HOW IT GOT STARTED: Renowned Indian physician Madan Kataria, M.D., created the laughter yoga concept. He first held meetings in 1995 with only five people. Today, there are more than 5,000 laughter yoga clubs in more than 55 countries.
NO JOKES NEEDED: Instructors and participants do not rely on jokes to make them laugh. The laughter is induced. Participants simply giggle for no reason, and it becomes contagious! Instructor Edely Wallace, from Yogamatrix Studio in Orlando, Fla., says, "It's like a child that laughs for no reason, and this is what laughter yoga is. We laugh for no reason. Humor is not a prerequisite for laughter."
IT REALLY IS EXERCISE! Those who take part in the laughter yoga class say they do get a real workout. "Laughter yoga is aerobic because you have to breathe from your belly to laugh. Laughter comes from the belly," says Wallace. "It's breathing. You jump around … You perspire. You burn toxins."
HEALTH BENEFITS: Research shows laughter improves oxygenation, produces endorphins, releases neurotransmitters which create new pathways in the brain, and balances the hormonal system. It creates a "feel good" chemistry that acts as a natural painkiller, and it rejuvenates and accelerates healing processes in the body. Studies show it does not matter if laughter is spontaneous or induced because the body does not know the difference between the two. It produces the same chemistry.
MORE LAUGHING, PLEASE! Wallace says children laugh between 300 to 400 times per day. In contrast, adults only laugh between 15 to 20 times per day. "We lost this ability to laugh, and this is what creates bad chemistry in the body," says Wallace. "When we learn to laugh again, we come back to our childlike playfulness, and life becomes easier. Everything becomes easier."
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