Ah, we all know that feeling of a really good laugh, the kind that leaves you heaving, weepy and pleasantly revived, sighing with satisfaction. Your muscles relax, your face softens (or hurts depending how long you were in stitches), your mood lightens, and your body feels that gratifying high. (Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself now, “Geez, it’s been too long.”)
Dr. Madan Kataria, a family physician from India and founder of the laughter yoga movement, was researching the positive effects of laughter on health when he came up with the idea of formally incorporating laughter into a wellness routine. And we adults, apparently, need the reminder. While children laugh some 400 times a day, we grown-ups only get in about 15 chuckles on average. (Are we lame or what?)
Turns out those belly laughs could be healthy for that belly as well as every other part of you! The benefits? Line ‘em up: decreases stress (lower cortisol levels can help reduce belly fat), bolsters immune function, triggers the release of endorphins, “oxygenates” the body through deeper breathing, promotes better circulation, enhances cardiovascular function, exercises muscles (especially in the core), and “helps with digestion and constipation.” (Insert your own joke here.)
And yukking it up can give you a real workout as well. In fact, 20 seconds of intense laughter, according to certified laughter yoga leader, Barb Fisher, offers the equivalent 3 minutes of exercise on a rowing machine. (Not that we’re advocating giving up your workout routine in exchange for Comedy Central…) The yoga laughter movement now boasts some 5000 clubs in 50 countries.
Here’s some video to get you in the mood. We promise it will get you chuckling. (And that’s the point, after all.)
(Man, sure beats that drill sergeant spin class….) Now this is an exercise routine worth making time for. Sign us up!
One last thought. Wouldn’t it be fun to “practice” (with no warning or explanation) in the break room at work? Oh, the things we do to amuse ourselves….
Anyone out there practice laughter yoga? What about your own brand of humor workout? Do share! And be sure to check out Dr. Kataria’s website.
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