Laughter is generally understood as a response to humour or to ease our nerves. But there’s no need to wait for something funny to happen to reap all of the biopsychosocial benefits of a mirthful belly laugh. Unconditional laughter, in the form of Laughter Yoga or Laughercize, reframes laughter as an exercise and an easily accessible wellness tool. Through fun, creative, playful exercises and deep nourishing breaths, we can laugh for no reason and at any time.
How do we laugh when there really isn’t anything to laugh about?
It is challenging to give ourselves permission to laugh when times are tough. Yet we can be the light, the laughter, that breaks the stress, sadness, fear and builds joy, peace and confidence. Laughter work (in person and online) keeps us breathing deeply, connected and helps us improve our ability to cope and live a joyful life.
Here’s the key to remember:
Your body doesn’t differentiate between real or improvised laughter. You reap the same benefits no matter what makes you chuckle.
How’s it done?
Step 1: Reframe laughter as an exercise and wellness tool, not as a response to humour. Step 2: Remove the judges that sit perched on your shoulders. Feel free to laugh without judgement. Step 3: Breathe, laugh (using triggers and exercises), breathe, laugh, breathe…. Step 4: Notice how you feel!
The Benefits of Laughter
“Laughter is the new kid on the block, following a healthy diet, exercise and a good night’s sleep.”
– Dr. Lee Berk, Loma Linda University Research suggests that laughter has a multitude of physical benefits that include:
Improves lymphatic flow due to diaphragmatic contractions
Boosts immune system
Relaxes muscles and decreases pain
Supports cardio health and blood circulation
Enriches the blood with oxygen through deep breathing
Alleviates chronic stress
The psychosocial benefits are undeniable:“If negative emotions can produce negative chemical changes, wouldn’t positive ones produce positive changes? Isn’t it possible for love, hope, faith, laughter, confidence, the will to live, to have therapeutic value?”
– Norman Cousins, The Anatomy of an Illness (American political journalist, author, professor, and world peace advocate)
We all know how great we feel after a good belly laugh. When we laugh for no reason, especially when with others, here’s the magic that can happen:
Breaks down barriers to communication and emotions
Improves emotional intelligence and coping skills, especially when practiced over time
Supports team building
Personal note: Laughter makes sense. We all know how to do it. It is our universal language. Now more than ever, it is being used to spread joy and positive energy, and to simply give ourselves a break and feel better in body and mind. The ripple effect of group laughter has the power to permeate our communities and beyond.
The deeper I delve into my laughter practice, the more certain I become of this message.
What is Laughter Yoga?
Laughter Yoga is a unique, simple and fun exercise concept designed to make you laugh heartily and to your heart’s content. It is effective both in person and online. When practiced in a group setting, improvised laughter quickly turns genuine, contagious. By allowing ourselves to be less serious and play, we discover (or rediscover) our smile, our breath, and our joyful selves.
Laughter Yoga was introduced in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria in a park in Mumbai, India. His vision to increase health and happiness with his patients inspired him to create a laughter club. Today, this powerful health and wellness regime is practiced worldwide in schools, the corporate world, hospitals, seniors’ residences, and yoga, fitness and community centres, to name a few.
Personal note: “When you laugh you change, and when you change, the whole world change.” – Dr. Madan Kataria, Founder, Laughter Yoga Movement
This offshoot of Laughter Yoga was created by Laughologist Albert Nerenberg while working on his documentary Laughology in 2009. Highly improvisational, Laughercize focuses on trigger laughter and connecting exercises like stare-downs, laugh-offs, limbic locks and the highly physical and hilarious laughter competition.
Albert says: “I don’t care why you’re laughing, as long as you’re laughing!”
Laughter FIT is the place to reconnect with your laughter!