Today is National Let’s Laugh Day! This day was created as an annual reminder of the importance of laughter for well-being. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are numerous health benefits for laughter.
Some of the physical health benefits include:
- Rejuvenating numerous organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
- Balancing the stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
- Soothing tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
- Boosting the immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
- Relieving pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
- Improving resilience. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
- Balancing mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.
“Laughter is the best medicine” isn’t just a cliche saying. There is a lot of truth in that phrase!
Laughter yoga is a form of joyful movement and was developed in the 1990s by Dr. Madan Kataria as a means of engaging in regular and intentional laughter practice for its health benefits. No props or humorous circumstances are needed to prompt a chemical release—the facial movements and sound of mimicked laughter can still create restorative chemistry and may lead to the development of more genuine laughter.
The following video is an introduction to laughter yoga by Laura McCook, Certified Laughter Yoga Leader and fellow brain-retrainer. In the video she explains more on the background of laughter yoga, includes the specific health benefits of a regular practice, followed by a demonstration of some simple exercises to get you started. Laura engaged in laughter yoga for several years before becoming a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader. Laughter yoga reawakened her ability to laugh and feel joy again which inspires her to help others find that power within themselves. I met Laura in a laughter yoga group where we practiced laughter yoga exercises for the healing benefits to help support us in recovering from chronic illnesses. Laughter was always a major part of her life until her experience with chronic illness where joy seemed inaccessible. She knows personally how it feels to be buried so deeply in symptoms that laughter feels out of reach. She also knows the power of neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change and used a self-directed neuroplasticity program (DNRS) along with other supportive therapies to heal from chronic conditions.
Learn more about Laura and her laughter yoga sessions through her website.