There is a new kind of yoga, and it is gaining an enthusiastic following. Laughter yoga was developed by Dr. Madan Kataria, who knew both yoga and laughter offer significant health benefits. In fact, studies show laughter can relieve pain, increase happiness and strengthen the immune system. Laughter yoga clubs now exist all over the country.
Laughter yoga clubs offer an intimate and friendly setting in which to practice yoga. As with all yoga exercise, the poses and breathing help to calm the mind and increase mental focus. Laughter yoga adds a blend of playful, empowering and stress relieving laughter moves. The process begins with gentle yoga breathing, poses and postures that eventually build into actual laughter.
Laughter yoga also reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine and growth hormones, while raising endorphins. Like aerobic exercise, laughter boosts energy levels by increasing the flow of oxygen to the lungs and throughout the body. It lifts the spirit and enhances social interaction. With the goal of improving health and peace of mind, laughter yoga also supports personal transformation.
Laughter yoga has been found particularly effective in overcoming depression, the number one mental health challenge in the world today. Depression interferes with the ability of individuals to work, sleep, and study. People with depression seldom laugh, and it is said that laughing people are rarely depressed. Laughter yoga has proven helpful even with patients who have spent years on anti-depressant medication.
Senior citizens are also helped by laughter yoga, who find it increases their social connections and improves their quality of life.