Laughter Yoga is a practice that was created by Dr. Madan Kataria, following studies of laughter and the benefits, including those of Norman Cousins. Dr. Kataria realized that laughing is really good and you can also trigger laughter by freeing yourself from humor and jokes. Thus was born the idea of Laughter Yoga, a group practice in which laughter is stimulated on a physical level through real physical laughter exercises.
It begins with a warm-up that exploits eye contact (which triggers mirror neurons that enable the motor areas of laughter to be activated) facilitating a contagious effect that occurs if someone in the group begins laughing. Initial laughs are encouraged by group clapping and various other "acts of joy". This playfulness is a way to reconnect with our inner child, to be active and have fun. To be seen. And soon enough the initial self induced laughter turns into spontaneous and authentic laughs.
Why does Laughter Yoga work?
The practice is based on the scientific studies of Paul Ekman, which testify that our body does not distinguish the difference between spontaneous laughter and self-induced laughter. They both send the same signal to the brain and in particular, the amygdala (the oldest part of our brain, trained to recognize what is familiar and therefore safe and what is not know and potentially dangerous). Through neuronal impulses linked to our muscles, we activate a very intense biochemical production from laughter, sometimes referred to as a "joy cocktail". Endorphins (natural painkillers and the chemical that produces joy & euphoria), serotonin (natural antidepressants) and the lowering of cortisol (stress hormone). This can be achieved with 10-15 minutes of continuous laughter, which is a goal of most Laughter Yoga sessions, commonly referred to as laughter meditation.
Being happier with Laughter Yoga and other benefits.
Laughter Yoga is considered a form of natural antidepressant because it helps in cases of anxiety and allows us to activate feelings of happiness. On an emotional level, Laughter Yoga helps to develop emotional intelligence, our ability to correctly express our emotions, to manage them, and the understand the emotions of others.
Socially, Laughter Yoga improves the connections between people because it is out deepest part that laughs with each out and cooperation and communication are improved, making us more united, supportive, and prove to feelings of empathy and sharing.
Mentally, laughing is good for our health and breaks the cycle of psychological negativity. Also it helps us to process and handle negative thoughts and cous on the positive. Thanks to affirmations and repetitions of positive phrases, such as "Everything will be fine".
Spiritually, Laughter Yoga is powerful as it activates the inner spirit of laughter, an inclination to feel from the heart, to feel others as our neighbor, and to practice appreciations, gratitude, kindness, generosity, and forgiveness.
Unconditional laughter is not mocking or laughing at others but laughing together with others from a place of joy and happiness. This is a fundamental concept to Laughter Yoga which helps to underline the profound sense of union that is created by laughing together, without external stimulus but by choice.
Another great benefit of Laughter Yoga is the ability to laugh in difficult moments. Because Laughter Yoga utilized laughing as method to choose happiness and does not require external stimulation, laughter can help get through difficult times and act as a tool in managing emotions.
"We don't laugh because we're happy, we're happy because we laugh" ~ William James