Laughter yoga

It may seem like a funny concept, but the health benefits are seriously good for you.

Increase your energy, boost your immune system, and relieve depression with laughter yoga

Laughter and yoga might sound like as good a match as chocolate and good nutrition – what with the concentration required to hold a challenging pose – but the health benefits are well understood, writes Angela Tufvesson. Plus, you get to have a chuckle for absolutely no reason at all.

What is laughter yoga?

Laughter yoga incorporates some of the breathing exercises of traditional yoga, but there isn’t a downward dog in sight. A typical class is centred around the idea that the body can’t tell the difference between genuine and forced laughter.

“Laughter yoga is based on the fact that if we just start laughing for the sake of it, it will turn into genuine laughter, which is contagious in a group,” says Jackie Curran, a laughter yoga teacher from Laughter Lawyer. Founded by giggling guru Dr Madan Kataria in India in the mid 90s, laughter yoga burst onto the mainstream after a spot on Oprah. Laughter clubs can now be found all over the world.

What are the benefits?

“Laughter is an excellent antidepressant because it releases serotonin, dopamine and other chemicals in the brain,” Curran says. “You have a really strong burst of oxygen through the body and this helps to energise the body and mind, and boost the immune system. Your blood pressure lowers and you increase your immune cells in the blood stream.” And what’s more, laughter is a great cardio workout. According to Curran, about 100 laughs will raise your heart rate to the equivalent speed of 10 minutes on a rowing machine.

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