The study of you, Happy. It's your Journey.

The Research: Benefits of Laughter Yoga

A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.

-William Arthur Ward

I gave a half smile to my partner as I hit the play button to begin my introduction to laughter yoga. As the video starts I am reminded of the feeling at camps growing up, where staff are doing games and activities to get you out of your comfort zone. One could always do a glance around the room and see who was going to immerse have a great time, and who was going to be a wallflower. With this in mind, I took a deep breath and dove right in.

Laughter yoga is an ancient method in which there is a combination of unconditional laughter with yoga breathing exercises. (1) Fun fact: the body does not realize the difference between organic vs. artificial laughter. Science shows the physiologic and mental benefits are the same. Laughter yoga can is a risk-free effective strategy to promote overall general health from physical function to psychosocial satisfaction. The benefits of laughter yoga can be enjoyed by anyone and studies have shown its positive effects from stressed pandemic nursing students to those suffering from COPD or undergoing chemotherapy.

“Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.” – Walt Disney

I am quickly surprised at how whimsical the practice is. I find myself grinning ear to ear as our fake laughs turn into real giggles. My partner smirks at me as she points out I have the opposite leg extended and arm forward than I am supposed to, and we simply laugh at it. With the hustle, bustle, and flow of our busy and frankly sometimes too serious lives; we forget it’s okay to laugh at ourselves. By the end of the practice, I feel lighter, like my body took a breath of fresh air.

"The highest state is laughter.”

– Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

The benefits of laughter yoga can be felt throughout the system. There is an immediate effect of increased blood flow, improving oxygen saturation to the brain and body, accompanied by a surge of endorphins. (2) Those endorphins improve our mood, boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, and even reduce pain. (x) Studies show the effectiveness of laughter yoga on improved physical function (blood pressure, cortisol level, sleep quality) and psychosocial health (life satisfaction, quality of life, loneliness, death anxiety, depression, mood, happiness) (3) The greatest result may be found in decreased levels of stress as cortisol levels may be reduced by up to 32%. (4) In addition, laughter results in increased production of oxytocin, the love hormone. Oxytocin makes people happier and more trusting, so laughter breeds joy and deeper connection in social settings.

The laughter aside, I did not realize how tight I was before getting on the mat. I was holding points of stress and tightness from the day before. I was also surprised to find myself feeling rejuvenated after a practice that was less than 10 minutes. This a reminder that you don’t need to commit an extended period of time to make a positive impact on yourself.

If you’re in a good mood show it, if you’re in a bad mood shift. As always it’s called a practice for a reason. Fake laughter becomes infectious laughter, and practice becomes a habit. If you put laughter out into the world to share, you never know who will soak it up. Someone in a dark place may turn over from your spiritual spatula. As they say, fake it until you make it. Laughter is the best medicine, right? So what are you waiting for, a prescription? Take a sip of laughter yoga with a smile; anytime, anywhere.

Scientific Research — 1

The effect of laughter Yoga on general health among nursing students

Source

Yazdani M, Esmaeilzadeh M, Pahlavanzadeh S, Khaledi F. The effect of laughter Yoga on general health among nursing students. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2014 Jan;19(1):36-40. PMID: 24554958; PMCID: PMC3917183.

Background

Promotion and provision of individuals’ health is one of the bases for development in societies. Students’ mental health is very important in each society. Students of medical sciences universities, especially nursing students, are under various stresses in clinical environment, in addition to the stress they experience in theoretical education environment. With regard to the importance of nursing students’ general health and considering the various existing strategies to promote general health components, use of complementary treatments is more considered because of their better public acceptance, low costs, and fewer complications. One of the new strategies in this regard is laughter Yoga. The present study was conducted with an aim to define the effect of laughter Yoga on general health among nursing students.

Conclusion

The findings showed that laughter Yoga had a positive effect on students’ general health and improved the signs of physical and sleep disorders, lowered anxiety and depression, and promoted their social function. Therefore, laughter Yoga can be used as one of the effective strategies on students’ general health.

