WHAT IS LAUGHTER YOGA AND WHY DO WE PRACTICE IT? THE HISTORY AND HEALTH BENEFITS, by Lainie Diamond

I started doing Laughter Yoga early in 2008 in New York City. One day I was inspired and led to Laughter Yoga via research I was doing online. I understood more and more that people sometimes take themselves and things too seriously in life- in a negative way. This is not good for our health and we know that it causes health problems. As people age, we can become stressed out, lose our sense of humor and perspective, and thus rarely laugh. This happens because of a myriad of personal reasons. Sadly, people are sometimes afraid that if they are joyous and laugh, they will not be taken seriously. All human beings have the right to joy no matter what happens in life. Laughter=Joy. This is very important to both our physiological and psychological health. They go hand in hand.

The good news is: Laughter Yoga can teach people how to laugh-how to breathe- and to have more joy and health in their lives.

**It is very important to know that Laughter Yoga is for people of all professions, abilities, cultural backgrounds, faiths, and special needs. It is for all people.**

LAUGHTER YOGA IS BREATHING BASED MOVEMENT EXERCISES practiced for HEALTH and WELLNESS by all people. It is fun to do! It can also be called by different names: Breathing/play Therapy, Laughter Therapy

THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF SCIENTIFIC STUDIES from around the world proving the health benefits of practicing Laughter and Laughter Yoga. Countless lives have been profoundly changed. Daily, people report their health testimonials including: ending prescription anti-depressant/medications, cancer remission, immune system and internal/lung/heart health rebuilding, and life saving/changing stories (see the articles, studies, and videos at www.laughteryoga.org)

DR. MADAN KATARIA, MEDICAL DOCTOR, FOUNDED LAUGHTER YOGA IN MUMBAI, INDIA, IN 1995.He was researching scientific studies on the proven health benefits of laughter on the human mind and body for an article he was writing for a health journal called, “Laughter-the Best Medicine". In particular he was inspired by the journalist Norman Cousins’ book ‘Anatomy of an illness’ and the research work of Dr. Lee Berk. He was led to start a Laughter Yoga Club in March 1995, with just 5 people. Now there are over 10,000 Laughter Yoga groups worldwide.

THE CORE PHILOSOPHY OF LAUGHTER YOGA IS "TO LAUGH FOR NO REASON!" The good news is that this means you do not even need to have a sense of humor in order to reap the health benefits of this form of yoga. Laughter Yoga exercises are based on the scientific facts of breathing. Laughter Yoga is not an entertainment session, but based on scientifically proven breathing and movement exercises that are practiced for your health. People often say, "I am not a laugher- how will this work?" Just bring your body to the the exercise session, and the rest will follow. It really must be experienced firsthand in order to fully understand how profound and beneficial it is for your health.

WE COMBINE BREATHING EXERCISES & FROM YOGA (PRANAYAMA) WITH FUN MOVEMENT EXERCISES.When you do these exercises it increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and body and immediately improves your state of being. There is no 'right or wrong' way to laugh-we're all here for our health!

LAUGHTER YOGA IS A BODY-MIND THERAPY and it is based on the scientific fact that even if you laugh as an exercise, your body cannot tell the difference, and you get the same physiological and psychological benefits. Just a few examples of the health benefits of laughter yoga include reducing stress and restoring psychological wellbeing; fostering joy; increasing oxygen supply to the brain and body; strengthening the immune system; and controlling blood pressure. Laughter is nature’s counter to stress-they are physiological opposites.

At the beginning of a Laughter Yoga session it is stated by the Laughter Yoga instructor "that we are giving ourselves the permission to laugh: To have fun! :) And get into the childlike playful movement exercises." Laughter Yoga is the same as engaging in any form of aerobic exercise/fitness involving physical movement. In Laughter Yoga “Motion creates emotion." The instructor says to the group "to not worry if at first you don’t feel like laughing-just go with the flow :)" The motto of Laughter Yoga is “To fake it, till you make it!" Even if you’re not in a good mood or feel you have no sense of humor, you will experience and enjoy the benefits of Laughter Yoga.

The Laughter Yoga clapping goes like this: "Ho, Ho, ha-ha-ha!" It is a lot of fun! The pace of the session depends upon the group of people attending. For example, If I am instructing a group affected by HIV/AIDS, senior citizens or mentally/physically challenged adults, we sit in a circle in chairs and go slowly through the breathing exercises. According to the group attending & when I teach a very large group of people, we stand in a circle and sometimes do more energetic exercises. *Everyone moves at their own pace (sitting or standing)* We end the exercise session with a very short (couple of minutes) relaxation/grounding depending upon the group. It is important to know that no special exercise clothing or yoga mats are needed. Bring your water. If you are coming from work-just bring yourself!

The group exercises are playful, value, and yogic/breathing based movement exercises. Some fun examples are Cell phone laughter (Everyone holds their fake cell phone up to their ear- and laughs!) Argument laughter, Driving laughter, Calcutta Laughter, Silent Laughter, Laughing Alone, and the Lion Laugh are just a few examples of these remarkable and fun exercises.

****Laughter Yoga only adds to all of the wonderful things you are already doing in your life- spiritually, exercise-diet, and creatively. It can re-awaken you to live your life to the fullest! ****

International media attention: The New York Times, Time, The New Yorker, Oprah, among worldwide media.

FOR EXTENSIVE INFORMATION ABOUT LAUGHTER YOGA: The Health Benefits and History; Health Testimonials by people from all walks of life; International scientific laughter studies; Articles, Q & A; Laughter Yoga YouTube videos, Dr. Kataria's blog and health articles please do visit:

www.laughteryoga.org