How I Found A Way To Laugh More
Feeling like you’ve not laughed for a while? Forgotten what it’s like to have a really good belly laugh? Is life throwing crap at you too fast to find anything funny? Think you’ve got nothing to laugh about?
Well I realised the other day I’d been far too serious for a long time and it had been ages since I laughed so much it hurt – years in fact! I was rather shocked at this realisation and decided to do something about it. I wanted to learn how to laugh more
As we get older Life become so serious. We don’t really live – we just try and exist.
How to Laugh More
I’ve posted before about ways to be happier and I know there are many other ways so I started researching online. I came across a laughter yoga meetup group. Laughter and yoga? Rather an odd mix – but looking into it it’s not a form of ‘yoga’ as we know it to be, that is, a series of asanas ( poses) but a series of techniques to encourage laughter.
From humble beginnings Dr Madan Kataria started laughter yoga in a park in Mumbai in 1995 with just 5 participants. There are now over 10,000 laughter clubs in 73 different countries.
The success of the idea of laughter yoga is that your body doesn’t know the difference between fake and genuine laughter.
How You Benefit When You Know How To Laugh More
When you laugh your body benefits from a wide range of chemical reactions, such as:
- An increase in oxygen nourishing every cell in your body and improving energy
- An increase in circulation and so supports natural detoxification
- It gives the abdomen a workout and helps digestion
- It boosts the immune system as it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system – the rest and digest state and not fight or flight!
- A reduction in high blood pressure. After a laughter yoga session the blood pressure comes down to a lower resting rate
- Stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are reduced so we feel more relaxed
- A release of endorphins ‘happy hormones’, and so removing the negative effects of stress
- It helps with low mood and anxiety by boosting the production of serotonin – a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness
As long as you are willing to laugh you will get the same psychological and physiological benefits of laughter.
It is usually practiced in groups where you can make eye contact and connect with your ‘inner child’ – without trying to sound to woo woo! But we do forget how to play and have fun as we get older.
So off I went…
I learnt How To Laugh More
To be honest, the first few minutes were painful. Standing in a room of about 15 strangers, all of us feeling slightly uncomfortable; Nervously anticipating what lay ahead in the next hour and feeling really self-conscious. Making eye contact and laughing with complete strangers was so out of my comfort zone, as it would be for many Londoners! But it wasn’t that bad once I let myself go – we were all in the same boat.
We participated in several group ‘exercises’ which involved acting out things such as throwing imaginary balls to each other, talking complete gibberish, walking around the room and showing surprise at meeting ‘an old friend’, sharing a funny phone call with others. Sometimes I felt I was back in a school drama class…And that old party favourite (?!) – passing a balloon down the line between your knees.
Yes it was childish and yes it was uncomfortable but after about half way through I found myself genuinely laughing. I could see the ‘yoga’ connection through the reconnection I had with myself and my body as I really felt the laughter. A union of the body and emotion.
Laughter is infectious. Listening to others laughing, triggered the same response. Some participants simply had infectious laughs. I’m smiling remembering one in particular now!
Laughter came from the sense of relief that I wasn’t alone feeling social embarrassment
Laughter came from pretending to be laughing.
Laughter came from the feeling of connection to others seeking the same freedom
Laughter came as it simply felt good
Laughter came from the relief in realising I CAN laugh again.
Laughter came from a deep place buried for too long
After We Learnt How To Laugh More
The feedback from the group was positive. There was a release of stress and tension, a feeling of connection and both uplifting and calming feelings. Generally there was an increase in well being and feeling happier. So what’s not to like?
As adults we forget why we need to laugh, and just how good it feels when we do, sometimes we need a reminder.
I attended the laughter yoga wellness group run by the hugely likable Odette
And there are even Laughter yoga telephone clubs! 5 mins of group laughter every day…..even worldwide Skype Laughter Clubs which are free 😊 – so great to get a lift of mood at almost any time zone! Odette has personally laughed with the Skype clubs in Japan, Australia, Canada, South Africa and USA!
This creative idea took off when a Finnish author researching the use of social media on the internet, got interested in the idea of Skype Laughter.
The first Laughter session included the Laughter Yoga founder Dr. Madan Kataria . It was such fun that they decided to continue the laughter meeting on Skype. So now every Sunday at 10 am GMT there will a 10 minute laughter session on Skype. Anyone is welcome to join the club, chat and become a part of the Laughter Yoga family worldwide. Simply send an e-mail to [email protected].
I strongly recommend trying out a laughter club at least once…go on get out of your comfort zone and have a laugh!
I’d love to hear if you’ve been to laughter yoga or if and decide to go. Let me know below!
Photo thanks to Jameel Winter