Can laughter yoga promote world peace? And what the hell even is it anyway? After a rough few years, we’re open to give anything positive a whirl. Arent’ you?
First there was plague, then war, and now the threat of financial collapse … all overshadowed by the spectre of environmental disaster. It seems like years since we’ve heard anything positive on the news. And then there are the small indignities, such the rude person who only has eyes for his smartphone and drops the shop door on you when you’re out doing a good deed like buying special milestone gifts for parents. All of these things add up to a lot of stress, depression, even hopelessness. You may feel helpless in the face of all this impending doom, and yet, life goes on and you need to get on with things, go to work, care for the fam, and all the rest of it.
The good news is that there is something you can do — right now — to make the world a better place. To paraphrase a famous author, the most effective weapon the human race has is laughter. Read on to learn more about the underrated yet powerful armament of laughing yoga…
A Brief Explanation of Laughter Yoga
Laughing Yoga (LY) may sound like a farce, but it is not. LY has been covered by many esteemed publications including The Daily Telegraph, Time, National Geographic, and The Wall Street Journal. LY is not a joke. It is a real, beneficial exercise that has been confirmed by scientific research.
Developed by Dr. Madan Kataria in the mid-1990s, LY is currently practised in over 100 countries around the globe. The technique combines laughter with breathing exercises to deliver extra oxygen to the brain, resulting in increased energy levels and reducing stress and anxiety, all while fortifying the immune system and strengthening your ability to deal with negativity in these difficult times.
Laughter: the Universal Language
Language sometimes puts up a barrier; laughter breaks it down. It allows us to connect with people of all cultures and nations. Laughter is contagious. Best of all, laughing is free, no special equipment required.
Laughter Yoga for Happiness
Everyone wants to be happy. But worry and fear currently rule the day. While the modern approach to dealing with mental distress has been to turn to pills, the simple, natural act of laughing has been scientifically proven to work wonders on a wide range of health issues, both mental and physical. And yet, we struggle to fit laughter into our day.
First of all, there isn’t much to laugh about. We may LOL regularly in texts and online, but we rarely find ourselves laughing out loud in real life. The occasional chortle from jokes, memes, comedy and so on are not enough to deliver the benefits of LY. Despite a quantity of verifiable research, no effective system of incorporating laughter into a health regimen had been developed — until Dr. Kataria came along.
LY is a wellness tool that reliably provides the mental, physical and interpersonal benefits of laughter without having to depend on clowns, cute cat vids or anything else to get you giggling.
Laughing Yoga for Health
Fact: the body cannot tell the difference between genuine and fake laughter. From a scientific point of view, laughter is a physical reaction of rhythmical, usually perceptible and audible contractions of the diaphragm in humans and certain other primates.
Just like having to explain a joke ruins it, this dry description doesn’t begin to cover the intriguing effects of laughing on the body. Laughter, whether real or simulated, produces significant physiological and psychological benefits. These include a reduction of stress hormones including cortisol and an increase in beneficial hormones, aka, endorphins. Blood pressure goes down.
Laughing also promotes the production of white blood cells and T-lymphocytes, resulting in improved immune function. Psychologically, laughter decreases negative feelings such as anger, hatred, anxiety, stress, and depression. Laughter has also been shown to reduce insomnia, pain, and dementia.
LY does not need to be performed in a formal setting, and you do not need training in order to do it, although some find instruction to be beneficial. The only requirement is that you sustain the laughter for a period of time. This can actually be challenging, so it is best to start small.
Try it for a few minutes a day until you build up stamina. Warm-up exercises include chanting sounds like ‘ho ho ho’ and ‘ha ha ha’ along with clapping. Vigorous chanting and clapping stimulate the diaphragm and boosts energy. When performed as part of a group, eye contact and movement among participants is encouraged. Once the lungs and diaphragm have been primed, laughter is alternated with deep breathing.
Child-like playfulness is the goal. LY can be performed sitting or standing. Sessions end with relaxation breathing.
Thousands of laughing clubs have spread across the planet, creating a global community of loving, positive people who want to share and spread social, mental, spiritual health, and promote international peace. Don’t live near one? No worries: there are online clubs too.
Laughing clubs are particularly popular with seniors. A growing number of businesses, including such illustrious names as the BBC, Google, and Oprah Winfrey have created laughing clubs as an effective and inexpensive way to reduce stress, pressure, and competitiveness amongst their employees, whilst simultaneously boosting wellness, teamwork, and creativity.
World Laughter Day
Created in 1998, World Laughter Day is celebrated the first Sunday in May every year. Laughter club members, family, friends, and anyone else who is interested in participating gather in public parks and squares to laugh and radiate kindness, compassion, and unconditional love. The day has on its agenda nothing less than the promotion of health, happiness, global consciousness and international kinship.
Laughter Yoga for World Peace
If it sounds like a stretch to say laughter can change the world, think again. External war is a reflection of internal conflict that is going on in the minds of the world’s inhabitants. You may feel small and insignificant, but when you change yourself, you change the world around you. Laughter alters our biochemistry quite literally. That inner positivity gets transferred to your surroundings. When people do this on a grand scale, genuine change is not only possible, it’s guaranteed.
Laughter really is the best medicine, not only to cure your personal woes, but to heal the planet itself.