A new therapy based on laughing may improve health
Laughter yoga, a form of exercise based on chuckling even when you are not in the mood, is winning fans in the US.
The technique, which involves clapping in time with chants of “ha ha ha, hee hee hee”, and patty-cake clapping with other people in the class, was developed in India in the 1990s.
It has been picked up in the US by Sebastien Gendry, who founded the American School of Laughter Yoga, and classes are very popular.
The exercise is based on the principle that you can laugh whether you feel like it or not, and that the laughter still has health benefits, reports the web-magazine Ode.
“Yoga is a body-mind approach to laughter, not something mind-body,” says Gendry. “The distinction is very important. … Laughter yoga invites you to ‘fake it’ until it becomes real.”
Laughter yoga is, he insists, not about jokes or comedy, but uses laughter as a form of breathwork.
Laughter’s health benefits are well documented. It increases the production of happy hormones, which reduce stress and anxiety. Laughter can also reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and allergies and improve respiratory function.