Laughter Yoga and the Laughter Wellness method are used around the world by professionals who offer a variety of laughter programs (from a few minutes as ice-breakers to several days in the form of retreats). Who offers what program depends on each person’s expertise and abilities. Laughter is like gold: it can be molded into any shape imaginable, yet never loose its intrinsic value. The following list is only intended to give you ideas of some of what is being done.
- Everybody: laughter is about the breath and we all need to breathe. The better you breathe, the better your body and brain will function.
- Children: at every age, brain development and learning happen through play and fun. Children learn so quickly because they engage with the world through curiosity and play. Children laugh about 150 times a day. Without enough amusement, fun, play, and laughter, this learning is stifled. Babies smile, coo, snort, giggle, chuckle, guffaw long before they speak. Laughter, in fact, helps develop the brain structures necessary for speech.
- Adults: laughter is about feeling good about you, having a healthy self-image and learning to remain positive in the face of adversity. The starting point for both success and happiness is a healthy self-image.
- Seniors: there is a distinct rise in life expectancy with improvement in health care, and advancement in medical technology. In fact, ten years from now the number of older people would have almost doubled. Faced with age and age-related troubles, seniors find their physical and mental faculties on the decline. Since the cognitive abilities in seniors are compromised due to senile dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, they find it difficult to comprehend humor. Therefore, the Laughter Wellness method is the ideal form of exercise routine that can help them to get complete health benefits of laughter.
- Couples: symbolically, laughing together is a way to share complicity and intimacy. It brings us closer to one another. Those who laugh together usually try to stay together.
Populations with special needs
Health & Healing
- Cancer patients. A significant number of Laughter Club members around the world suffer some kind of cancer, and laughter has brought a new hope in their lives. Many have reported that the regular practice of laughter exercises has benefited them tremendously. Cancer is the next biggest killer after depression and heart problems. Scientific research has proved that laughter has a profound impact on the immune system that influences the course of survival of cancer patients. The Laughter Wellness method has been effectively implemented in many Cancer Hospitals, helping the patients and their caregivers, cope with pain and trauma. Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago, USA, conducts laughter sessions regularly during the chemotherapy sessions.
- Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Centers: laughter is scientifically proven to be good for the heart. This is not a joke.
- Disabilities. Many chair-bound people have shown tremendous improvement in their physical condition and mental health. Laughter sessions have also been introduced in many schools for the blind, and among the deaf and mute children, to help them cope with their disabilities and generate a more positive attitude, that will help them to enhance their wellbeing.
- Mental health. Laughter sessions made a major difference in the lives of many people with physical and mental disabilities, often resulting in a marked improvement in motor and expressive skills besides control of hyper-activeness.
- People in pain. Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, tracked a group of recent widows and widowers, looking for the markers of coping resiliently with devastating loss and grief. He found that the survivors who could smile and laugh as they remembered their loved ones experienced less anxiety and depression at six months after their loss, at 12 months, at 24 months. According to Dr. Keltner, the laughter seemed to give people a brief vacation from mourning, “a little trap door that allows you to escape from toxic stress.” To laugh in a painful or distressing situation isn’t to avoid emotional reckoning but to gain the perspective needed to make the experience productive, to see the dilemma as part of the somewhat absurd human drama, and to seek fellowship in the society of the living.
- And more: drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, IVF pregnancies, fitness centers (read more in the optional material below)
- Laughter is about creating community and teaching people healthy and empowering interpersonal skills. Laughter is contagious, sometimes uncontrollably so. Mirror neurons fire when we see someone else laughing; our body responds with an impulse to laugh, too. Laughter facilitates group cohesion and solidarity because people are sharing a mental and acoustic space with each other. Our laughter builds a reciprocal resonance; we laugh together with another like a duet or chorus, especially with friends. Laughter signals a shared understanding of the world; it’s foundational to like-mindedness, interdependency, and intimacy.
- Several churches in the USA use laughter as part of their ministry (read more in the optional material below)
Where there is stress
- Workplace. Laughter’s ability to counteract the body’s physiological responses to stress provides great benefit in the work place, where stress is the number one cause of worker’s compensation claims. Many different research studies show: workers who laugh regularly, long and hard, focus better, think more creatively, and problem solve better than co-workers who do not. People who laugh tend to be more efficient, more productive, and make fewer mistakes than their stressed out co-workers. Because laughter reduces the damaging effects of stress on the immune system, people who laugh a lot are less vulnerable to illness and take fewer sick days from work.
- Prisons. Laughter sessions are being offered in prisons in Asia, Europe, North America and Australia. With the rise in crime, prisons are overburdened with prisoners, harboring negative emotions and thoughts. Laughter is a great method of dissipating negative feelings of anger and frustration. Many prisoners have found that the practice of laughter exercises is an effective tool to release their negative emotions. There have been positive changes in prisoner attitude, better prisoner-staff relations and reduced violence.
Laughter Yoga in a Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center