How would you like a laugh-fest each morning? A hearty laugh really gets the day going!
Laughing clubs are a place where individuals can practise Laughter Yoga. Also known as Hasyayoga is packed with psychological and physical benefit. Developed by the Indian physician Madan Kataria, these clubs encourage members to participate in prolonged periods of voluntary laughter.
It is believed that this activity, initiated via creativity and social interaction rather than through comedy and humour, produces an array of positive psychological and physiological benefits ranging from simple mood elevators to stress reduction and pain relief. These clubs are often run in groups, where eye contact and playfulness is encouraged, and where forced laughter is ideally turned into genuine, contagious laughter. Only a handful of studies have looked into the science of Laughter Yoga, but they have found that there may be a number of medical benefits associated with the activity.
These include improved cardiovascular health, a more positive mood, and more uplifting social associations. It is suggested that laughter clubs may be as beneficial as exercise therapy for patients suffering from depression, and Oxford University discovered that the human pain threshold is significantly higher for those in laughter groups than those participating in a control group. It is also suggested that Laughter Yoga encourages the production of endorphins, leading to an opiate effect, which assists in social bonding and mood enhancement, as well as with reduced pain and lower stress levels.
Laughing with friends seems like a pretty great way to help with anxiety, pain, and stress! Laughing Clubs became popular in the mid-1990s and early 2000s, with the practice being performed in open parks in the early morning. Individuals who take part in these clubs believe in, or wish to try the powerful healing effect associated with laughter. They’re also impossible to miss (or not to hear!). Just look for the beaming faces and consistent sound of laughter.
The activity is seen as an exercise, and as a way to encourage fun, healthy joy without equipment or constraint. Laughter relaxes the whole body and has the benefit of being socially contagious, hence Laughing Yoga is so often done in groups rather than as an independent activity.
A class will typically start with socialising and talk, followed by stretching and breathing exercises. Participants then begin exercises with specific elements associated with various forms of yoga, often under the guidance of an instructor. If you’re looking for a way to improve your mental and physical health, as well as that of friends and family, why not give Laughter Yoga a go? A number of retirement and community centres offer classes as part of their health and fitness programs, and you will definitely find yourself in good company.