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THERAPEUTIC LAUGHTER 

HEALTH BENEFITS of LAUGHTER 

 

Best Cardio Workout

 As life has become more sedentary and stressful, people nd it hard to stick to any exercise routine; Laughter Yoga is an ideal alternative. It can be compared to any aerobic exercise, except that you don’t have to wear fancy shoes or clothes. You don’t need to slog on a treadmill or the tracks. Just laugh yourself t and healthy. According to Dr William Fry 10 minutes of hearty laughter is equal to 30 minutes on the rowing machine! This is in respect to cardiopulmonary endurance. Laughter Yoga is ideally suited for busy professionals and business people who have very little time to exercise. 20 minutes of Laughter Yoga can give you similar results as those of going to the gym for one hour.

More Oxygen

 This is a major factor in the upkeep of wellness. Negative emotions constrict the supply of oxygen and induce shallow chest breathing. Laughter Yoga exercises are devised to facilitate longer exhalation and deep breathing through the diaphragm. This helps in using the lungs of stale residual air and increasing the net supply of oxygen.

Increases Blood Circulation 

Physical disease or mental problems all counter wellness. They restrict circulation and slow down the body system. Research has shown that laughter causes an ‘internal jogging’ that massages and promotes circulation to the digestive and lymphatic systems. It increases circulation to push the body and organs of waste products leaving us ready to operate at peak performance.

Stress Buster

Stress is the number one killer today, and most illnesses are stress related. When under a state of stress, the biochemical changes alter the breathing pattern making it shallow and irregular. More than 70-80 per cent illness is related to stress. These include cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and heart attacks; arthritis, asthma and other allergic conditions, diabetes, cancer, chronic fatigue, anxiety attacks, mood swings, psychological distress, depression, sleep problems, eating disorders peptic ulcers, poor immune function, chronic pain, attention de cit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cold, u, headaches and migraines, alcoholism and drug abuse and more. Laughter Yoga is an instant stress buster. It has been scientifically proven that laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine and enhances positive emotions.

Laughter Boosting For Stressful Situations

Growing competitiveness and desire for lofty accomplishments in the workplace, academics, and sports as well as in the field of creative arts invariably places people in a vulnerable situation, which can generate fear, anxiety and worry and lead to an immensely negative and stressful scenario. The performance levels are most likely to be reduced as rationality gets clouded with stress. It is therefore important to alleviate these circumstances and create an ambience for optimal performance. Laughter can do just that. It has the power to boost positive emotions and enhance self – confidence just within minutes before a stressful event.

The practice of using unconditional laughter to prepare for stressful events is known as ‘Laughter Boosting’ and is gaining popularity with speakers, actors and other performers to prepare themselves for presentations to audiences of all sizes. People are also using laughter boosting to prepare for job interviews and public speaking. Laughter boosting can assist students to prepare for examinations and also help sports teams to prepare for optimal performance before the competition. Cases have been reported where people have utilized the enhanced endorphin levels provided by laughter boosting to undergo surgery without the use of anaesthetics!

Laughter Yoga For Personal Development

Laughter Yoga has also proved to very effective as a personal development tool. It enhances mental skills and abilities that help a person to improve their performance in every sphere of life. As it generates a positive mental attitude; it helps to change the mood state and the whole perspective towards life and people in general.

Here are some aspects of personal development which are easily enhanced by Laughter Yoga:

Self Confidence

 Laughter Yoga is a powerful means for self-confidence as it helps to overcome inhibition and shyness and eases out awkwardness. Laughter and smiling not only helps to communicate with others effectively but also creates a safe environment for others to connect and come closer. This goes a long way in achieving success in business life, personal life and social life.

Communication Skills

 Stress and negative emotions reduce communication skills and the motivation to communicate. Laughter Yoga is a perfect exercise routine that counters these effects. As it induces unconditional laughter through group dynamics and childlike playfulness, it enables people to communicate and express their emotions freely. It generates positive feelings and alleviates all negative strains of thought. It allows people to be more open with each other and creates a feeling of safety where issues seem less important. When we laugh with others, criticism and sarcasm seem to evaporate. We are not judgmental and are able to let people be themselves and enjoy them even more for that. It also makes us generous to a level where we feel better giving than receiving. In effect, it promotes good will and cooperation between generations, between those with opposing viewpoints, and even between nations.

Maintains Emotional Balance

 It is comparatively easy to manage physical or mental stress but very complex to handle emotional stress which arises due to problems at home or at work, faulty relationships and several other strained situations. Faced with such circumstances, people and it hard to express their feelings and emotions. As a result, they suppress their emotions. Laughter Yoga helps the free flow of emotions and releases pent up feelings. It defuses painful emotions like fear, anger, resentment etc. thus preventing con icts, easing tension and helping to us to understand and comprehend the other person’s point of view.

