Happy Face laughing photo

Gotta Laugh-Feelin Good

“Life is worth living as long as there’s a laugh in it.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

My last post included a serious look at the idea that laughter can be used as an adjunct treatment for depression, and other mental health problems. Indeed, there are a few different types of “Laughter therapy”. With that said, Laughter Yoga, and laughter groups are becoming quite popular in some mental health milieus. It is offered in psychiatric hospitals, outpatient setting, and in everyday settings, for every day people who just want to feel good.

Laughter Groups were introduced as Laughter Yoga and became popular after an Indian physician names Madan Kataria wrote the book called Laugh For No Reason in 2002.

This is a practice that of actual voluntary laughter without any actual stimulus. Humor therapy is a form of therapy that requires something funny to actually trigger a person to laugh, such as a funny movie, or a clown, or a joke. This interventions is also knows to have positive effect. But practicing laughter yoga will result in a person having a tool that he or she can used at any time needed, even if there isn’t anything funny happening, or the person is too depressed to be humored. By voluntarily laughing, the body automatically relaxes, and a person naturally feels better. In many, if not in most cases, the person will actually begin to laugh without making himself laugh… the voluntary laughter may very well turn into a natural involuntary laughter. Either way, the person will have a more relaxed body and a more positive mindset after completing the laughing exercises. Classes are usually in groups, and participants become playful, connect with eye contact, and have allot of fun.

Laughter yoga has been around since the 1990s and was practiced in parks allot in the mid-1990s. Laughter Clubs emerged a little later. Madan Kataria started the first Laughter Yoga Club in 1995, and shortly thereafter, Laughter Clubs started opening up all over the world.

A typical laughter group session will begin with gentle warm-up techniques including body movement, clapping, stretching, chanting, and visualization and breathing exercises. All of this prepares the laughter yogi to be able to mange real strong belly laughs.

Include eye contact with other peers in the group, childlike playfulness, and laughter exercises. The group begins in this way and begins with fake laughter which results in deep breaths and positive physiological changes in the body. As the group begins to “lighten up” and become more playful and relaxed, unconditioned and non voluntarily laughter usually starts up with a few individuals, and because this kind of laughter is contagious, more and more of the groups ends up laughing uncontrollably. And it feels good. Laughter Yoga sessions sometimes finnish up with a “laughter meditation. This might be a different kind of “therapy” for you, but you might want to explore it and see if it is for you.

If you would like to explore this idea further, check out some of these websites below. I also included a couple of YouTube Videos so that you can see a laughter group in action. The one from India is my favorite. You can also look up Meetup.com to see if there are any local laughter groups that meet up regularly in your area. There are actual laughter clubs all over and in most cities.

“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”
Mark Twain

Official Website of Dr. Madan Kataria (The laughter Guru): http://www.laughteryoga.org/english/club

The Laughter Yoga Institute: http://lyinstitute.org/

World Laughter Tour: http://www.worldlaughtertour.com/sections/training/info.asp

Watch a Laughter Group in action on YouTube: https://youtu.be/BOY7L88RV70

Watch another Laughter Group in action on YouTube: https://youtu.be/yXEfjVnYkqM