When we hear the word “yoga,” we immediately think of a room filled with silence and serenity. Above all, we expect calmness, deep breaths, and intense meditation.
What if we told you there is an alternative to the typical yoga that involves laughing? Yes, laughter yoga exists, and it provides several mental and physical benefits too!
What Is Laughter Yoga
We all know how to laugh, and laughter is the best medicine. Well, laughter yoga is what you imagine it to be. It’s a room filled with people chuckling their hearts out.
Compared to other meditation styles, laughter yoga is a relatively new idea that focuses on the mind and body stimulation. It uses different laughter exercises coupled with some breathing techniques. With this combination, laughter yoga slowly teaches the body how to laugh even without any humor involved. Because of this technique, laughter yoga can benefit your immune system as well. How? Read on.
The Connection Between Laughter And Our Immune System
Our immune system relies on a highly efficient cleaning system within our body, called the lymphatic system. It is an intricate network made up of thin vessels. It is responsible for collecting waste materials our body contains. Then, it gets rid of the waste products through the spaces between cells. However, the process is much more complicated than this.
Now, what does laughter have to do with this system?
The lymphatic system doesn’t require any pumps to transport fluids, unlike our circulatory system. It always moves toward our hearts using inertia. However, we can also move it manually, and this is where laughter comes in.
Research shows that laughing can mimic the ideal diaphragmatic breathing. It makes a negative pressure intense enough to speed up the flow of lymphatic fluid by about 15 times the average flow rate. A faster flow of lymphatic fluid results in an increased number of lymphocytes. Consequently, increased lymphocytes in our blood system lead to better immunity for any disease.
Psychologist Annette Goodheart also explains, “Essentially, when we laugh, the body releases a ton of neurotransmitters and chemicals that stimulate our brain and immune systems. The sympathetic nervous system, too, is deadened, meaning we actually do get healthier. Natural endorphins are released, automatically relieving pain; beta-endorphins are a particular hormone involved in reducing pain levels.”
Stimulation of the lymphatic fluid happens through any muscular movement. But laughter still proves to be one of the best ways to achieve this. Plus, it also offers the least pain and the most enjoyment.
But aside from improving our immune system, laughter yoga can even help with our overall wellness. Laughing can engage our parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “happy hormones” we feel when we laugh. Once it is released, our stress level also goes down. A decrease in stress levels means that our body can resist bacterial infections better. With that also comes increased energy levels and an overall improved emotional state.
“Laughter yoga,” wrote Elizabeth Venart, LPC, “is a fun and uplifting wellness routine that combines playful laughter exercises with deep yoga breathing. The proven health benefits of laughter include reducing stress, improving mood, increasing cardiovascular health, and immune system functioning, providing pain relief, and helping people feel more relaxed.”
People who have religiously committed to laughter yoga find that their resistance to colds and viruses has significantly increased. Those who are previously prone to asthma have found that laughter yoga has helped improve their breathing capacity. You will enjoy the benefits of engaging in other physical activities without worrying about the shortness of breath or wheezing.
Laughter yoga has several benefits both to our mental and physical health. The lowered stress level it gives us is beneficial in strengthening our body’s defense mechanism against many diseases.
According to Dr. Nalin, PsyD, “Studies have revealed laugher has a powerful influence on our immune system, boosting our cells’ defenses against infection. When we laugh, certain brain neurochemicals, such as those responsible for our mood, are elevated, helping us attain a more positive state of mind.”
Aside from its health benefits, laughter yoga gives us a new perspective on meditation. It breaks the usual notion that meditation only involves silence and calmness. Through laughing, we go beyond the boundaries of traditional meditation, which may benefit more people in the long run.