The idea might seem counterintuitive if you participate in a laughter yoga session, and if you watch a video you will probably feel strange; The soundtracks and sudden movements sound as if someone is trying to put on a comedy show.
However, the reality is very different, when you start and wait a few minutes, you enter into a different mood and a unique and refreshing experience.
The benefits and infection of laughter
Laughter is healthy for the heart, mood, immune system, burns calories, relieves anger and pain, and relaxes muscles, so how if combined with yoga techniques? Laughter is as contagious as yawning, and a study in London and published in the journal Nature in 2006 confirmed that most people’s natural reactions to smiling or laughing come automatically while they watch people laugh without knowing the cause, similar to infection.
This was confirmed by some social experiences, including this video, which spread widely on social networking sites, and which shows the infection of laughter on public transport.
Laughter and happiness
“Laughter without reason is a lack of etiquette,” this concept has always surrounded us until it came aboard Laughter Yoga as a treatment for anxiety and depression, says Maya Karaki, yoga and laughter yoga instructor, to Al Jazeera Net. It explains this technique, its benefits and methods of implementation, and that it is a “combination of laughing exercises and yoga breathing techniques.”
Maya considers it a unique concept that consecrates laughter for no reason, and without comedy, joke or a funny situation, and it is a group exercise that depends on eye contact and physical movements.
“She is .. ha ha .. ho ho”
And Maya points out that the vocalizations that she sang loudly such as: “He she, ha ha, he” drives all kinds of breathing, and that breathing techniques are performed between each two exercises.
She says that the mind does not distinguish between the fake and the real laughter, so the brain reads them positively in both cases. Which improves mental health.
Laughter Yoga (or Hasya Yoga) was recently started in Mumbai, India in 1995 with Doctor Madan Kataria and his wife, a Madhuri yoga instructor. “In laughter yoga, we don’t laugh because we are happy; we are happy because we laugh,” says Kataria.
Laughter yoga became its own techniques, pioneers, admirers, followers, and teachers. Maya says there are more than 8,000 laughter yoga clubs around the world.
Benefits of Laughter Yoga
Maya cites, “Pretend until it is real.” Thus, laughter begins to come from the heart.
And she assures Al Jazeera Net that she chose this type of yoga because her trainers are few compared to other types, and it attracts all ages. Some young and old cannot tolerate regular yoga, and this made her more interested in laughter yoga, after she specialized in yoga and “Reiki” (energy therapy).
Laughter yoga has many benefits, and Maya notes that we must laugh daily between 10 and 15 minutes, but when we hear a blink, we usually laugh for a few seconds, and this is not enough for mental health.
Maya shows that one of the benefits of laughter yoga is that it increases the level of the hormone endorphins, increasing the level of oxygen in the body and brain by 25%, and the body becomes healthier and more energetic.
It also relaxes the muscles, which helps to relax and move blood circulation, and it boosts the immune system which helps to recover faster from depression and shift moods for the better.
Maya says that laughter yoga is also used in cancer patients and in nursing homes to relieve stress.
She points out that her exercises lead to social communication, especially if individuals work with each other, because they laugh together and care for each other and build participatory relationships.
Maya notes that each stomach laugh burns 3.5 calories, and that laughter yoga helps a healthy sleep, and raises facial lines (wrinkles) as if she had been injected with Botox.
The body moves physically and negative energy comes out of it, and it also helps the person be more creative and motivated, considering that whoever said “Laugh the world laughs for you” is not at all wrong, because the mind reads laughter in a positive way. Maya shows that some people practice laughter yoga once a week, and she finds it very beneficial if it is applied daily.
Laughing from the stomach
As for how the exercise is done, remember that laughs must be released from the diaphragm, from the stomach, so we open the mouth wide for laughter, high and deep, until the breath reaches the stomach. She says that 1% of people breathe through their stomachs, which is the best way to breathe. She points out that laughter is unconditional and without accounts.
During the session, she gives instructions and speaks while the rest look at her and at each other to enhance confidence and communication in the eyes of the language, and imitate each other with body movements.
The trainees stand in a scattered form and not in a circular shape, and the session duration is about half an hour, and it is better to be outside and the sounds are loud. The continuous laughter will be between 10 and 15 minutes after the explanation about laughter yoga and the clap exercise “to bring out the child inside us, and between each two exercises a specific breathing technique is practiced for comfort,” according to Maya.
And the last 10 minutes may be meditating with laughter, and Maya does not use it often. Rather, she uses what is called “yoga nidra” for relaxation (a state of awareness between waking and falling asleep, such as the stage of going to sleep, which usually occurs through guided meditation), and some fall asleep during it. As Maya says.
Who needs laughter yoga?
As for those who need laughter yoga, Maya considers that all people need it, especially since the psychological pressure is intense these days. She says that she notices that adults are very happy with these exercises, “They say that they bring back children, so laughter is contagious. I laugh and make them laugh. As for children, their laughter is easy, and 300 out of every 400 children laugh simply.”
Maya gives laughter yoga sessions to displaced children, and the accompanying video shows, as she contributes to alleviating their suffering.