“You have so much energy,” people usually tell me, wondering how one person can constantly be smiling, laughing and motivating others. I have always been active and a bit crazy so it’s no surprise to my friends that I’ve become a laughter yoga instructor.
Yoga has never been my passion. I considered it too boring. I am an action seeker, a kitesurfer, a motorcyclist. I hold a Masters Degree in sports and languages and have travelled the world. In 2018, I moved from my home in Germany to Western Australia. I teach sports such as swimming or skiing, anything that makes people move. Yoga and meditation were more like sleeping pills for me.
When I first read about Laughter Yoga two years ago, I was intrigued as it sounded like yoga – but fun. I tried it out and realised that it hasn’t much to do with traditional yoga and I felt so good afterwards that I did a course and became a trainer. I’m still a people mover, but there’s much more behind laughter yoga than just being active and having fun.
Laughter Yoga was invented by an Indian doctor who wanted to help his patients without prescribing drugs. The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on the scientific fact that our body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. One gets the same physiological and psychological benefits which means that we are able to trick our body by pretending.
Children laugh over 300 times a day while adults hardly reach up to 15 – a pathetic reality that is leaving laughter to chance. Apparently, at some point, we lost the ability to enjoy everyday life through a good belly laugh. Laughter Yoga allows us to laugh without humour or a specific reason. It is a set of exercises that can be done by anyone. In order to receive the scientifically proven health benefits of laughter we need to laugh continuously for 10-15 minutes. Natural laughter comes for just a few seconds here and there, but in Laughter Yoga it can be prolonged for as long as we want.
It is called yoga because it combines laughter exercises with yogic breathing. The main characteristic of yogic breathing is that exhalation is longer than inhalation. Laughter is the fastest and easiest method of exhaling longer and floating our lungs. This brings more oxygen into the body and brain which makes us feel more energetic and healthy. The list of scientifically proven health benefits is long and becomes even longer when we talk about the positive effects on our mind, emotions, community and workplace productivity.
Laughter is a health booster by increasing the oxygen-level which leads to more energy and reduces stress. It strengthens our immune system and improves the cardiovascular system. Furthermore, laughter boosts the production of good mood hormones such as endorphins and serotonin. People feel less pain and stress and sleep better. Our mental health improves as a result.
Laughter Yoga is usually done as a group exercise which also helps with social interaction and cohesion. When practised in companies it improves team building and collaboration as well as the overall productivity of the employees. It can also have a positive impact on leadership skills by teaching authenticity. I could continue naming facts and studies to demonstrate the positive effects of Laugher Yoga, but I guess you’ve picked up the message: laughter is the best medicine and it’s available to anyone. No need to be young, fit or talented, you don’t even have to be humorous.
I always tell my participants not to judge and to make sure they follow my instructions. Three or four laughter exercises are usually followed by a breathing exercise. Some of the laughter exercises are indeed kind of stupid such as the lion laughter, which requires sticking out your tongue and making a humming noise. Naturally, most people can’t stand one minute without having their fake laughter transformed into a real laugh. But even those who need more time to step out of their comfort zone leave a 30-minute Laughter Yoga session with a red face. Some spiritual guru once said that laughter was the highest form of meditation and the laughter meditation is indeed another laughter exercise. As someone who always struggled with meditation, I can confirm that the laughter meditation works and helped me to clear my mind.
Being a registered Secondary School Teacher I could have used my laughing skills in a school. But I decided to follow my biorhythm and work every night online as a language teacher and Laughter Yoga trainer so that I have my days free to enjoy the outdoors. Pushing people out of their comfort zone into laughter became my passion and it is all about spreading positivity.
Life is as much fun as we make it to be.
This article was first published Oct 2019