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Laughter Yoga- The New Alternative Yoga On The Scene

Laughing your way to happiness and health! The Squeeze gives you the low-down on the latest alternative yoga practise

You’ve heard of Ashtanga, Hatha and Vinyasa Flow, but what about Hasyayoga? Otherwise known as ‘Laughter Yoga’, this alternative yoga practise is new on the scene. So what's it really all about?

 

The History:

Laughter yoga was started in 1995 by Madan Kataria, a medical doctor from Mumbai. Interested in the benefits of laughter for both the mind and body, he assembled 5 of his friends into a park in Mumbai to attend the first ever ‘laughter club.’ From its humble beginnings, the practise has grown massively and there are now over 5,000 laughter clubs worldwide!

 

What actually IS Laughter Yoga?

The actual practise of laughter yoga combines yoga breathing techniques, body movements and laughter exercises to calm both your body and mind. The idea behind it is to encourage you to live in the now and deepen your breathing to calm your mind.

 

Whilst mostly focusing on simulating laughter in different forms, laughter yoga does also include some physical poses and pranayama breathing techniques too. It’s not necessarily as physically demanding as other forms of yoga and exercise, but laughter yoga still offers a number of health benefits, both physiological and psychological.

 

What are the benefits?

Good news! The voluntary acts of laughter within the practise produces the same benefits as an involuntary giggle with your friends.

 

1/ Improved Immune System

Laughing reduces the levels the stress hormone, cortisol, in your body. Cortisol is an immunosuppressant so, as a result, your immune system gets a boost when you chuckle.

 

2/ Improved Mood

As well as suppressing cortisol production, laughing also triggers the release of endorphins. Endorphins are ‘feel good chemicals’ which improve your mood and relax your body for a happier day!

 

3/ Higher Pain Tolerance

The release of endorphins from laughing also helps to reduce how much pain we feel by increasing the body’s pain tolerance.

 

4/ Social Connection

Laughter Yoga clubs involve exercises in which attendees laugh together as a group. This helps build social connection and bonding. Positive and strong social connections between people have been linked to better mental health and longer lifespans.

 

3 Laughter Yoga Exercises To Try at Home Today:

 

Lion Laughter:

Stick out your tongue, put your hands up to your head and make them into claws, and laugh deeply from your belly

 

Gradient Laughter:

Start by smiling and then progress to a small laugh. From here, increase the intensity of the laugh until you reach a big, deep laugh and then slowly bring it back down

 

Silent Laughter:

The name of this exercise explains it all! Close your eyes and open your mouth and laugh silently

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