Laughter Yoga began in India in 1995 when health journalist, Dr. Madan Kataria, wrote an article on laughter as the best medicine. While doing his research, Kataria kept finding references to scientific studies that described the many proven benefits of laughter on the human mind and body. Kataria decided to conduct his own research and started a laughter club of five people in a local park.

Initially the group shared jokes and funny stories, but when they ran out of jokes, Kataria and his club discovered that people could continue to laugh even without comedy. When they started laughing for no particular reason it didn't take long before they were laughing sincerely. It was a simple case of fake it until you make it.

Laughter clubs now span the globe with thousands gathering regularly to laugh out loud. What about the yoga part?

The word Yoga means, to yoke the mind, body, and spirit. It's not really about exercise. One of the concepts of yoga is pranayama, or the breath.

When yogis synchronize their breathing with movement and meditation or, in the case of laughter yoga, with laughter, they're practicing Pranayama yoga. With laughter yoga, yogic-breathing is coordinated with simple yoga movements and poses done while laughing.

Laughter yoga can be done alone or in groups and with yoga clubs springing up everywhere (including schools, prisons, hospitals, and nursing homes), finding people to laugh with is easy.

Trained instructors or leaders guide laughter clubs by getting the ball rolling with a variety of exercises. Groups generally meet for less than an hour. While it's recommended to meet daily to achieve the most benefits from laughter, many groups meet weekly, monthly, or just occasionally.

What are the benefits? Science has proven that laughter reduces stress hormones and increases endorphins and other "feel good" chemicals. It's reported that for many people, the effect of regular belly laughs has been enough to eliminate their need for antidepressants.

Researchers have proven that laughter benefits physical, mental, and emotional health:

  • It boosts the immune system
  • Increases circulation
  • Reduces sensations of pain
  • It's good for the heart and blood vessels
  • Strengthens lungs
  • Helps build great relationships
  • And if done right, it can be a great workout.

How to you start? Log on to one of many Laughter Yoga websites to find a group in your area or purchase a DVD for exercises to help you laugh on your own. Will it cure what ails you? It might. Laughter has no unpleasant side effects and is fun for everyone, it's worth a try.




Laughter Yoga International