5 reasons why you should try laughter yoga
“Against the force of laughter nothing can stand." - Mark Twain
With more than 100 laughter clubs registered in the UK according to the Laughter Association (interestingly enough none in Leeds yet!), laughter yoga is getting more and more popular.
When I first heard about laughter yoga, my first thoughts were that I would feel very awkward to fake laugh or force laugh in a room full of strangers. Why would you do this? Feeling self-conscious and being afraid of feeling ridiculous, I decided that laughter yoga was not for me. I then started receiving inquiries from organisations which wanted to have such sessions in their workplace in Leeds (Yorkshire) and the rest of England. I thought: “if they want to have laughter yoga sessions in the workplace with colleagues (where we most likely are all more self-conscious than anywhere else), we could literally organise sessions anywhere!”. And I started investigating what this new laughing trend was.
Laughter Yoga was created by Dr Madan Kataria, the “Laughter Guru”, in India, with the belief that laughing is beneficial for our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, even if not spontaneous. The laughter yoga practice is actually based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides the same benefits as spontaneous laughter. Laughter yoga is done in groups. It is a combination of voluntary laughter exercises and body moves, with eye contact and playfulness between participants. And when you practice is, you soon realise that forced laughter often turns into real and contagious laughter!
Looking a bit closer into it, I soon realised the benefits of laughter yoga and why we should all try it at least once and implement some of the philosophy in our everyday life. Here are the 5 (main) benefits of laughter yoga:
Feeling good: laughing releases endorphins (the ‘feel good’ hormones) which increase our happiness levels and boost our self-confidence
Relieving stress: laughing helps us to release heavy emotions in a healthy way and consequently to lower our stress levels and to lessen our anxiety
Letting your inner child out and finding back a sense of play that we tend to lose in our busy adult lives. When I observe my little one, I realise how much babies try new things, experiment, fail, try again… and laugh in the process! It's ok to fail, you'll learn from it and you can laugh about it.
Connecting with others: My daughter started fake laughing when she was one (most likely because she realised it made us laugh in the first place), and her fake laughs always turned in a big collective family laugh! Think about when you hear some people laugh out loud next to you, you can't help but smile or laugh with them, can you?
Boosting our immune system: deep breathing through laughter improves our respiration but also ensures that our major organs are fully oxygenated and gets our blood circulation to work better, which boosts our immune system!
"Laughter is the shortest distance between human beings." - Peter Davison.
We did organise laughter yoga sessions in these organisations in Leeds, but also in many other offices all around Yorkshire and England since, and the feedback has been amazing! Sessions usually last 1 hour, start with an introduction, followed by a warm-up and a series of exercises gathering movements, breathing techniques, and laugh! Laughter yoga classes create a safe environment where you can laugh loudly and fully without feeling self-conscious. Here is some feedback received from one of our previous sessions:
How can we implement laughter yoga in our everyday life?
Smile no matter what. Even if the weather in Yorkshire is terrible and seems better in the South of England. We previously wrote about the benefits of smiling if you want some more insights on this, but in just a few words: smiling at yourself in the mirror in the morning can shift your mood and mindset!
Laugh as soon as you get a chance: why not laughing on your own? And instead of ‘Dance like nobody is watching’ say ‘Laugh like nobody is listening’? What is to lose here? If you want to try laughter yoga on your own at home or with a group of friends, this WikiHow page explains a series of exercises very well with images, from the lion exercise to laughter arguments.
Laugh in difficult situations: Even if you just fell on the floor in front of all your colleagues at work or just spilled your coffee during your first board meeting. You can either feel terrible all day or decide to laugh at the situation and see it under a new light. You have the power to see the glass half full instead of half empty. And when you do, the first terrible situation is not so bad anymore, and you might even have a great day! And if you want to organise a laughter yoga session at work to laugh even more, feel free to get in touch!
Peace and laugh,