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Most people think of yoga as a mindful form of exercise, or a silent meditative practice. On the other hand, if there ever were any noise, it would be from the continuous chanting. However, do you know that there is actually a practice that is boisterous in nature? Yes there is, and this comes in the form of laughter yoga. What Is Laughter Yoga? Laughter Yoga is a practice that employs the use of self-triggered laughter without the need for any external stimulation like comedy or humor. The practice involves unconditional laughter and breathing exercises or pranayama. Made popular by Indian doctor Madan Kataria, it simulates laughter as a body exercise. A session begins with childlike playfulness and eye contact among practitioners, and then forced laughter is simulated. The fake laughter always turns into real laughter, which is very contagious. Soon, the participants continue laughing for forty to fifty minutes, until the class or session is over. Why Laughter? Laughter has many beneficial effects to the body. Many researches and studies suggest that regular laughter is a good cathartic method that promotes release of emotions. It helps alleviate pain, strengthen the immune system, release stress and promotes positive changes in the emotions and the body. Many participants notice a change not just in emotions but in their overall health as well. Reports of relief from chronic medical conditions, reduction of common illnesses like colds and improvement of energy are mostly noted. People who join classes also report to being happier than before. More so, the body cannot actually distinguish between real and fake laughter, making simulated laughing during yoga just as effective as real laughs. Most of the time, cognitive thought or our intellectual systems act as brakes that stop or stifle natural laughter. Laughter yoga on the other hand, allows people to bypass cognitive thinking but still achieve hearty laughter. How Is It Done? Laughter yoga sessions are generally customized depending on the class or the group of people joining. Generally though, it may begin with gentle warm-up exercises like slow body movement, stretching, clapping of hands and chanting. This breaks down barriers and inhibitions and helps promote the feeling of childlike playfulness. Breathing exercises are also usually done to help strengthen and prepare the lungs. Then, a series of prolonged and unconditional laughter exercises are done, with breathing exercises done in between. Sessions may finish with a form of meditation where participants relax and allow natural laughter to flow out of them. Relaxation exercises and meditation is then sometimes along with laughter meditation. Is Laughter Yoga For Me? Unlike many forms of yoga that require physical exertion, laughter yoga is very easy to do. What makes it better is that many Laughter Social Clubs and Yoga Clubs are free for all. You can simply join a class without forms to fill and fees to pay. Laughter Clubs all over the world are run by Laughter Yoga International and are non-profit, non-sectarian, non-political and non-religious in nature. Their only goal of laughter yoga is to promote laughter and through it, bring joy, good health and world peace.
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