Laughter Yoga is gaining popularity worldwide because of its many benefits. Studies show that it can reduce pain, boost the immune system, reduce cortisol, increase endorphins, improve blood supply to the organs and increase oxygen to the brain.
So, what is laughter yoga? It is simulated laughter exercises combined with breathing techniques. It was developed in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria, a family physician practicing in India. He was looking for a way to reduce stress from living in the over-crowded city of Mumbai. Therefore, he started by creating a laughter club in a public park. The first week everyone enjoyed the humor of the jokes. He then noticed that people were laughing when they saw others laughing; hence, laughter is contagious. Realizing he was on to something, he created simulated laughing techniques combined with breathing exercises. Today there are over 8000 laughter clubs throughout the world.
Laughter yoga can be performed by anyone regardless of age, fitness level or cognitive abilities. If you can laugh, you can participate! It is easy and fun and you feel the positive effects immediately.
Recently, Tanya Gold, M.D. and certified Laughter Yoga instructor, conducted a Laughter Yoga session for 40 people at The Bridges Retirement Community. She had everyone stretching and laughing for nearly 60 minutes. As she explained the many benefits of laughter yoga, she emphasized that choosing to laugh is a tool to add to your medical toolbox.