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Iyengar, Bikram, And Now Would You Believe, 'Laughter Yoga'? It's Not A Joke!

(02/10/07) Dr. Madan Kataria, the medical doctor who has thousands of people laughing every day, is bringing laughter yoga to South Africa. Dr Kataria is the founder of Laughter Yoga, an exercise and health regimen that has spread to more than 50 countries in just ten years. Even corporations like Hewlett Packard have taken it up.

February 10, 2007 -- Johannesburg, South Africa -- Had a good laugh lately? Well you should, it's good for your health. All the research done to date on laughing has shown it to be beneficial to health and Dr. Madan Kataria, M.D. is in South Africa this month to spread more humor.

Dr. Kataria's latest creation is "Laughter Yoga". Not a newcomer to laughter therapy, he started the laughter club movement in 1995. The idea came to him while he was doing research into the medical benefits of laughter.

Laughter Yoga combines laughter with yogic breathing exercises to provide one-hour workout sessions that include 30 minutes of laughter. He also calls it 'instant yoga' as it purportedly provides results in days that can take years to achieve in other forms of yoga.

"Twenty minutes of hearty laughter is equivalent to 10 minutes on an exercise bike."
    -- Dr. Madan Kataria, M.D. Originator of Laughter Yoga

There are no yoga poses, no jokes, no punch lines. You don't even have to be happy to practice it, just put your head back and laugh out loud. As with yoga tradition, laughter yoga helps practitioners to stay in the present.

Unfortunately, without some form of facilitated laughter sessions, many adults would hardly laugh at all. "Children laugh 300-400 times a day during their important formative years, but adult laughter has reduced to just 5-10 times a day," says Kataria. "Laughter is one of our best defenses against the stress, and it is important that we find ways to laugh more to cope with stress and remain healthy in the modern world."
Laughter Yoga
Laugh it up. (above) People in an outdoor laughter yoga session.
He added, "Laughter yoga is a perfect way to laugh and get exercise at the same time. It approaches laughter as a body exercise so it's easy to laugh even if you're depressed or in a bad mood." Laughter Yoga is offered for free in more than 5,000 social laughter clubs around the world. It is now being offered commercially in yoga and fitness centers, aged care facilities, schools, hospitals, business and government offices.

Training and Certifications for Health Club Instructors

Even though it sounds pretty straight forward, there are actual classes for instructors to be trained and certified.

Health Benefits of Laughter

Hearty laughter provides an aerobic workout that exercises the heart, diaphragm, abdominal, intercostal, respiratory and facial muscles. Laughter yoga workouts include flexing and exercise of the arm, leg, and back muscles. The exercises strengthen facial muscles and reduce wrinkles leaving us looking younger.

Twenty minutes of hearty laughter is according to Kataria is equivalent to 10 minutes on an exercise bike.

Benefits of laughter include improved cardiovascular health and reduced blood pressure. Scientific studies show that laughter boosts our body's oxygen and energy levels and also boosts levels of immune cells that attack cancer, infection and virus.

Laughter releases endorphins, a natural pain killer that is responsible for the 'runner's high'. Laughter yoga sessions stimulate the lymphatic system and boost our immune system, and can reduce levels of stress poisons in our bodies by 50% or more within an hour.

Laughter is used in hospitals around the world to speed healing and improve patients mental outlook. It can be especially beneficial to cancer patients.

Laughter also improves our mental health. It can treat and often cure depression and improves our ability to cope with stress. Studies show that laughter boosts creativity and communication skills and also boosts our self confidence.

Laughter Yoga in the Workplace

Laughter yoga is also being introduced into the workplace by small and large companies and government departments around the world. The benefits include reduced stress levels, increased efficiency and team building, a happy atmosphere and reduced absenteeism.

It has been utilized at recognize corporations such as UBS Bank,Hewlett Packard, SAS Airlines, Volvo, and Glaxo.

Source: Laughter Yoga

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