Acer Ecology took advantage of a great opportunity to demonstrate the practice of Laughter Yoga for personal wellbeing for Made In Cardiff TV. Blue Monday is known as possibly the most depressing day of the year and Made In Cardiff TV wanted to cheer up its viewers by presenting this simple, but, as yet, not commonly known fun-to-do practice.
But firstly, what is Laughter Yoga?
Laughter Yoga is a unique concept created in 1995 in Mumbai, India, by a medical doctor, Madan Kataria, and his wife Madhuri Kataria, a yoga teacher. Madan Kataria was exploring the benefits of laughter on the body and mind. He gathered together a group of people with whom to laugh. Initially, they began by telling jokes to each other in order to initiate the laughter, but this approach soon lost its appeal and the people no longer wanted to participate. This inspired Madan Kataria to come up with a brilliant idea – to laugh for no reason! He took simple everyday activities, added in a laughter element and coupled them to deep yogic breathing. These activities/exercises ranged from getting up in the morning and brushing one’s teeth or taking a shower, to flying in an airplane, answering telephone calls, being shocked by static electricity, cooking food, borrowing books in the library and the list goes on and on; people devise new exercises daily. The range is only bounded by the limits of people’s imaginations!
It has been scientifically proven that the body does not recognise a difference between fake and real laughter. Even if people are not keen to laugh for real, they still reap the benefits of real laughter by simulating it! By laughing and interspersing it with deep breathing, the body receives more oxygen and therefore feels more energised and healthy. By laughing 10 to 15 minutes a day at a time, the body undergoes measurable changes by producing the “happy hormones” (serotonin, dopamine, endorphins), muscle relaxation, lower blood pressure, increased oxygen levels and improved blood circulation. The laughter needs to be deep belly laughing coming from the diaphragm; another beneficial effect is that it massages the internal organs. In order for people to be able to laugh without any social embarrassment, over 16,000 clubs have been formed in 72 countries all over the world. People gather together to laugh and they enjoy themselves. Laughter becomes infectious, feels good and new friendships are formed easily as interpersonal barriers break down.
Laughter Yoga can be used at any time during the day; in the morning before we go to work, during lunch time, on holiday with our family, with our friends etc. It has a great bonding effect, it is a fun form of exercise, it increases personal productivity and the mental well-being of people. In the long term it is hoped that this type of laughter activity will spread and people will not need to go to laughter clubs in order to be able to laugh extensively.
Acer Ecology is an example, where laughter is no longer left to chance but seen as a valuable developmental activity. The laughter session for Made In Cardiff TV can be viewed in the video below. We hope that other organisations will take up the challenge and help improve the well-being of their employees by incorporating laughter into their team building and other activities.
If anyone would like to join a regular laughter club in Cardiff, there are ongoing drop in sessions every Tuesday at the Llandaff North Community Centre starting at 7:15pm and lasting about an hour. The cost of each session is £5 and everyone is welcome to, at least, give it a try!