I admit to being skeptical about “laughter yoga” before I tried it. I worried it might require pretzel-like poses I’m unable to perform even on a good day. Or someone would tell bad jokes I didn’t find funny — especially on a day when I was feeling low. Or, even worse, I would be expected to be funny. Most days it’s a struggle to be present, never mind funny.
Then I remembered feeling better when I laughed, and I decided to find out why. From research done by the late William Fry, MD, of Stanford University, I learned that laughter increases endorphins, the feel-good hormones. It also decreases cortisol, the stress hormone. Most importantly, it deepens respirations. Taking deeper breaths strengthens the immune system and provides a true aerobic workout. Fry claimed that one minute of hearty laughter was the cardio equivalent of 10 minutes of jogging or rowing. That sounded almost too good to be true for someone like me who is often too sore or too fatigued to exercise. I decided to give laughter yoga a try.
On arrival, I joined other participants sitting on chairs in a circle. We were instructed to pretend we were in a serious place where silence is expected, like a religious service or a chamber music concert. Suddenly a word or sight reminds us of something hysterically funny. It had the desired effect. Someone snickered. It spread. Snickers became giggles. Soon everyone was affected. I, too, struggled to hold back audible laughter. It couldn’t be done. Then everyone was laughing. It is contagious after all!
The harder we laughed, the funnier it became. Hilarity filled the room and continued for several minutes. Gradually the laughter receded to giggles, then to snickers. Finally, there was silence once more. Everyone sat back, tired and happy. We had just completed an exercise known as gradient laughter — one of many such techniques used in laughter yoga groups.
Laughter yoga was developed by an Indian physician named Madan Kataria. Sharing Norman Cousins‘ (author of Anatomy of an Illness) belief that laughter is the best medicine, Kataria went to a public park near his home in Mumbai and invited people to laugh with him. Only four people would join him that first day in 1995. But by the end of the week, he had nearly 20 people laughing daily. An article in a local newspaper spread the word. Today, laughter yoga groups are found worldwide. Led by certified laughter yoga instructors, they typically meet for hour-long sessions at nonprofit facilities, on beaches, or in other public places. Each session has a physical component that might include deep breathing, stretching, or balancing techniques as well as very simple yoga postures. Laughter “exercises” like the one described above are the main focus. Each session concludes with a calming meditation.
Laughter yoga is truly for everyone. There’s no need to be jolly or to be an easy laugher. The brain doesn’t know the difference between real laughter and a hearty, but sincere, “ho, ho, ho.” Pretending to laugh reaps the very same benefits as actually laughing does.
Laughter yoga is non-religious and non-political. It costs nothing, although voluntary donations may be accepted to benefit the hosting facility if there is one. Everyone is welcome. The group I attended had participants of many ages and physical abilities. Some could and did walk miles each day, others were confined to wheelchairs.
The benefits I received from this activity (like decreased pain and improved mood) were so significant that I tried to duplicate it at home. It sounded simple enough. I found an appropriate YouTube video and tried to laugh along. That experiment was a complete failure. The truth is that there is no substitute for live, smiling faces and the inspiration of other people laughing around you. Although disappointed, I realized that being in a group was a benefit in and of itself, especially for fibro people. Our illness often isolates us. Laughter yoga helps with that, too.
A weekly laughter session is an opportunity for positive human interaction that may be missing from our lives. I can think of no possible downside from trying this somewhat unusual activity. For fibro people, it’s the perfect feel-good medication with no side effects.
Laughter truly is the best medicine when it comes to keeping us feeling physically, mentally and emotionally young as we age. Use Laughter Yoga as an exercise and laugh through life.
LAUGH FOR NO REASON
“I didn’t always have the ability to laugh at myself,” says Cynthia Curtis, who about learned Laughter Yoga four years ago and has since become a laughter leader and teacher. “There was nothing to laugh about while taking care of my elderly mother in FL, away from husband and home. Then I tried Laughter Yoga exercises and I became happier about my situation. Now, I’m a daily laughter. I practice laughing, every day for 20 minutes.”
