Also known as Laughter with No Reason or Hasyayoga, Laughter Yoga is an exercise routine designed to lower stress and foster a positive attitude while obtaining the benefits of traditional yoga. The practice involves using self-triggered laughter, or laughter that was not necessarily caused by humor, in conjunction with yoga breathing. Laughter Yoga therapy has become a popular way to treat prison inmates, people with disabilities, and many other persons around the world.
To engage in Laughter Yoga, one must typically participate with a Laughter Yoga group. The group may be an already existing one, or one that the participant wishes to create in his or her area. The group leader will introduce several yogic exercises to be completed in conjunction with laughter. Participants are expected to accept that they require no reason to laugh, and should simply begin laughing together, as the effect tends to be contagious once it has begun. Specific clapping, vocal sounds, hand placements, and other gestures are a part of a typical Hasyayoga session.
This yoga practice began in 1995. It was created by Dr. Madan Kataria of Mumbai, India, and his wife, yoga teacher Madhuri Kataria. The two developed the concept around the idea that the body cannot distinguish between self-induced physical laughter and laughter that is triggered by humor. The benefits of either laughter, therefore, remain the same. Since yoga has already been established as a useful stress reduction tool, adding laughter, another known stress reducer, seemed to make the practice of yoga even more beneficial to those who practice it.
In addition to stress relief, Laughter Yoga has been shown to be helpful in treating or combating many other ailments as well. Cancer patients who engage in Laughter with No Reason have reported better functioning immune systems as well as longer survivor rates than patients who do not laugh regularly. Schools that use this type of yoga at the beginning of the day often note a more positive and productive environment, and it has also been used to treat conditions such as arthritis and asthma.
Laughter yoga benefits also include the increase of overall happiness and feelings of well-being. Many people can call to mind how they feel after a hearty laugh. It allows people to experience this release often, which allows them to abandon worry to an extent, and enjoy their lives more fully. Seniors who experience mental decline and the reduction or absence of humor may find that the practice allows them to continue laughing well into their old age, as well as to experience the other benefits of yoga as well.