Thursday, August 20, 2009

Laughter - the best Medicine

My friend Joyce is in town (the last week - darn!) from Hawaii, & today I rode my bike over to the Senior Center for her Laughter Yoga class. Now we 'all know' that Laughter's a great medicine, how de-light-ful to spend an hour with a group of kids & adults, laughing away!
Some of the health benefits of laugher: happy hormones, it's a physical workout, helps with weight loss, makes us smarter, distracts us from negative emotions, alter how we respond to stress & is contagious. Even 'fake' laughter perks us up, & makes us feel better.

Ask yourself - who's in charge of my emotions? Who decides how I feel?

Try this, bend over & say "I'm so depressed! I feel awful" . . . then sit up straight, throw your arms in the air, smile & say the same thing? Does it feel true? Try again - bend over, hang your head & arms down low, say "I feel GREAT! I'm so happy!" now throw your arms above your head, smile, & say "I feel FABULOUS!' . . .. tee hee!

Laughter Yoga is laughter for 'no reason!' No jokes are told, tho there are exercizes to prompt laughter - being handed an invisible Visa bill, say; pretending to open it - make an awful face as you 'read' it, then show it to your neighbor (the kids each got 3 or more invisible bills!) point, moan, laugh . . . think of how you might feel if you smiled while you paid your bills.

Begun in India in March of 1995 by Dr Madan Kataria, who was writing an article 'Laughter - the Best Medicine' for a health journal, laughter yoga has spread around the world. Begining with about a dozen students, for the first few weeks, the group told jokes or 'funny' stories to stimulate laughter (more than 50 folks had joined them in the park) . . . but some of the jokes were hurtful - what to do?
In reviewing his notes,
Dr Kataria realized that 'fake' laughter produced the same positive benefits & 'happy chemistry' as the 'real' thing - what if they began just laughing? With a background in amature theatre, Dr Kataria used role-playing & other games to stimulate childlike playfulness & produce laugher. With his wife Madhuri, he practiced Yoga, & saw similarities between Pranayama exercises, so laughter Yoga incorporates elements of deep breathing, stretching, clapping (full hands, fingers to fingers, to stimulate the meridians) & the 'mantra' "Ha ha ha! Ho Ho!"

There's 'official' training (what a hoot!); there areapproved blogs,
there are short vids to watch . . . .

So, stop what you're doing, find something to laugh at & do it!! After a bit, clap your hands, say the mantra (clap with each word: Ha Ha Ha! Ho Ho!) put your hands on your belly & feel them warm up

Smile, you'll feel better!


Hanlie said...

I've been making a conscious effort to laugh more...and it very quickly becomes a way of life instead of an effort!

This Guy said...

WOW! That is SOOO cool. I've always heard that laughter is the best medicine, but I've never ever ever heard of a Laughter Yoga Class! It sounds amazing! The energy in the room must have just been pumped!!

You are so right, who can put their arms in the air, jump around and say they are depressed. Sometimes you gotta make your actions lead and hope your emotions follow..

I know when I am stressed or upset I start with a nice warm bath, relax then go for a walk to look at the flowers! :) Always makes me feel better! Maybe now I will search for a laughing yoga class!

Bret =)

Ruth said...

Sounds rather fun - I'll try it!

Dia said...

Yes, it was absolutely delightful! It's so true, Hanlie, that simply making the effort to laugh more quickly becomes what you do?
The energy was hopping by the end of class! Last week I ran into a friend who teaches Yoga teacher, & she's on her way to Mexico TODAY to studyL. Yoga with Dr Kateria!

Ruth: tee hee!!