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Laughter Yoga: Curving Your Lips Instead of Your Body

Filed Under: Men's Health at 9:16 am | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Imagine you are in a park, taking a leisurely Saturday-morning walk. A man approaches you and asks if you will help him form a laughter club. He is a complete stranger, someone you have never seen let alone spoken to before. What do you do? Look for the nearest escape route, offer him money and hope the insane asylum finds him soon, or sit down and start swapping jokes? As crazy as the last may seem, that’s exactly what four people in India did when Dr. Madan Kataria set about creating his laughter club in 1995. At first, the group shared one-liners and corny punch lines, but they soon ran out of ‘clean’ jokes. So, Dr. Kataria created laughing exercises. These self-induced chuckles quickly evolved into a workout phenomenon known as laughter yoga.

Laughter yoga is based on the idea that your body cannot differentiate between a real and a fake laugh.  As such, forced chortles will elicit the same physical and mental effects that actual ones would. Through a series of “Ha Ha Has”, laughter yoga will help you relax, relieve stress and possibly lower your blood pressure and boost your immune system. But what exactly does it involve?

Each class begins with rhythmic clapping and soft chanting (Ho-Ho-Ha-Ha-Ha).  Then, the participants do a number of breathing and stretching exercises (the yoga part of laughter yoga). Finally, they engage in a series of laughter exercises. There are three different types: playful, value-based and yogic. The playful techniques are designed to reduce your inhibitions. You’ll practice phone laughter, hot soup laughter and dancing laughter. Value-based incorporates emotional gestures, such as hugging, arguing and forgiving, in an effort to remind you of the importance of positive human interaction. And yogic laughter turns your attention to the physical, inspiring you to laugh like a lion, laugh heartily or hum laugh.  Once you’ve worked through all of these, you go through a series of closing techniques to cool and calm down. At the end of an hour, you have laughed your way to health. Sounds like knee-slapping fun, doesn’t it?

For more information, visit the official Web site of Laughter Yoga

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