Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Laughter Yoga by Elizabeth Venart

Laughter Yoga is an exercise and wellness routine that combines fun laughter activities with deep yoga breathing. It was developed in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria.  A physician fascinated by medical research demonstrating the positive health benefits of laughter, he decided to start the very first laughter club through an informal “experiment” in which he brought together a group of just five people at a local park in Mumbai, India with just one task: To laugh. They told jokes and funny stories and invited others in the park to join them. Their small group quickly grew to over fifty people! However, Dr. Kataria soon realized being funny was not the best pathway to laughter, as sense of humor is very personal, and offense is as likely to emerge as laughter when jokes are involved.  In his effort to address this challenge, he reviewed laughter research and discovered that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. We get the same profound health benefits whether we are simulating laughter or engaging in the real deal!

Laughter yoga is based on the principle that anyone can laugh at any time for no reason whatsoever, without relying on humor, jokes, or comedy. Since that first gathering in the park only 16 years ago, laughter yoga has now expanded to over 6000 laughter clubs worldwide.

In laughter yoga, we encourage laughter through simulated body exercises and interactive activities in a group. Using eye contact and childlike playfulness, this “pretend” laughter soon turns into real and contagious laughter. The health benefits from laughter include improved mood, strengthened immune system functioning, decreased stress, lowered blood pressure, and experiences of pain relief. To top it off, laughing is FUN!

For more information on laughter yoga, check out the links below, and enjoy the video of the baby laughing. This baby was born knowing how to laugh. Research has shown that, on average, children laugh approximately 200 times per day, whereas adults laugh only seven times. Laughter yoga helps us reclaim our natural tendency to laugh and helps us learn to take ourselves less seriously. Join Elizabeth Venart on Mondays at 9:30 a.m. at The Resiliency Center for a weekly laughter yoga club. Learn more and RSVP through our Meetup group. 

Laughter yoga can be practiced in groups, done alone, or learned and deepened by working individually with a Laughter Yoga Instructor.  Elizabeth Venart, a Licensed Professional Counselor, and the Founder of The Resiliency Center, gained certification as a Laughter Yoga Instructor in June. Since that time, she has been offering the laughter club and also infusing laughter yoga into her work with individuals and groups.  To learn more about Elizabeth Venart, visit her website or give her a call at 215-542-5004.

Dr. Kataria’s Laughter Yoga Website

Laughter Yoga Program on Discovery Channel

Dr. Kataria, Founder of Laughter Yoga, Laughing Silently at 5:00 am

Yang-Sheng Mind-Body Research Update article

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