Ask Your Yogi If Laughter Yoga Is Right For You
Ever heard of laughter yoga? It’s a real thing that, evidence suggests, is beneficial to your health. Laughter yoga, or Hasyayoga, is based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter. Laughter yoga is done in groups, with eye contact and playfulness between participants.
A handful of small-scale scientific studies have indicated that laughter yoga may potentially have some health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health and mood. A study by Oxford University found that pain thresholds become “significantly higher” after laughter, compared to the control condition. Why does this happen? Your body can’t tell the difference between genuine laughter and contrived laughter.
When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body.
- Laughter stimulates many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, reduces your levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
- Laughter improves your immune system. Positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses. You can’t laugh and have negative thoughts!
- Laughter relieves pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
Maybe it sounds strange to laugh or smile when you aren’t feeling it. You know the term, fake it ‘til you make it? Faking a smile or laugh works as well as the real thing—the brain doesn’t differentiate between real or fake as it interprets the positioning of the facial muscles in the same way.
Laughter helps to create a positive mental state to deal with negative situations and negative people; it gives hope and optimism to cope with difficult times and, frankly, it feels good. Laughter truly is the best medicine.