There was a time not long ago when a client of mine was appalled at the possibility of yoga being taught as a stress management technique.
How times have changed.
Nowadays everyone knows about it, lots of us have tried it, and some of us use it regularly. The benefits from its breathing and stretching are so well established that it has moved from being sneered at to being welcomed.
Is this now the case with laughter yoga / yogic laughter?
As we move into an era where personal, professional and environmental wellbeing are recognized as both essential & intertwined, the answer looks increasingly ‘yes’.
As with mindfulness, the benefits of yogic laughter include enhanced wellbeing (‘happiness’), reduction in stress, anxiety and depression, and improved resilience.
These benefits are also attainable through positive psychology and the likes of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and as research is starting to show, through yogic laughter practices as well.
Even the Pentagon has had happiness seminars.
These benefits impact our professional life as well as our personal life. Evidence is accumulating fast to show how we think more clearly, more creatively and for longer when we are in a positive mood.
Yogic laughter practices create this positive mood instantaneously.
The environmental aspect is becoming appreciated because in this arena too, health-inducing inner practices contribute to practical effectiveness. Leading figures and pioneers like Satish Kumar of Resurgence and Sir Julian Rose of the Soil Association use these practices.
What does yogic laughter offer?
- Willingness: being prepared to explore a practice for its benefits, even if the practice initially feels unusual
- The smile: both smiling and laughing change brain chemistry and improve mood & effectiveness
- The power of the mind: using the power of memory and anticipation for these same benefits
- Movement and posture: we change our mind by changing our posture and how we move.
As with mindfulness, yogic laughter practices can require only a little time, they are simple if not easy, and are learnable.
If happiness and good mood are recognized as valuable across a spectrum as wide as Oprah, Google and the Pentagon, I’d say we’re getting there.
Time to laugh with, not at?
Learning yogic laughter practices