A number of years ago I was one of seven guest presenters at a regional conference in Chicago. Just before I was to take the stage, I was standing in the back of the room mentally rehearsing my presentation when an elderly lady came up to me, reached out, shook my hand and said, “I so much enjoyed your presentation, thank you!” She turned and walked away. Just then I was introduced as the next speaker. I walked up, stood before the audience, scratched my head and said, “Just before I came up here, a nice lady congratulated me on what a wonderful presentation I gave, (pause), and I haven’t even spoke yet!” The crowd roared with laughter. Suffice it to say that my presentation went well that day.
This is an example of using natural humor in context to the situation to refresh, enliven, and relax people. But what if natural humor in context doesn’t show up? Well, then there’s laughter yoga.
Laughter yoga is a series of breath, movement, clapping, and laughing exercises proven to relieve stress, improve health, and refresh the mind. It can be practiced either seated or standing and is appropriate for all ages. Today there are over 8000 laughter yoga clubs around the world. Why so many? Because those who practice it have found laughter yoga to be an easy and enjoyable way to experience physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Laughter yoga…
- Releases tension and stress symptoms
- Improves health and energy levels
- Fosters a positive mental attitude
- Strengthens the immune system
The Healing Power of Laughter
You may recall the story about Norman Cousins. He was working a high-stress job as managing editor of the New York Post, was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and was told by the doctors he had just three months to live. What did he do? He checked himself into a hotel and watched hundreds of funny movies, comedies, and comedians for 12 hours a day for three months straight. When he returned to the doctors, they could not find any trace of the illness. He wrote about this in one of his books, Anatomy of an Illness. This is just one example of using the power of laughter to improve one’s health.
“Hearty laughter is a good way to jog internally without having to go outdoors.” ~ Norman Cousins
Feeling Stressed? Try Laughing
Science has shown that laughter strengthens the immune system by increasing antibodies and what’s called, “natural killer cells” that fight infections, colds, and even cancer cells. Dr. Lee Berk from Loma Linda University is just one of many researchers studying how laughter can be used as adjunct therapy for cancer, diabetes, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, mental illness, and other chronic illnesses.
Dr. Kataria, founder of Laughter Yoga International stated, “Ever since I started laughter clubs, I don’t suffer from cough, cold, or sore throat anymore.” He points to the two components of the disease process: 1) the organic disease itself, and 2) the mental form of anxiety, fear, and depression. Laughter yoga is reported to immediately improve the mental component of the disease while strengthening the natural immune system by increasing oxygen, blood circulation, and antibodies.
Conclusion is to Give Laughter a Chance
To my knowledge, no one is saying laughter cures all diseases, but they are reporting reduction in symptoms and a greater ability to cope with their physical, mental, and emotional challenges; and for that alone, maybe we should give laughter a chance.
Click here to read an article about free laughter sessions on Kauai.