Ho Ha, Ho Ha, Ho Ho, Ha Ha! After reading that you’re probably skipping the “ho,” and the “ha,” and going straight to, “HUH?”
You might be thinking it is a string of typos that we forgot to edit or that it’s some language that you don’t understand. Funny enough, it is one of the first chants you will learn as a warm-up exercise in a Laughter Yoga class!
Our subconscious mind and our conscious mind do not know the difference between an event that has actually happened and an event that we are simply thinking about that has not yet happened. To the brain, it’s real either way.
*Ditto about laughing! The body doesn’t know the difference between genuine or forced laughter, so laugh anyway! *Sidenote: Yes we really did just try to bring back the word ditto.
With a year like 2020 and the stressors of everyday life, we could all use some techniques to make our face and our souls smile.
This way, when it feels like you’re being punched in the gut by life, you can learn how to react by giggling your guts out (even without a punchline) at Laughter Yoga!
Laughter Yoga Is Not Funny
At this point, you might be asking, “What is Laughter Yoga?” In order to answer that, we must first ask you a few questions.
Question: What did the dyslexic cow say in the yoga class?
Question: Why is it easy to make an appointment with a yoga teacher?
Answer: Because they’re so flexible
Question: What kind of car is best at yoga?
Answer: Mercedes Bends
If those jokes didn’t tickle your fancy, that’s okay! In fact, Laughter Yoga is specifically designed to help you practice laughter without needing actual humor.
The founder of Laughter Yoga, Dr. Madan Kataria, had come to this conclusion based on his own experience and research about laughter in 1995 when a laugh club he created (AKA a group of strangers he gathered in the park as a focus group) eventually ran out of funny jokes like the ones we just shared above!
As a result, history – and this article paraphrased here – suggests that the park focus group participants started sharing rude, inappropriate, or X-rated commentary that others found to be anything but funny.
Dr. Madan didn’t get discouraged by this, he became more intrigued to uncover new techniques to incite laughter besides joke-telling so that a person could still reap all of the health benefits of laughing.
It’s funny that his conclusion was that you don’t need something funny to laugh at. You just have to laugh, even if it’s not authentic because your body will produce “happy chemistry” regardless.
With his newfound discovery about laughter, coupled with his yoga instructor wife’s addition of breathing exercises and gentle movements, Laughter Yoga was born!
Let Us Humor You With 3 of Our Favorite Benefits of Laughter Yoga:
Having a laughing fit is the most enjoyable benefit, but read on to learn three reasons you should already be giggling like a schoolgirl in excitement to try Laughter Yoga!
1. It’s a FREE* Workout!
*Disclaimer: We mean that laughing is free. Paying for an actual Laughter Yoga class may not be free, though the benefits you will get from it are priceless!
“Laughing so hard it hurts” expresses the sentiment that laughing is an actual workout. A good belly laugh can actually tighten your belly!
Laughter Yoga is a stand-up exercise to feel like you did sit-ups. Literally – as in you can laugh while standing up, but we also meant that it’s a credible technique to oxygenate your body and your brain the way cardio does.
The main difference? It’s way more fun to not be able to catch your breath from laughing and feeling like you are so alive than it is from not being able to catch your breath on a treadmill and feeling like you’re dying.
Laughter Yoga is a stand-up exercise to feel like you did sit-ups.
In fairness though, both working out at the gym or laughing in a class will help you to release endorphins to feel more energized!
One advantage to laughing, though, is that you can laugh from anywhere! You aren’t limited to a gym or studio, and you will never feel like a dumbbell forgetting to bring equipment like a dumbbell. The only tools you need are an open mouth, an open mind, and an open heart.
And speaking of hearts! One reason people tend to workout is for heart health. Whether you are jogging or laughing hysterically, you may notice that your face flushes red or gets all warm and gushy, or that your heart and pulse start beating quicker.
This is because in both cases, your blood vessels are dilating. Your circulatory system (also known as the cardiovascular system) is being stimulated in the best way possible!
In conclusion, it works out that your heart ends up being happy on an emotional level when you work out your heart on a physical level – all by simply laughing!
2. Laugh Attracts Laugh
The law of attraction suggests that like energy attracts like energy. In other words, positive vibes attract more positive vibes.
Laughing raises your vibration. The higher your vibration, according to the law of attraction, the more situations, people, places, and things will be magnetized to you that provide more reasons for you to laugh.
If you have ever been near someone who has spontaneously combusted into a fit of laughter, then you already understand how it would take a herculean effort not to laugh with them or at them! Laughing is contagious. Laughter begets more laughter.
This is how it works at a Laughter Yoga class.
Even if you’re feeling a bit silly doing the funny faces or saying the chants, you still benefit twofold as long as you try.
For starters, as mentioned earlier, your body does not know the difference between real laughing or when you’re faking the funk, and therefore your body still produces the physical benefits that come with laughter (revert back to #1).
Secondly, there really is just no way that you will not end up organically laughing – whether it’s at yourself, the absurdity of what’s happening around you, or because you caught a case of those contagious cackles! The energy around you is so high, that much like the law of attraction, your energy naturally wants to rise up to meet that level of joy!
We like this benefit of laughs attracting more laughs because it represents freedom. Freedom to express yourself. Freedom to lose control through laughter that comes from the tips of your toes.
The more you practice laughing, the more you will start to notice all the beautiful things you already have in your life to smile about.
Freedom from stress. Freedom from judgment: to not give a hot damn what anyone thinks about you as you’re sticking your tongue out and singing “Weeeeee.”
Freedom to drop responsibilities of adulthood and embrace that childlike sense of wonder and glee! Freedom to choose – to turn your negative mood into a positive one just by altering the shape of your lips.
The more you practice laughing, even when you don’t want to, the more you will start to notice all the beautiful things you already have in your life to smile about.
3. It’s Natural Medicine
Laughing is healing, it is a natural medicine for your mind, body, and soul. It helps with immunity, boosting your mood, healthier blood and oxygen flow, relieving stress and chronic illness, and can diminish physical and emotional pain.
In times where your head and your heart are misaligned, laughing can help bring you back into balance and into your organic state of homeostasis. No pill or formula works faster than an eye squinted, head tilted, hand on stomach type of laugh.
You may not need caffeine. Laughter helps keep you alert and engaged. You may not need aspirin for a headache. Laughter helps you get out of your head. You may not need a Redbull. Laughter helps keep you focused.
Laughing nourishes us. It renews us. It restores us to our intended state from birth – joy!
We suggest a lifelong prescription of daily doses, if not hourly with the possible side effect of your cheeks hurting.
Let Laughter Yoga Tickle Your Funny Bone: The Takeaway on the Benefits of Laughter Yoga
We hope you have had an “a-ha” moment reading this, but at the very least, we hope to have gotten a “ha” out of you with at least one of these laughter puns.
After all, yoga is not just about stretching out your humerus, which is the arm bone between your shoulder and your elbow. Laughter Yoga can quite literally be humorous!
And with that, we leave you with, Ha Maste: the funny bone in me honors the funny bone in you!
(We learned that awesome pun in an actual Laughter Yoga class. To get a sneak peek at what that class was like and some additional benefits of Laughter Yoga, check out this video.)