A giggle a day keeps the stress away- ‘Laughter Yoga’ helps people to cope with stress and anxiety in these times of uncertainty

May 9, 2021, 6:07 p.m.

By:Reshma Jain

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour,” once quoted Charles Dickens. Yes, coronavirus is contagious. Hence, as a part of the battle, we too have a weapon which can be contagious and can help us overcome a tiny virus. And this weapon is something that all of us are gifted with, it is cheap and is the best medicine. You guessed it right- it’s ‘Laughter’.

At a time when most of us feel creeped out, it is important to mitigate stress to maintain a healthy mindset. It has always been said that ‘Laughter is the best medicine’ and it holds true even now as most of us are reeling under an unprecedented crisis. Before we get into how laughter can help you cope with stress, let’s have a look at the scientifically proven benefits of laughter.

According to researchers and studies, a daily dose of laughter helps in boosting your immune system, increases endorphins to your brain, thereby combats stress. When an individual is stressed, negative thoughts can turn into chemical reactions that decrease one’s immunity to sickness. And the Covid pandemic demands our immune system to be strong which would help combating the virus. Hence, doctors across the world have been encouraging people to maintain good immunity levels to battle the deadly virus.

When you laugh, you adopt a positive mindset that can release infection-fighting antibodies and neuropeptides that help fight stress. Laughter releases endorphins that counteract the negative effects of stress hormones – as a result lowering your blood pressure. And the most important point while most of the covid patients gasp for oxygen, laughter is said to increase one’s heart rate and thereby improves vascular function.

Socio Story brings to you an interesting read on ‘Laughter Yoga’ and how tickling your funny bones help in beating stress and staying positive while there is negativity all around. Founder of Laughter Yoga Dr Madan Kataria speaks to us on how he has been helping people during the crisis.

When life as a practising doctor was very stressful to live, Dr Madan Kataria, a medical doctor from Mumbai, started to look at various options to de-stress himself. He went through a lot of books and read a series of articles on stress management and while he tried a few, he found that laughter is one of the best therapies to beat away stress. He said that he found the word ‘laughter’ only in theories but not in practice. Hence, he started the ‘Laughter Yoga International’ to make people laugh and enable them to live a healthier life, both physically and mentally.

While sharing his journey from a Doctor to the ‘Guru of Giggling’, Dr Kataria, 65, said that there are numerous benefits of laughter yoga. A few of them include creating a good mood, a form of healthy exercise to beat stress, health benefits as it reduces stress, improvement of quality of life and helps in creating a positive attitude in challenging times.

Dr Kataria who is now organising free virtual sessions ‘Laughter yoga’ thrice a week on Zoom, said, “Ever since the pandemic hit India, stress, anxiety, depression had become common among people. We realised there needs to be a way out for this, hence we started the virtual sessions. Our sessions have received a tremendous response not only from India but the other countries as well.”

“The second wave of the pandemic has made it more difficult to cope with life. One simple thing that we need to understand is the best exercise for lungs is laughter (You laugh harder and you will experience yourself :D). Laughter combined with long deep breathing exercises for around 15 minutes a day can keep your lungs oxygenated,” added Dr Kataria while making me practise the exercise.  

Dr Madan Kataria who is the founder of Laughter yoga club’s movement that started in 1995 and has rapidly spread in USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, China, the middle East, South East Asia and Africa, said, “Yoga combined with laughter is one of the best medicines to keep oneself healthy. Laughing for 10-15 minutes a day releases endorphin which brings physiological and biochemical changes in the body. More than 50% of any chronic disease can be cured by laughter yoga. It is a form of healing therapy that has been researched extensively and adopted by many hospitals worldwide.”

Dr Kataria shares that we have come to a stage when people need to be reminded to laugh, thanks to technology and fast life. To ensure that people make laughing a part of their daily routine, yoga sessions are conducted by him and his wife Madhuri Kataria. Participants are engaged in practicing the famous laughter exercises worldwide: greeting laugh, milkshake laugh, silent laugh, lion or yogic laugh, silent laugh, selfie laugh, argument laugh and one minute laughter for world peace.

“It has been proven that real laughter and laughter in the form of exercise have the same benefits. It is the best medicine available with all of us with no cost and loads of benefits. It’s time to make use of it by experiencing it,” concluded Dr Kataria stating that the World Laughter Day was observed on May 2 and there has been a tremendous response by covid survivors, warriors, frontline workers and other people.

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