LAUGH BECAUSE IT FEELS GOOD
While doing Laughter Yoga you don’t need humor. You just laugh as a form of exercise. Laughing without jokes, laughing at nothing, makes it so much easier to handle life’s difficult times. You will laugh. It’s like you’re primed to always laugh through life.
DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY
Worried that folks will think your laugh is loud, nasally or cackling? That is why Laughter Clubs were created. The Funny Farm Laughter Club is a safe place to laugh out loud. Your laugh is part of your identity and self-esteem, and it’s essential to who you are, Express your joy and happiness with laughter.
Release your inner child. Come out and play. Give yourself permission leave stress behind, for one-hour. Become more joyful. Laugh just because you can. Laughter Yoga shows you how.
TAKE YOURSELF LIGHTLY
It’s easy to laugh when times are good. Learn to laugh as exercise and you will laugh at life’s challenges, too. Become more resilient to troubles. Laughter produces endorphins, so you can handle troubles in a creative, loving, compassionate way, instead of with fear and loathing. Laughter is a good exercise for the heart and lungs and the pelvic floor. The lymph system keeps all the organs in the body healthy. Laughing moves the diaphragm and that stimulates the lymph system. There are no bad side effects to mirthful laughter. There is no medicine in laughter but laughter is good medicine.
LAUGHTER YOGA IS EXERCISE
Burn calories with a smile to your face, without strain or pain. No special equipment is needed. Everyone knows how to laugh so no experience is necessary. Do Laughter Yoga and friendships form.
LAUGHTER IS FREE AND AVAILABLE 24/7
Laughter is too important to leave it to chance. There may be nothing to laugh at, yet you need to laugh. Learn to laugh for no reason and change your life for the better. Laughter is contagious so friends and family will catch your joy. See the difference Laughter Yoga can make in your life.
The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter. Mark Twain
LAUGH YOURSELF HAPPY
Do you want to bring more happiness into your life? Try Laughter Yoga at the Funny Farm Laughter Club in Phillipsburg NJ, every Saturday at 10 AM starting July 15, 2017. It is free for all to join. Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher, Cynthia Curtis, just back from teacher training in Frankfurt Germany, leads the one-hour session.
HEALTH, HAPPINESS AND WORLD PEACE THROUGH LAUGHTER
Laughter Yoga is a unique exercise routine where anyone can laugh for no reason without jokes or comedy. The practice involves prolonged voluntary laughter along with the deep breathing technique that originates in Pranayama Yoga. Anyone can laugh for exercise. Do it standing or sitting. Equipment or previous experience is unnecessary. Laughter Yoga is a gentle, cardiovascular workout that burns calories as it improves lung and heart function. Laughter strengthens the immune system, lowers stress levels, relaxes muscles, relieves pain, eases anxiety and enhances resilience. When people laugh together friendships form. And, Laughter Yoga sends more oxygen to the body and brain. Consequently, there is an increase in positive energy that makes it easy to cope with the stress of daily life. Laughter Yoga practice fosters a positive and hopeful attitude. It is less likely for a person to succumb to stress and feelings of depression and helplessness if they are able to laugh at troubles. It’s easy to laugh when times are good. At the Funny Farm, we learn to laugh through life’s challenges, therefore, providings strength in adversity, a coping mechanism, to help us keep a positive attitude regardless of circumstances. Many laughter yoga club members proudly report that, as a result, their lives are transformed for the better.
LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE
There is a lot of medicine in laughter and it doesn’t matter if laughter is real or pretend. You get the same proven benefits. Clinical research on Laughter Yoga methods, conducted in Austria, India, and in the United States show that Laughter lowers the level of stress hormones (epinephrine, cortisol, etc.) in the blood and increases levels of feel-good chemicals (endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, etc.)
