Laughter and its health benefits

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The known health benefits of laughter is a list that continues to grow as this surging area of scientific research flourishes. Researchers from all over the world have reported seeing improvements in depression, sleep, anxiety, stress levels and even pain as a result of laughter therapy.

And it’s an idea that’s catching on.

Laughter Yoga is perhaps one of the most well-known forms of laughter therapy and now has more than 10,000 clubs worldwide. Far from having a good old chuckle while in downward-facing dog, Laughter Yoga focusses on laughter and breathing exercises that you try in groups.  

“A lot of people who try Laughter Yoga feel a little bit self-conscious to begin with,” explains Lotte Mikkelsen, a master trainer of Laughter Yoga. “But after a few exercises, people really get into it.

“When we really connect to laughter, you can’t help but breathe deeper. This, in turn, lowers our stress levels and boosts our mood.”

Learning to laugh

Laughter Yoga is based on the idea that you make yourself laugh, rather than having to rely on other stimuli like comedians, funny video clips or amusing colleagues. What’s more, the added benefit of being in a group can alleviate any feelings of loneliness, boosting your mood further.

“I think with traditional yoga, people go for the calm and mindfulness, but it’s quite easy to become focused with what’s in your own head,” explains Lotte. “But when you’re laughing, you literally can’t think of anything else – not your shopping list or what’s going on at work. It’s a great way to release and let go.”

Still not sure? Give these exercises a go tomorrow morning and see if you can boost your mood.

Lotte’s laughing exercises

  • Start the day with a smile. “Begin each morning with a stretch – it’s a great way to get the blood circulating after lying down for so long. And don’t forget to stretch your lips upwards into a smile!”
  • Give yourself a thumbs up. “When you head into the bathroom, give yourself a little thumbs up in the mirror and chuckle. It doesn’t have to be a real laugh to begin with, but your body doesn’t know that. Before too long, you’ll be laughing for real.”

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