Using the concept that laughter is physical in nature and the fact that the body is not able to recognize a difference between real or simulated laughter, yoga laughter programs attempt to utilize the combined health benefits of these two well acknowledged therapies.
Generally conducted in a group setting participants attempt to initiate laughter by staring at one another while participating in mood setting activities such as petting, yoga deep breathing exercises, and other relaxing laughter inducing activities.
They perform the process of a forced laughter ritual which in many of the participants stimulates genuine laughter. It is believed that all of the participants will each acquire the full health benefits of the exercise.
Pranayama is the term used to describe yoga breathing exercises. Prana means life force or breath while Yama is the discipline or control of. The yoga breathing exercises are designed to strengthen the diaphragm and stomach muscles in order to help a person to attain maximum oxygen into the body and the brain.
These breathing exercises have a number of very important health
benefits. Not only do they increase strength and flexibility of the lungs but they also serve to increase overall lung capacity. By increasing the amount of life force that you are able to bring into the body these breathing exercises open the energy flows within your body. They promote extra oxygen within the blood, and this aides in the removal of toxins from the body, and increases the body’s ability to heal itself.
Laughter is a process that also serves to stimulate and strengthen the diaphragm and stomach muscles. Much alike the yoga breathing exercises laughter increases air flow into the lungs and this allows additional oxygen to enter the body. The two combined processes of the yoga breathing exercises and laughter aide each other to maximize the health benefits the body can receive.
You can join a yoga laughter group or you can create your own by inviting friends, neighbors, or relatives to join you in your own yoga laughter therapy program. The program itself is very versatile. You can meet indoors or out of doors. Many groups meet in park like settings.
Your group can stand, sit, or lay on the floor to perform the positions required within this exercise program. However, the breathing exercises are best performed in an upright position.
Be sure to make frequent eye contact with those around you during both the yoga breathing and laughing positions. This eye contact sharing will help to stimulate a level of comfortableness and light-heartedness within the group. Watching others attempt to stimulate a laugh will help to initiate genuine laughter among the participants.
Generally the program will begin with a few breathing exercises. These can be done in standing, sitting, or laying posture, and will help the participants to relax. One person will act as the instructor to lead the group through the proposed exercises.
You can select the breathing exercises and routine that you wish to implement into your therapy session. There are no right or wrong choices so long as the exercises induce relaxation and laughter. Begin your session by having everyone form a standing or seated circle. Now select a breathing exercise designed to create a relaxed atmosphere around those in attendance.
One breathing exercise might be to inhale slowly and deeply into your lungs. As you inhale elevate your shoulders to help you achieve a maximum inward breath. Feel your chest expand as the air fills it. Hold this complete breath for a count of three and then slowly begin to exhale as completely as possible. Do not force the air outward but instead gently and slowly exhale it. Feel your abdomen contract inward as it empties.
Relax and breath normally for a few minutes before repeating the yoga breathing exercise once more.
Have the group look directly into the eyes of those around them and initiate laughter. A deep belly laugh whether simulated or real is exercise and will serve to strengthen the abdominal muscles.
A participants laughter may not be genuine when they first attempt
these exercises but it generally will become a true laugh the longer that they attempt the program.
When a person smiles or laughs the brain releases a chemical message known as an endorphin. It flows down the spine and sends out feel good messages as it travels through the body. This initiates a feeling of happiness within the participant and increases the likelihood of genuine laughter. But whether or not the laughter displayed is real, it is still exercise, and as such will be of benefit to the body.
Your yoga laughter session can be a program that begins, and ends with breathing exercises, but focuses on laughter within the middle of the session. It can also be a program which simply alternates yoga breathing exercises with laughter sessions. The choice is completely up to you. The point of a laughter yoga program is to derive the ultimate health benefits that you can acquire from the session.
Related Articles by Lorelei Cohen