When I was at Integral Yoga teacher training, I’ll never forget when I saw ‘Laughter Yoga’ on the schedule. What was that? At the time I had the misconception that yoga was supposed to be solemn. To me laughing during a class seemed absurd, but boy was I wrong. It was amazing and fun. At first you pretended to laugh and before you knew it you were laughing for real. It was very healing and very cathartic, but its biggest benefit was that it wiped away all the stress of school. Laughter really is the best medicine when it comes to relieving stress. And more and more research proves it. Here are some of the benefits you can get from a good laugh.
- Laughter relieves muscle tension. After a good laugh muscles were measured to be more relaxed for a good 45 minutes afterward.
- Laughter releases endorphins. Endorphins are those feel good hormones that lead to a sense of wellbeing and also reduce stress.
- Laughter boosts the immune system by increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. It improves your resistance to disease.
- Laughter decreases stress hormones in your system.
- Laughter prevents heart disease by increasing blood flow, by improving the function of blood vessels, and by reducing stress.
- Laughter increases your intake of oxygen which improves all your vital organs, your muscles, and leads to the relaxation response.
- Laughter reduces pain, adds joy and meaning to life, eases anxiety, improves mood, strengthens relationships, and just feels good!
Now that you know just some of the benefits of a good laugh here are some ways to get more humor into your life.
Hunt for things that make you laugh. Look for photos, comic strips, computer screen savers, videos, and enjoy them daily. I have a weakness for funny cat videos on You Tube. There is no end to the hilarious things cats do.
Smile. Believe it or not if you just start smiling you will instantly feel better. So even if you have to start with a pretend smile it will have the same effect. That is part of the premise of laughter yoga, just start laughing and before you know it the silliness takes over and you really are laughing.
Spend time with fun, playful people. People who make you laugh. My best friend has admitted that fun is one of her core values! Find people like this. And remember humor is contagious. The more people you can get involved in the laughter the better.
Share jokes and funny experiences. Get a joke book you find funny tell them to your friends. Ask everyone to share something funny that happened to them. Share your funny and embarrassing experiences. Laugh at yourself.
Frequent fun places. Go to funny movies or a comedy club. Laugh at the animals at the zoo or at the pet store. I saw some ferrets at the store the other day acting ridiculous. Do something you find fun. And if you get a chance attend a laughter yoga class, please do, you’ll be glad you did!