Makes You Look Younger

Laughter is an excellent exercise for toning facial muscles and improving expressions. When you laugh, the face becomes red, due to the increase in blood supply, which nourishes the facial skin and makes it glow. Laughing people look more cheerful and attractive. It also adds a sparkle to the eyes by squeezing the tear glands through laughter. Laughter also exercises the abdominal muscles and helps to reduce those ugly potbellies.

Laughter Boosts Immune System

A weak immune system is a major cause for almost all sickness and ill health. One tends to spend millions on prescription drugs while overlooking the natural coping mechanisms of the body intended to restore health. Laughter Yoga strengthens the immune system and one does not fall sick easily.

The lowering of the immune system is also somewhat responsible for the development of cancer. Laughter quickly increases immunoglobulin levels that help fight infection and increases the number of Natural Killer Cells (NK cells) in the blood, which plays a key role in cancer prevention. According to Dr. Lee Berk of the Loma Linda School of Public Health in California, laughing makes it grow stronger, with the body’s T-cells, natural killer cells and antibodies all showing signs of increased activity. Laughter should be combined with other forms of treatment to provide cancer patients with an improved quality of life and the best possible chance of survival.

Disease University of Maryland Medical Center discovered that laughter expands the blood vessels promoting circulation and reducing blood pressure. It improves circulation and increases the supply of oxygen. In experiments, it has been proved that there is a drop of 10-20 mm Hg (or torr) pressure after a 10-minute laughter session.

Depression

Depression is the number one disease today. It is a combination of symptoms that interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, and eat. A disabling condition, it can affect a person many times during their life. Depressed people seldom laugh, and laughing people are seldom depressed.

Laughter Yoga has helped thousands to overcome severe depression all over the world as it uses laughter in the form of physical exercise rather than using cognitive humour. This means that anyone can laugh, regardless of their state of mind and cognitive ability. So, even depressed people are able to laugh. It is not unusual for people who have suffered long-term depression to recover through laughter, even after years of anti-depressant medication.

Laughter Yoga creates a positive state of mind and fosters a positive and hopeful attitude with increased optimism. This makes the world seem a wonderful place full of fun and interesting people and great potential for achievement and happiness. In this state, one is less likely to succumb to feelings of depression and helplessness. As laughter is known to reduce the levels of stress hormones it is a powerful remedy to elevate the mood state instantaneously and lift the spirits.

Depression-linked stress switches o body systems not required for a ‘ flight or fight’ response. These include the immune, digestive and sexual systems. Thus the chronic stress of depression causes one to lose interest in activities that bring pleasure, including sex and good food. The weakened immune system leaves one prone to illness and disease. Laughter Yoga, on the contrary, has the opposite effect on the body. It switches on and boosts the immune system, digestive and sexual systems thus restoring the pleasures of good food and sex and enabling the body to fight infections and disease.

Depression is often associated with physical pain, feelings of despair, loss of appetite, immobility, insomnia and other cardiovascular problems. Practising Laughter Yoga regularly helps to resolve most of these ailments as it is one of the fastest ways of boosting heart rate, reducing blood pressure, providing an excellent cardio workout and alleviating pain. Extended hearty laughter is a body exercise with powerful body-mind healing effects. In addition to strengthening the body to aid recovery, it can provide mental tools to help cope with the stress of illness, and also transform the emotional condition, providing a strong motivation to become well.

Anxiety And Panic Attacks

When in a stressful emotional state or turmoil, the breathing pattern alters drastically. It becomes faster, shallow and irregular. Sometimes people even hold their breath under stress which leads to an accumulation of carbon dioxide in the blood. Laughter Yoga provides an excellent cardiac workout and triggers a particular breathing pattern that provides significant respiratory bene ts. It lowers the amount of residual air in the lungs, replacing it with oxygen-rich air. This reduces the level of carbon dioxide in the lungs, thereby reducing the risk of pulmonary infection. By shifting the breathing pattern from shallow to deep diaphragmatic breathing, it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which is the cooling branch of the autonomic nervous system and is the opposite of the sympathetic stress arousal system. This scientific phenomenon coupled with ancient yogic wisdom of breathing makes this concept a unique exercise regime to loosen stress and relieve anxiety.

Natural Pain Killer

Laughter Yoga is a universal remedy for the release of emotions and reduction of pain. The regular practice of laughter exercises has helped thousands to deal with their unattended pain. It is unique as it approaches laughter as a physical exercise rather than using cognitive humour. This means that anyone can laugh, regardless of their state of mind and cognitive ability. It is not unusual for people who have suffered chronic pain to recover through laughter.

The moment we sense pain, we naturally tense up and there is muscle contraction. But, the more we tighten up, pain gets more intense. Laughter Yoga releases endorphins, natural opiates that are more potent than equivalent amounts of morphine. It helps in reducing the intensity of pain, in those suffering from arthritis, spondylitis and muscular spasms of the body. Many women have reported a reduced frequency of migraine headaches.

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