Yes, laughter yoga is a thing – and it’s the perfect workout for body and mind.
From hot yoga to goat yoga, classes have become experimental and far from the ordinary, with innovative new concepts popping up at our gyms and wellness centres across the country.
Practising yoga is a well-known form of physical therapy, and as the old age saying goes ‘laughing is the best form of therapy.’ So what happens when you fuse those two together?
When was laughter yoga founded?
That question played on the mind of medical doctor Madan Kataria in March 1995 in Mumbai, India, when he wrote an article for a health magazine about the benefits of laughter.
He decided to test it out and soon, laughter yoga was born. Since then, wellness experts have raved about the practice, with laughter yoga master trainer Lotte Mikkelsen telling us that it can ‘help with life’s ups and downs.’
Laughter yoga: the verdict
On the same week as Blue Monday (the third Monday of January, which is considered to be the most depressing day of the year), ultra low alcohol cocktail brand Atopia were offering free laughter yoga classes at Benk and Bo café and yoga studio in London – washed down with a delicious mocktail.
We went along to see if laughter yoga truly works or if it is really, all just a bit of a joke.
Standing in a circle, we’re told to introduce ourselves to each other. However, we’re not allowed to speak. Instead, we shake a strangers’ hand while laughing in their face, before having a dance with them hand-in-hand.
After a few quirky activities – laughing while pretending to be on the phone, giggling at a pretend bill and hooting as we pretend to rev up a lawn mower – there were relaxing breathing exercises.
For the last part of the session, we were told to lie in a circle with our heads towards the middle.
Lotte said: ‘When we pretend to laugh in the exercise it often leads to real contagious laughter very quickly.’
And she was right. We couldn’t stop! Within minutes, we were all literally crying and honking with hysterical laughter. I’d never been in such a merry environment on a Monday morning.
Laughter yoga master trainer Lotte Mikkelsen told us: ‘When you laugh, you lift your mood within minutes.
‘This is because endorphins – or happy hormones – are being released from your brain. The endorphins have also shown to lower stress hormones like cortisol, so when we lower stress we become more able to fight off illness because our immune system works better with less stress.
‘When we laugh we take in more fresh air which goes to vital organs and to the brain and leaves us alert, motivated, productive and refreshed. Laughter connects us with people in a more caring and less judgmental way so it has a great impact on our relationships in life.’
Lotte recommends practicing laughing yoga daily. To find out more about Lotte’s classes, click here to visit her website.
To find out more about Atopia’s laughter yoga sessions and their ultra low alcohol beverages, click here.
Laughter yoga is certainly not for the cringe-easy but walking out of the session, there’s no doubt you’ll have a spring in your step and a smile on your face.