World Laughter Day: Practice laughter yoga to improve your health

If you feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, and want a quick way to boost your mood, turn to laughter yoga. Every year on World Laughter Day, founded by  Dr Madan Kataria who launched Laughter Yoga movement, aims to create awareness about the importance of laughter and the benefits of staying happy.
Well, you may not realise it, but your emotions play a huge role in your overall health. Considering laughter is touted as the best medicine, laughter yoga is a natural tool that can relieve stress and re-establish calm. Read on to learn more about it.

Health Shots spoke to Himalayan Siddhaa Akshar, Founder of Akshar Yoga Research and Development Centre, to understand the benefits of laughter yoga.

What is laughter yoga?

Laughter yoga, also known as hasya yoga, is a kind of exercise that involves voluntary laughter. This type of yoga is based on the belief that voluntary laughter has similar physiological and psychological advantages to spontaneous laughter. Usually done in groups, it involves lots of eye contact and lighthearted interaction among participants. This intentional laughter often turns into real and contagious laughter, making you feel relaxed and happy.

laughter yoga
Laughing has a positive effect on your health. Image Courtesy: Freepik

Laughter yoga is now practised by many people all over the world. Let’s explore how its health benefits.

Also read: Do you ever laugh or cry involuntarily? Pseudobulbar Affect could be at play

Health benefits of laughter yoga

Laughter yoga is popularly practiced by people, especially in groups across studios, parks and gardens by individuals. There is no age restriction for performing laughter yoga. Due to its beneficial effects on both physical and mental health, it is gaining recognition as an important aspect of yoga.

This unique exercise has a number of health advantages, including lowering levels of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline), reducing discomfort, burning calories, and stimulating organs. Its primary goal is to foster health and happiness, promoting overall well-being.

The American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine cites very studies which found that laughter therapy had varying physiological effects on aspects such as blood pressure, life satisfaction, reduced anxiety and more.

According to Akshar, “Laughter yoga serves as a preventative step against mental health concerns including depression, stress, and anxiety while also encouraging a sense of enjoyment and curiosity. It helps to release endorphins (happy hormones), build confidence, and promote an easygoing attitude.”

laughter yoga
Laugh it off, baby! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Laughter yoga has been demonstrated to have a relaxing effect on the nervous system, resulting in feelings of relaxation in addition to bringing joy into our life. Laughter yoga also strengthens the muscles of the face.

How to practice laughter yoga?

1. To start, stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
2. As you raise your arms above your head, take a deep breath.
3. Bring your arms down to your sides and laugh heartily as you exhale.
4. Repeat this exercise five times to warm up your body and get into the spirit of laughter yoga.

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