Everyone has heard the cliché “laughter is the best medicine.” Now, there is a “workout” that puts this idea to the test.
by Lauren Collins

Laughter yoga is a program that has swept the world. Laughter clubs started in India after Dr. Madan Kataria wrote an article about laughing for a health journal. He found through research that there are many benefits of laughter on the human mind and body.

Laughter yoga instructor Sarah Lyttle introduced the program to the Life Long Learners group in the Ball State University Alumni Center. While everyone seemed to be having fun, others were a skeptical at first.

“I knew about yoga,” said Betty Gridley, program chair of life-long learners. “I knew a little bit about laughing yoga because I had gone to YouTube to check out some of the things before I actually approached her to do it, just to see what are we getting ourselves in for.”

Lyttle went through several different laughing exercises with the group to loosen them up and get them interested in the program.

Lyttle is an advocate for laughter yoga because she has personally seen its benefits. When she lost one of her son’s, it helped to keep her off anti-depressants.

“I have one student, an older student in particular, who is having some difficulties in her life – losing a husband,” Lyttle said. “And she would come in and say, ‘I could really use a laugh today. Could we do some laughing yoga?’ And that’s when I became inspired. You know that maybe there is a need out there, or this really has a purpose and a place in Muncie.”

Currently there are no laughing clubs in Muncie. But, Lyttle hopes there will be soon.

Benefits of laughter

  • Laughter releases endorphins, giving us the “feel good factor”
  • Acts as an aerobic exercise and is like “internal jogging”
  • Unleashes inhibitions, breaks down barriers
  • Great team building tool encourages better communication
  • Helps boost our immune system which helps us resist disease
  • Tones muscles, improves respiration and circulation
  • Encourages positive thinking and creativity
  • Relaxes the whole body by reducing stress and tension