BE A GUEST OF THE FARM
The Funny Farm Laughter Club meets at the old stone house at Perfect Christmas Tree Farm, 999 US H’way 22 in Phillipsburg NJ at 10 AM. Refeshments are served. Please be on time. For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/funnyfarmlaughterclub;
or contact Cynthia Curtis at 908-763-1945/908-387-1225.
Laughter Yoga is a series of mild cardio exercises, voluntarily done sitting or standing, with the express purpose of inducing laughter. To understand the dynamics of such a session, please try one. It takes only 20 minutes, needs no experience or equipment and its always free. Come to Perfect Christmas Tree Farm, on every Sunday at 7:00 PM, NOW, until June 11, 2017.
By breathing gently and doing playful exercises, we soon reach crescendos of excited belly laughter. No tricks, no tickling, no alcohol and no jokes. The laughter comes straight from the heart as pure joy. We go to the gym for physical exercise, but a Laughter Yoga session is a gym of the soul. 😊 Laughter Yoga is nonpolitical, nonreligious, non-racial, non-threatening and non-competitive.
Laughter is the easiest form of meditation. It brings instant relaxation in a pleasant way. Dr. Lee Berk of California labels laughter as a state of eustress, which in psychological terms, is the opposite of distress. Specifically, his research concludes that laughter:
Benefit of Laughter Yoga 😊
• Increases the secretion of immunoglobulin A which helps protect against respiratory tract infections and strengthens the immune system.
• Increases gamma interferon – the immune system’s frontline defense against viruses.
• Increases B cells that produce antibodies directly against harmful bacteria.
• Increases complement 2, a combination of proteins that acts as a catalyst in antibody reactions.
• The act of laughter instantly lowers blood pressure for hypertensive persons, stimulates the brain, expands and enriches the blood vessels with oxygen, and sends more blood racing to the extremities.
• Laughter vastly reduces levels of the stress hormones epinephrine & cortisol in the body and instantly relieves stress, tension, and depression. Conversely, the happiness hormone oxytocin level is enhanced which triggers a spike in immune-boosting antibodies.
• Sustained laughter gradually increases the levels of cytokine in the blood – a white blood cell enhancer which builds antibodies and helps prevent illnesses.
• Laughter increases the levels of endorphins in the body –natural pain killers which greatly help in coping with the suffering from arthritis, spondylitis, migraine and muscular spasms, and all aches and pains.
• Laughter causes the tissue of blood vessels – endothelium – to expand and therefore increase blood flow – exactly what aerobic exercise does. During mirthful laughter, the joy-inducing chemical neuropeptide is released into the body, something cancer patients are prescribed at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars per shot. Finally, the chemical opioid which produces the obvious calming effect associated with its name, and also enhances the immune system.
• Laughter is a form of internal jogging and provides the same health benefits as any aerobic exercise by stimulating the heart and blood circulation. Laughter burns up to 400 calories per hour!
• Laughter increases lung capacity and therefore promotes the body’s ability to store oxygen. That helps us stay young and disease-free. This is good news for asthma and bronchitis patients. A daily dose of laughter is anti-ageing and beats any pill on the market.
😎 A recent study at Stanford concludes that laughter stimulates the parts of our brain that use the “feel good” chemical messenger dopamine. This puts laughter into the “necessary” category of activities that are pleasurably addictive, and more so in the myriads of health benefits that accrue. Perhaps even more important than the physical health benefits of laughter are the mental and emotional benefits, with the following results within easy reach:
• Vastly reduces mental and physical stress, anxiety and depression
• Enhances emotional intelligence (EQ), creativity and peak performance
• Enhances communication and teamwork, improves leadership skills
• Improves attitude, mood and self-esteem
• Clears negativity and develops personality and confidence
• Builds tolerance to connect people, fostering greater cooperation and harmony
• Replaces negativity with hope & optimism, enabling love, peace, joy and happiness
• Increases energy levels and productivity
• When we laugh, we exercise 15 muscles facial muscles which turn our faces pink with a happier glow – beats any cosmetic in replacing wrinkles and worry lines with the laugh lines of youth!
