Combining voluntary laughter with deep breathing exercises can result in good health, said some medical experts.
Forget about perfecting your warrior pose and eagle pose. In laughter yoga, it’s how much you laugh that matters.
Founded by Indian doctor and yoga practitioner Madan Katarja in the 1990s, laughter yoga consists of a series of voluntary laughing and deep breathing exercises.
According to the Laughter Yoga University website, Dr Kataria was long intrigued by a growing body of scientific evidence which supported the notion that “laughter is the best medicine”. Hence, he decided to start his own laughter club, and went one step further to test if both voluntary and spontaneous laughter were good medicine.
His findings were encouraging. Participants reported positive feelings even though their laughter was “planned” and “guided”. A 2014 study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information also shows that laughter yoga can help decrease the risk of depression and lower one’s blood pressure and stress levels. It also boosts one’s creativity, mood, and confidence.
In Singapore, Dr Yvonne Looi is one certified laughter yoga teacher who’s been conducting regular classes. The “joyologist”, who holds a PhD in Biology, said both the laughing and breathing components are important.
“There are plenty of short series of guided activities that we do to break out this inner child within ourselves,” said Dr Looi. “The yoga component is really the deep breathing which brings oxygen into the body.”
She added that it’s important that we appreciate the benefits of hearty laughter.
“Happiness and laughter – it’s very similar to a two-way street,” she said. “We laugh because we’re happy and we become happy when we laugh.”
Dr Looi also encouraged students to give laughter yoga a try.
“If you take a little time to laugh, to be yourself, to nurture your happiness level, you’ll find that your studying gets better, your projects get completed sooner with better quality because you can focus better.”
To join her monthly session, you can indicate your interest on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dryvonnelooi.
You can also try the routine on your own. Just follow these recommended steps by Dr Looi.
- Find a group of friends or family members and go to an open area (e.g. a park).
- Walk around the open area chuckling out “Ha-Ha-Ho-Ho-Ho” twice, adding in claps to spice it up (If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!). Do this twice.
- Cleanse your mind by flossing it. Pull out a string of invisible floss between your fingers, and start flossing around your ears. As you floss, remember to empty your mind by laughing your worries away.
- Form a circle and hold hands. As you breathe in, bring your hands all the way up towards the center. As you breathe out, relax and chuckle.
- Lie down on a mat with your eyes closed and take a deep breath. Put your palms together and place them over your heart to feel your heartbeat.
- Feel the happiness.
About the Author: Cheryl Lim
Cheryl has a dangerous addiction to chicken and hip-hop music. When she is not writing, you can spot her snorting at hilarious variety shows or going glassy-eyed at Korean dramas.