World Half Full
Laughter yoga? It's no joke
“Laughter is the best medicine,” they say, and studies indeed indicate that is the case. Laughter releases endorphins, decreases cortisol, relaxes the muscles, and is good for cardiovascular health. Which are all valid reasons as to why laughter yoga is now a thing. And as instructor Larry O’Brien from Rhode Island tells the Providence Monthly, it’s not hard to laugh. In fact, once you start, it can be difficult to stop. “When you laugh, everybody laughs!” he says.
While laughter yoga — or laughter therapy as its also known — may be on trend, it’s by no means a new idea. It dates back to India in the mid-1990s when Dr Matan Kataria ran laughter sessions for patients. Since then, laughter groups have sprung up all over the world. It seems particularly beneficial to people suffering depression. “It’s an antidepressant,” says O’Brien. “To live mindfully, you have to have a certain amount of mindlessness. You have to have a certain amount of no-thought. And [laughter] is a no-thought experience.”
Combine laughter with yoga, writes Rhik Samadder in The Guardian, and you’re sure to produce a few guffaws. After all, yoga in itself is funny. “It is people in stretchy pants with their bums in the air. It is such a relief to let go of the usual anxieties of this situation … I roll backwards like a purple-faced plum, over and over, buttocks to heaven, shrieking with involuntary cackles.” A self-confessed sceptic at the beginning of the 60-minute laughter yoga session, by the end, Samadder admits to finding it difficult shaking off the “goofy grin on my stupid face.”
PHOTO Sarah Lee/The Guardian