laughter yoga: no joke
posted: September 11, 2009
It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine. With just one shared smirk, warmhearted chuckle, or a good ol’ belly-aching-pee-in-your-pants laugh… you can get rid of stress, lift your spirits, or carry memories that can last a lifetime. But could the secret to health and happiness lie in laughter yoga?
It’s no joke. This type of yoga has been hailed as an exercise routine that will sharpen your mind and body. According to Laughter Yoga International, the practice’s humble beginnings started in a Mumbai park nearly 15 years ago. Today, laughter clubs have students giggling and going global, with more than 6,000 social laughter clubs in five dozen countries.
Laughter Yoga combines deep breathing (Pranayama) and yoga poses with laughter. The idea behind this type of yoga is that our bodies cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter, so by simulating smiles our bodies will start feeling more vibrant and energetic.
I gave it a try recently when a trained instructor came to lead a complimentary class at our Ala Moana store. We started off with some stretching, but then we really got going by making amusing noises, imagining ourselves in funny situations, or role-playing with partners. At first I wasn’t convinced. Making eye contact with a stranger and pretending to speak in a foreign language over a phone just didn’t coax a chuckle out of me. I turned to a fellow educator and told her, “this isn’t that funny.” She replied, “This is laughter yoga. She’s a teacher, not a comedian.” This made me realize, if I was searching for a good laugh, I’d have to live in the moment and appreciate the simple childlike playfulness that I had abandoned years ago. Once I stopped taking myself so seriously, I noticed how contagious silliness and a smile really are. One person’s amused grin would turn into smiles, would turn into giggles, would turn into laughter, until the entire class was erupted in an explosive sound that was full of joy and happiness. Medicine for the body and soul.
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