Be Healthy Solutions for Total Wellness

Laughter Yoga

Research has shown that little children LAUGH up to 300 times a day, while the average adult laughs less than 15 times per day. And I’ll bet you know some people who never seem to laugh at all! What have we been missing?

It seems that the innate wisdom we had as little children faded as we grew older. The stresses and responsibilities of adult life gradually creep into our everyday experience, and can take their toll on our bodies, minds and spirits. Before long the natural sense of spontaneity, playfulness and fun that we knew as children gets replaced by seriousness, stress and worry.

Medical science is now beginning to discover that this shift in our attitudes and activities contributes to high stress levels and deteriorating mental, physical and emotional health. Laughter Yoga was developed to reverse these trends.

Studies show that hearty laughter provides three main benefits:

First, laughing signals our glands to produce increased levels of beneficial hormones and other compounds into our bloodstream and brain. After smiling and laughing for just a few seconds, endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and other compounds begin to flood your brain. They bring a surge of pleasure (similar to the “runner’s high”), relieve aches and pains, stimulate your immune system to fight off disease, and help counteract the effects of aging. Laughing releases these compounds much faster than traditional exercise. While it takes at least 20 minutes of strenuous exercise (like running) to trigger the release of these compounds, hearty laughter releases them in only 17 seconds! Laughing is an easy way to battle the blues and improve your outlook on life. After about 10 minutes of hearty laughter, your body’s stress indicators are reduced by as much as 70%.

Second, hearty laughter itself is real physical exercise that stimulates your body in multiple ways. The deep and intense breathing that accompanies laughter floods your body with oxygen, which helps energize your cells, clear out toxins, increase your physical energy, reduce blood pressure and prevent disease from ever taking hold. Dr. Otto Warburg, twice Nobel Prize winner in medicine, said, “Remember, where cells get enough oxygen, cancer will not—cannot occur.” The aerobic benefits of laughter are dazzling. Just one minute of hearty laughter produces the same aerobic benefits as 10 minutes of exercise on a rowing machine. Even the staccato rhythms of laughter (ha, ha, ho, ho) help to literally shake up your internal organs, promoting better digestion, improved release of toxins and healthier organ systems.

Last, but not least, laughter shifts your consciousness into the “here and now.” Once you start laughing, shyness, fears, anxiety and worry drop by the wayside.
It becomes easy and fun to relate to other people, despite differences in age, race, culture, economic status or physical abilities. When you’re laughing, none of this stuff matters. Laughter knows no particular language, either. In fact, you could say that laughter is the Universal Language. Laughter brings out the playful side of our human nature that tends to get lost as we grow older. It’s FUN! And for many people, this is most important benefit of all.

Here’s how the Littleton Laughter Club works. As people gather at the Riverwalk Clubhouse, we chat a bit with everyone and catch up on our laughter-friends’ lives. Then at 10 am we begin with about 10 minutes of gentle stretching, clapping and deep breathing to warm-up our bodies and minds. As we’re doing this, we’ll act out the major benefits of laughter yoga in a playful fashion. Then we launch into the laughter exercises. There is little talking, and lots of laughter. The exercises are mostly physical, and allow us to act out (mime) common everyday experiences that we accompany with laughter. There are no jokes or comedy, as such. Just the playful hilarity of simple situations made funny simply by laughing at them. There are hundreds of variations of the laughter exercises, and the Littleton Laughter Yoga group encourages your creative input to choose or develop your favorites for us to share. One of our simple rules is to FAKE-IT-TILL-YOU-MAKE-IT. If your laughter is not arriving spontaneously, then fake your laughter enthusiastically until the real thing takes over. With the help of all the other people laughing, you’ll soon be yukking it up and laughing yourself silly. The laughter exercises take about 20 minutes. Then we wind down the action and move into a relaxing laughter meditation. Most people emerge from the 45-minute session feeling relaxed and energized. Some folks report that their lingering aches and pains are gone, and the stresses and worries they came in with have dissolved.

The benefits of a single laughter club session can be profound. But as with many things in life, regular practice brings additional benefits. We encourage people to attend our laughter club sessions regularly, so the benefits can accumulate. Just as doing a single push-up won’t make you stronger, a single laughter club session is just the beginning of an internal revolution that will transform you from the inside out. By practicing laughter you gradually shift your mental outlook, stress levels and overall health and well-being. Then you’ll begin to move toward a happier and healthier life. We also offer tips on how to bring increased laughter into your normal daily activities, so the things that used to bug you just become fodder for more laughter. Imagine laughing your way through your troubles…

Thank you for deciding to laugh with us! See you at the Riverwalk Clubhouse soon…

Yours in love and laughter,
Bev & Brian Davis
Our motto: Learn to laugh and be happy, and the world becomes a better place.
Check in your own area to see if there is a Laughter Yoga group nearby for you to begin your own laughter therapy. I am enjoying this one in Littleton, CO and have been told that there are over 6000 such groups around.

I have often heard that laughter is great medicine and it is apparently substantiated by medical science. It certainly can’t hurt us and maybe can help us.

Connie Clark

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