By: Helene Hendon, CYT
(Helene teaches the Yoga for Men with Cancer at the Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support.)
Have you allowed yourself to laugh today? Scientific research is supporting the age-old wisdom that laughter is the best medicine. Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of the research is that fake laughter is as effective as real laughter. We can become proactive laughers, not relying on others or on external events. Go ahead, allow yourself a few fake giggles or chuckles! The more we laugh the easier it becomes and the more we feel inclined to laugh.
How Laughter Helps Your Health
Laughter, real or fake, is very beneficial. It increases oxygenation, releases endorphins, reduces cortisol and adrenaline, and produces regulatory T-cells. In other words, laughter reduces stress, improves mood, mental clarity and creativity, stimulates the relaxation response and supports the immune system. After prolonged laughter, endorphins, combined with an increase in oxygenation, shift the body’s physiology resulting in a positive mood change. As the laughter subsides, a peaceful, relaxed, and mentally alert state arises.
There are many ways to increase the amount of laughter in our lives. One way is through Laugh-A-Yoga. Typically in a Laugh-A-Yoga class, one participates in laughing games, while seated, standing and/or lying down, a meditation on laughter and finally a deep relaxation at the end. The class emphasizes the power of the fake laugh, supports the “fake it ‘til you make it” mindset and recognizes the “flip-flop-flip” principle of moving back and forth through real and fake laughter.
For more information on Laughter Yoga, you may want to read an article in the Hektoen International, a Journal of Medical Humanities.