since laughter yoga is more of a group activity than a solo exercise, it helps you foster a sense with the group that you practise it with. The positive energy generated by this community exercise actually helps people bond and improve relationships.
While it is easy to laugh when the times are good and everything’s going right, few can persevere and laugh through the bad times. Regular practice of Laughter yoga benefits one to deal with negative situations, create a healthier and more positive attitude, and thus, cope with difficult times better.
Lung power is what determines our overall stamina when it comes to sports. Having a good bout of laughter right before any competitive sports activity can actually work wonders by increasing your relaxation levels and thus pushing your performance.
Now that you know the amazing benefits of laughter yoga, let’s have a look at laughter yoga exercises that you can easily do at home.
The most basic of the laughing yoga exercises, this one requires you to spread your arms, point them to the sky while you simultaneously raise your chin and tilt back your head. Assume the position and then initiate a hearty laughter fit. Try to initiate your laughter directly from the heart. After every laughter bout, bring your hands down and then start the next one with taking them up again.
As the name suggests, for this laughter exercise you need to assume a lion-like stance. Here’s how you can achieve it: widen your eyes, thrust out the tongue, curl your hands like claws and laugh. Feel like you are as majestic as a lion when you try out this exercise.
So this exercise involves everything that you do while laughing on a day to day basis except the sound! To ace this one, you would have to keep your mouth wide open and laugh without making a sound. Look into other people's eyes and make funny gestures.
As the name suggests, this laughter yoga exercise is all about levelling up. To master this one, start with a warm smile. Also, like they say, fake it till you make it! Now, gradually shift to a gentle chuckle. It works naturally for a lot of people from here on. However, if it doesn't come to you naturally, all you need to do is work on the intensity of your chuckle until you've achieved a hearty laugh. You have to follow the gradient technique while bringing it down as well. From your laughter, make a shift to soft chuckle, and then let it fade into a content smile.
One of the most fun laughter exercises, swinging laughter requires a group of people to stand together in a circle. The members are required to stand at a distance of at least two metres while executing this one. Upon receiving a hint to initiate from the anchor person, the members are required to move forward (thus yielding a closer circle), make a prolonged and lingering Ae Ae- Aeeeee sound, raise your hands and then burst into laughter as everyone meets in the centre and wave their hands in synchrony. After every bout of laughter, the group members are required to move back to their original position. Also, as the group members move forward, they make a Oh- Oooooo and burst into laughter. The idea is to keep alternating between the two sounds.
A partner activity, heart-to-heart laughter exercise requires you to move close to a person, hold their hands and laugh. Practised to joy and harmony, this activity can involve well-intended hugging and stroking if both the partners are comfortable with it.
Lastly, aren’t we always told that happy people live the longest? Laughter Yoga is a great exercise in changing our attitude towards life and always choosing to be a happier, more positive person irrespective of the situation. Isn’t that something that all of us seek in the current chaos?
Q: Can everyone do laughter yoga exercises?
A: Yes, unlike some other forms of yoga, Laughter Yoga is safe to be practiced by everyone and brings good health to everyone. However, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor before initiating a new fitness regime, no matter how simple or basic it might appear.
Q: What does the word ‘yoga’ suggest in Laughter Yoga?
A: The word ‘Yoga’ literally translates to union and in Laughter Yoga refers to the union of laughter and breathing exercises.
Q: Do I need to do Laughter Yoga exercise even when I laugh all the time?
A: When you laugh naturally, it is not a sustained exercise and lasts only for a few seconds. However, laughter is not left to chance when it comes to laughter yoga and it is continuous.
Q: Will laughing too much give me wrinkles?
A: Unlike what you might think, laughter actually strengthens your facial muscles by stimulating them. Additionally, it just helps your body and skin absorb more oxygen which is a great way of keeping your skin healthy and the wrinkles at bay.
Q: Is Laughter Yoga safe for pregnant women?
A: You can safely practice Laughter Yoga through all stages of your pregnancy. However, since it is considered to be an aerobic exercise, it is advisable to consult your doctor before starting.
Featured Image: Instagram