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by Christel Swasey

Laughter Yoga: A New Healthy Medicine

We innately know that laughter is good for us.  There is something to all these funny YouTube videos and email forwards and knock-knock jokes that we share back and forth.

But have you ever heard of laughter yoga?

Researchers have come close to proving that “laughter is the best medicine”.  Some researchers actually study laughter and find it to be chemically valid for reducing anxiety and depression.  Studies have found that people exposed to  funny movies have better blood flow all day long, than people who watch heavy movies, in clinical tests.  And researchers have found that laughter is healthy even for animals.  Even for rats!

Biomedical engineering professor Jeffrey Burgdorf of Northwestern University found that laughter in rats produces an insulin-like growth factor chemical that acts as an antidepressant and anxiety-reducer.  And scientists have found that chimpanzees not only laugh, but they even laugh when one chimpanzee pretends to be tickling another.

So there is something to laughter, something universal, joyful, and useful, that we can’t really explain.

And that brings us back to laughter yoga.

Laughter yoga is a relatively new idea, but it has a fast-growing band of practitioners.  This form of yoga uses actual laughter, as well as body language that resembles laughter, to induce laughter in the practitioners.

Unlike situps, laughter is a spontaneously contagious exercise.  Really.

So, if this is your first introduction to the idea of laughter as a form of yoga and meditation, check out Doctor Madan Kazaria, the trend’s starter, in action on his YouTube clips.  Doctor Madan Kataria, laughing all by himself, for the health of it, is a very good crack up. Dr. Kataria is not the most cheery looking person in the world before he starts to laugh.  Then, even though you know he is faking it for his health, (just like we push ourselves to go jogging whether we feel like it or not) whoa– you will find yourself laughing at his contagious laugh! Here’s a link:  Click Here

In a CNN article, Dr. Kataria explains laughter yoga’s beginnings.  He had no sense of humor and never has been funny, he says, yet he laughs deliberately now, and teaches others to practice laughing.  The purpose is to live in the moment, to help others live in the moment, and to improve health.

Unrelated to Dr. Kataria, (if you want some of this free medicine, and need some help getting going)  I have a few completely unprofessional suggestions:

First, watch this YouTube video of a baby ripping up a piece of paper on which was written a rejection notice for his father.  It is truly a contagious laughter.  It even makes my 15- month-old-son burst into spontaneous laughter.   (You can’t watch it without laughing.)

The same goes for me, in this crazy Christmas lip-synch clip

My teenage daughter’s high school choir director showed the clip to the class, to show them how not to sing “O Holy Night.”  Around minute 2:20, when he crosses his eyes trying to reach the high note, I am rolling on the floor in laughter.

I hope you are laughing by now.  Enjoy the rest of your day.

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