Why laughter is the best medicine

Sara Kay explains the science behind Laughter Yoga and the many wonderful ways it can benefit yourself and your business.

‘The human race has only one really effective weapon – laughter’ (Mark Twain)

 And what a strong weapon it is. I discovered its power when I suffered depression. I was looking for solutions and I came across the concept of Laughter Yoga. It’s been around since 1995, and while it may have seemed whacky at the time, its benefits have become clear over the years.

The more I looked into it, the more it struck a chord. As I started to laugh everyday it helped me through my depression, proving that you can laugh intentionally even when you don’t feel up to it.  I was so impressed that I began running my own workshops in 2016. Serious Laughter was born. 

Laughter’s benefits are far-reaching and can be applied within the workplace to improve areas such as emotional intelligence, resilience, stress relief, relationship building and positivity. It can even improve immunity. If you want fewer sick days – start laughing!

I bet by now you’re thinking ‘How does it do that then?’. Let me tell you…

 

What is Laughter Yoga?

Laughter Yoga is a unique exercise routine, where intentional laughter is created through playful exercises interspersed with clapping and deep Yogic breathing. It’s a simultaneous psychological and physiological cardiovascular workout – think of it like an easy cardiovascular gym workout.  When you breathe and your body moves through laughing, you improve circulation and blood flow to your brain and around your body. You also release a large healthy dose of feel-good endorphins. The resulting benefits include increased brain function (creativity, motivation and production), better resilience to cope, greater social connection, improved energy levels, boosted immunity, decreased stress levels and pain relief.

 

Taking laughter seriously

The first time you do anything is the hardest, but stepping out of your comfort zone occasionally is really good for self-development. The achievement and satisfaction of trying something you’re slightly wary of are actually really good for your brain and self-esteem. So go into your growth zone now and give it a try.

But you laugh all the time, right? Sadly sitting watching a comedy and laughing doesn’t have the same benefit. Laughing intentionally is what helps you to achieve the deep and prolonged laughter that brings with it health benefits. You can feel better after only a few minutes of Laughter Yoga.

I’m going to give you a few tips to get you started…

 

Getting the most out of laughter

  1. Analyse your stress and happiness levels before doing the following so you can compare how you felt before, to how you feel after.
  2. Massage your cheeks, lip roll and move your mouth pretending to eat before doing any laughter.
  3. To create a smile bite a clean pen horizontally.
  4. Breathe deeply from your tummy, not your chest, three times before starting to laugh.
  5. Remember you’ll feel better after laughing – it is simply a form of exercise just like walking or running.
  6. Laugh with ‘ho ho ho’ deeply from your tummy first, then move to ‘ha ha ha’ and ‘he he he’. Breathe deeply between each round of these.

Laughter Yoga is a specialised technique and it takes a while to get right. But once you have the tools, you’ll be able to reap the benefits with your own regular practice. If you’d like to know more about Laughter Yoga for yourself or your team, contact me, Sara Kay, Laughter Yoga Teacher and Laughter Ambassador at Serious Laughter.

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Health & Wellbeing, Inspiration