Scientific Research — 2

Laughter Yoga: Benefits of Mixing Laughter and Yoga

Source

Woodbury-Fariña and Schwabe, J Yoga Phys Ther 2015, 5:4

Conclusion

In most medical practices, there is the complaint that it is too difficult to set a time aside for yoga and a good laugh. Those that do, obtain definite benefit. Yoga, for instance, has been shown to improve depression. Yoga and humor both increase oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, which is now being tied to diverse benefits such as enhancing immune responses as well as improving cognition deficits in schizophrenia. Now there is even evidence that there is a link between our gut microbes and oxytocin, with each enhancing each other. Living a non-stressful life helps to promote beneficial gut microbes which then can stimulate the oxytocin to generate a state of positive homeostasis on the body which in turn gives a “Nurturing” feedback to maintain the beneficial bacteria. The gut to oxytocin relationship was proven to be via the vagus nerve in elegant experiments in mice using lactobacillus reuteri. Oxytocin and the gut microbes need to act in unison in order to see the maximum benefit, here in wound healing. The cycle is interrupted when we are under stress or eating unhealthily. The implication is that we need to see that our beneficial bacteria receive beneficial probiotics so that they are able to send positive oxytocin stimulating signals via the vagus nerve. In order to offset the negative influences of stress on the gut bacteria, we need to cultivate oxytocin promoting interventions that can result in a positive oxytocin feedback to these bacteria. Humor and yoga can both do so, especially when they meet as in laughter yoga.

Scientific Research — 3

A systematic review of the effect of laughter yoga on physical function and psychosocial outcomes in older adults

Source

Nilgün Kuru Alici, Ayse Arikan Dönmez, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice,
Volume 41,
2020,

Background

Laughter yoga is one of the increasingly used methods among complementary health approaches in the world. The aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of laughter yoga on physical function and psychosocial outcomes in older adults.

Conclusion

Laughter yoga is a cost-effective and no adverse effect in older adults. It can be used for health promotion for older adults.
Keywords: Blood pressure; Depression; Happiness; Laughter therapy; Life satisfaction; Loneliness; Older adults; Quality of life.

Scientific Research — 4

Laughter as medicine: A systematic review and meta-analysis of interventional studies evaluating the impact of spontaneous laughter on cortisol levels

Source

Nilgün Kuru Alici, Ayse Arikan Dönmez, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice,
Volume 41,
2020,

Background

Laughter as an expression of humor has been recognized as good medicine for centuries. The health benefits of humor-induced well-being remain unclear and thus we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of interventional studies to evaluate the impact of spontaneous laughter on stress response as measured by cortisol levels.

Conclusion

Current evidence demonstrates that spontaneous laughter is associated with greater reduction in cortisol levels as compared with usual activities, suggesting laughter as a potential adjunctive medical therapy to improve well-being.

Scientific Research — 5

The effect of laughter therapy on nursing students’ anxiety, satisfaction with life, and psychological well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic: Randomized controlled study.

Source

Advances in integrative medicine [Adv Integr Med] 2022 Sep; Vol. 9 (3), pp. 173-179. Date of Electronic Publication: 2022 Jun 24.

Background

Changes in routine due to the pandemic have increased nursing students‘ anxiety about clinical learning. The inadequacy experienced before graduation caused them to experience high levels of anxiety characterized by feelings of insecurity and unhappiness and negatively affected their life satisfaction. Methodological studies are needed to confirm the efficacy of laughter therapy, which is effective in reducing anxiety and stress, on the online platform.

Conclusion

The study reveals that online laughter therapy significantly positively affects nursing students‘ anxiety, life satisfaction, and psychological well-being.

Competing Interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Scientific Research — 6

The Effect of Laughter Yoga on the Psychological Resilience and Sleep Quality of Nurses During the Pandemic: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

Source

Alternative therapies in health and medicine [Altern Ther Health Med] 2023 Apr 07. Date of Electronic Publication: 2023 Apr 07.

Background

During the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses frequently experienced psychological health problems such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and stress. These problems have reduced the psychological health of nurses.

Primary Objective

This study aims to reveal the effect of laughter yoga on the psychological resilience and sleep quality of nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results

Laughter yoga significantly improved the resilience levels and sleep quality of the experimental group (P < .05).

Conclusion

Laughter yoga can be used to improve the resilience and sleep quality of nurses.