Do you remember the last time you laughed really hard? Bent over, clutching your stomach, gasping for air and completely oblivious as to why you started laughing in the first place? Afterward you felt giddy, alive and happy.
In the mid-1990s, Dr Madan Kataria realised the importance and benefits of laughing and this inspired him to create the laughter yoga routine. It started off as an early-morning exercise and is now a worldwide phenomenon, with over 6 000 Social Laughter Clubs in about 60 countries.
Laughter yoga combines self-triggered laughter and yogic breathing (Pranayama). It’s based on the scientific observation that the body can’t differentiate between real and faked laughter, as they both deliver the same powerful physiological and psychological benefits.
South African-certified laughter yoga professional and trainer, Martin Combrinck, who runs Laughter for Africa, says regular participation can improve your physical and mental health. “Everybody’s experiencing the benefits of laughter yoga – they sense the change within themselves and feel better.”
The laughter’s stimulated in a group when combined with eye contact and exercises. Fake laughter quickly turns into real and contagious laughter. “The whole technique works to this effect: breathing, childlike playfulness, laughter exercises, laughter meditation and laughter relaxation play a part,” says Combrinck.
According to www.helpguide.org, laughter acts as an antidote to stress, pain and conflict. It relaxes the body and relieves physical tension. It also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s “feel-good chemicals”, and protects the heart by improving the function of blood vessels and blood flow.
Since humour’s beneficial to your health, you should make it a point to have a good laugh each day.