Laughter Yoga has been clinically shown to be an effective practice for relieving symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. Chronic stress has long been known to lower the functioning of the immune system. A compromised immune system leaves an individual open to a variety of diseases and chronic health problems. Laughter Yoga practitioners claim that not only does Laughter Yoga lighten their mood, it also energizes them and boosts the functioning of their immune systems. Many of the “club” members also report a lower incidence of respiratory infections and a quicker recovery time if they do catch a cold. With a regular practice of Laughter Yoga, a participant can anticipate better mental and physical health as well as a more optimistic outlook on life.
The effects of a regular practice of Laughter Yoga have been studied in the United States, Austria and India. In all three countries, scientists found that Laughter Yoga lowers the blood levels of cortisol and adrenalin as well as other stress hormones. These stress hormones are great allies if you are under duress for a short period of time. They help to mobilize you to fight off an attacker or flee a dangerous situation. However, if your body is in a constant state of crisis, and you have elevated levels of cortisol and adrenalin all the time, these heightened hormonal levels eventually wear your body down and lower the functioning of your immune system. Laughter Yoga not only lowers these stress hormones, it also engenders a feeling of happiness and hope in the participants. This feeling of optimism staves off symptoms of depression that are underscored by a negative outlook on life with a permeating sense of hopelessness and helplessness.
Many regular Laughter Yoga participants also report a more resilient immune system. Some participant’s even experience a remission of chronic stress-related health conditions such as arthritis, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure and anxiety disorders. Many Laughter Yoga Clubs meet everyday in open-air public parks. A regular practice of laughter and pranayama exercises in a social context helps to alleviate boredom, isolation and increases circulation throughout the body. As new friendships are fostered among the participants, levels of anxiety, stress and depression also begin to drop. Some Laughter Yoga practitioners even report being able to completely wean themselves off prescription anti-depressants. Of course, before stopping any prescribed medication, it is advisable to check with your doctor. Laughter Yoga classes are free and run by volunteers.
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