One of the best ways to lighten up is to laugh and release yourself from fear’s grip. Laughter instantly raises your energy, heals you and clears away negativity, confusion and mind chatter. Literally, it chases the devil away which is illusion, distortion, and confusion and instead re-energises you to lose your ego and merge with the divine.
Above all, laughter is “the shortest distance between two people” and improves interpersonal relationships. It removes your inhibitions, develops your personality and enhances your leadership qualities.
Join the Laughter Yoga adventure to happiness and good health. Laughter Yoga is a mind/body experience. Learn to laugh because you can to be happier and healthier. Make laughter your exercise of choice. Laughter is a mild cardio exercise that needs no special equipment and anyone can do sitting or standing. Laughing costs no money, it is not invasive and it has good side effects.
Join the fun at the Funny Farm Laughter Club Sundays at 7 PM
May 14, 21 & 28
and June 4 & 11
Maybe laughter really is the best medicine? Try. See if it is the best medicine for you.
Funny Farm Laughter Club meets at Perfect Christmas Tree Farm, 999 US H’way 22, Phillipsburg NJ 08865. Telephone: 908-763-1945
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Celebrate World Laughter Day, May 7, 2017, anytime from sunrise to sunset at the Funny Farm Laughter Club.
World Laughter Day is a free community event created in 1998 by Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of the worldwide Laughter Yoga movement. Now it is celebrated in all the major capitals of the world and in cities large and small. For the 3rd year, Perfect Christmas Tree Farm in Phillipsburg NJ is hosting the Celebration of World Laughter Day.
The aim is to promote intentional laughter as a way toward World Peace. It is possible to build a global consciousness of brotherhood and friendship through laughter. Laughter works because it is the universal language of friendship and because laughter is contagious. The celebration of World Laughter Day is a positive manifestation for World Peace.
Join us. Come play. Meet new people. Lose your inhibitions. Liberate your laughter. No experience necessary. No equipment required. Not limited by age, ability or nationality. Laughter is free for everyone.
Try Laughter Yoga at Sunrise at 5:45 AM, before lunch at 12 Noon and at Sunset at 8 PM.
Spend some of Sunday, May 7 at the Funny Farm. Socialize, revitalize and exercise. Discover a new happiness workout, meet our community and promote World Peace. All are welcome.
The Perfect Christmas Tree Farm, 999 US 22, Phillipsburg NJ 08865, hosts the Funny Farm Laughter Club and the plans for simple Spring pleasures: Laughter Yoga, a drum circle, hay rides, seed bomb making, refreshments. We are a pet-friendly farm.
Questions: contact Cynthia Curtis. 908-763-1945 by voice or text.
On Mon, Jan. 9, at the Phillipsburg Free Public Library, Certified Laughter Yoga Leader, Cynthia Curtis leads an hour-long session starting at 3 PM. After some basic breathing exercises followed by childlike play activities, contagious, infectious laughter spreads. For 21 years Laughter yoga, a simple yet profound whole-body exercise method, has been moving the world toward health, happiness, and peace.
Laughter Yoga is designed for anyone who wants to feel good. It is based on the scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between voluntary and involuntary laughter. A person gets the same physiological and psychological benefits if the laughter is real or fake.
Laughter helps to change your mood by releasing feel-good endorphins into the blood. Laughter is a healthy cardio exercise that beats stress. Laughter is a positive energy. If you laugh more you attract more friends. Anyone can laugh for no reason without relying on humor or comedy without special equipment or advanced training, available free, 24/7. Start now and become a ‘Daily Laugher.’ Join a worldwide peace movement started by an Indian Physician Madan Kataria and his yoga teacher, wife, Madhuri.