Laughter Yoga

Is laughter really the best medicine? Recent research by the University Of Maryland Medical Center shows that laughter really is beneficial.

“The endothelium has a powerful effect on blood vessel tone and regulates blood flow, adjusts coagulation and blood thickening, and secretes chemicals and other substances in response to wounds, infections or irritation. It also plays an important role in the development of cardiovascular disease. ‘”The endothelium is the first line in the development of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteriesâÂ?¦it is conceivable that laughing may be important to maintain a healthy endothelium, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease,”‘ says principal investigator Michael Miller, M.D., director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. ‘”At the very least, laughter offsets the impact of mental stress, which is harmful to the endothelium”‘ (http://www.umm.edu/news/releases/laughter2.html).

In an article, Yoga Works!, by Elaine Lipson at YogaJournal.com, Lipson points out the vast research on yoga, proving the benefits of this ancient practice. According to these studies yoga can help manage such things as: anxiety, arthritis, stress, depression, asthma, back pain, blood pressure, headaches, heart disease diabetes and other conditions and diseases as well (http://www.yogajournal.com/health/115_1.cfm).

Laughter and Yoga Meet
With so many benefits involved in the practice of yoga and laughter, wouldn’t it make sense to combine the two? Madan Kataria, a Bombay, India-based physician thought so and combined them. He, with the help of his wife Madhuri (a yoga teacher) created a form of laughter therapy known today as Laughter Yoga or Hasya Yoga.

What exactly is Laughter Yoga?
Laughter yoga combines deep controlled breathing and stretches with various types of forced laughter. Each type of laughter (greeting laughter, hearty laughter, open-mouthed silent laughter, humming laughter, lion laughter and/or swinging laughter, with arm movement) is held for up to 30-45 seconds and each laughter session lasts for 20 to 30 minutes.

History of Laughter Yoga
Laughter Yoga was developed in India in 1995 by Dr. Kataria. It began as an interest of his. He had read much on the benefits of laughter and wanted to try it for himself. One morning he went to a park and motivated four other people to form a group with him. The idea of this group was to make each other laugh. At first they began with jokes, but when the jokes ran out Kataria had to find another way to continue the laughter and keep the club going. After some research Dr. Kataria learned that fake laughter or laughter for no reason produced similar benefits as real laughter and introduced this to the club. Dr. Kataria’s wife also suggested the inclusion of gentle breathing and other yoga exercises to the Laughter Club. Laughter Yoga was formed and quickly grew.

Laughter Clubs
If you like the idea, join the club. Seriously, there are now over 5000 Laughter clubs all over the world in countries like: India, USA, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Dubai, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Singapore, Taiwan, UK and Vietnam. There is even a World laughter Tour (www.worldlaughtertour.com) and a World Laughter Day.

Laugh Club vs. Funny Movie
Why is a laugh club better than a funny movie? Norma Meyer asks the same question in her article, Ha ha Yoga, “âÂ?¦ why not flick on Comedy Central or pop in an amusing DVD? Laughter clubbers laugh that off. They say it’s sustained laughter (10 to 40 minutes at a shot) that provides the health benefits. And it would be a bust to watch, oh say, a Ben Stiller potty-joke movie, since researcher Berk contends derogatory or demeaning humor “biotranslates” differently that “mirthful” or happy or joyous laughter” (http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/health/20050927-9999-lz1c27yoga.html).

To start or join a club, go to www.worldlaughtertour.com. You may also find Laughter Yoga news and other interesting information at this site.

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