“In laughter yoga, we don’t laugh because we are happy, we are happy because we laugh.” – Dr. Madan Kataria
This weekend, I had the opportunity to enjoy a conversation with an amazing cardiac surgeon in my hometown. This isn’t just any doctor though. This doctor is special because he believes in the power of alternative, natural methods of healing, most specifically: laughter.
The physician I speak of, is an incredibly wise man, nearing retirement and still works full time while maintaining a regular schedule of laughter yoga sessions and dressing up as a clown to entertain children.
His advice? When you are down, or upset about something, this life is too short to be sad for long. Look at yourself in the mirror and start laughing. What makes him believe it works? His own experience.
For those of you reading, this isn’t a joke. There have been studies in the field of psychology demonstrating how simply activating your smiling muscles, increase mood. In one study participants watched a show: Half watched normally and the other half with their mouth around a pencil (sideways). Those with the pencil showed heightened moods! Laughter yoga works the same way, in that it activates your smile muscles, but in addition it activates the other facial muscles and if you’re really into it, even incorporates your stomach muscles to get your whole body into a joyful state. There’s so much more to it!
Some benefits of laughter yoga:
- Cardiovascular exercise
- Decrease anxiety and stress
- Reduce blood pressure
- Reduce wrinkles
- Improve positivity and outlook
- Strengthens immune system
- Pain relief by releasing endorphins, activating dopamine
I think it’s about time, we start taking laughter a little more seriously. What better time to start? World laughter day is the first Sunday of May – That’s this Sunday, May 4th!
*Update 6/27: For a laugh at me and my sister & cousin, check out the video below.