Laughter yoga: What it is and how it works – Times of India

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Practising yoga regularly has countless health benefits. While there are many forms of yoga and types of asanas, there is also a branch of yoga called laughter yoga or laughing yoga. You might have even seen elderlies practising this form of yoga in groups.

But what exactly is laughter yoga? Is it just about laughing when you do your yoga practice or something more? Let’s discover.

What is laughing yoga?


Laughing yoga is a popular movement and breathing exercise, which aims to bring out your inner child, cultivate joy and help you get rid of daily stressors.

Laughter is contagious and thus it’s no surprise that laughing yoga started from a small group in Mumbai and now is famous all over India. The advocates of the practice claim that it relieves stress and reduces your risk of chronic diseases.

Why should you practise laughing yoga


Laughing yoga involves a series of movements and breathing exercises that promote deliberate laughter. The laughing therapy has been used for decades, laughing yoga was discovered by Dr Madan Kataria from Mumbai in the year 1995.

Dr Kataria claims that laughing yoga helps to lift your mood, strengthens your immune system, reduces stress, increases energy levels and improves your quality of life.

Laughter yoga also allows the greater intake of oxygen, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system (your body’s natural relaxation system).

Laughter yoga was designed to teach people how to laugh on cue rather than relying on people or things to bring them joy. As people are becoming busier in their lives, activities that promote laughter have taken a backseat.

How to do it?


Laughing yoga is practised in a group setting led by a trained laughing yoga instructor, who coaches people through various exercises to promote laughter and enjoyment.

Most of the laughing yoga sessions begin with simple breathing technique, clapping and chanting that can help people relax. For example, you may begin the class by clapping rhythmically 1-2, 1-2-3 whole chanting “ho-ho, ha-ha-ha”.

The session may also include exercises like positive affirmations, gentle stretching, yoga breathwork and meditation. All this helps you laugh, let loose and forget the worries of the real world temporarily.

How does it help?


Laughing can provide you with immediate benefits like improved mood. It releases endorphins and other happy hormones like dopamine and serotonin.

Not just this, it also suppresses stress hormones like cortisol. All this is linked to a better mood, reduced pain, lower blood pressure, stronger immune system and a lower rate of depression.

Laughing also increases social connectedness and bonding. It is linked with a feeling of security and safety, making one feel more relaxed.

Most studies believe that your body cannot distinguish between fake and real laughter, which means your body can benefit by simply forcing yourself to laugh.

Verdict


While more research is needed to clearly know the health benefits of laughing yoga, there is no harm in trying it.



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