Laughter is good medicine, and now many Canadians get a regular dose of it without any humour. Members of Laughter Clubs have discovered that simulated laughter can quickly turn into the giggles, then side-splitting guffaws benefiting their mind, body and spirit.
Rhythm But No Blues
In group laughter, it’s not the content that matters. You can laugh over nothing and even simulate or force laughter and still reap the benefits. The body knows no difference. “Fake it til you make it” is their motto. Incorporating yoga stretches, rhythmic breathing, meditation and a healthy measure of playfulness, a typical laughter club session begins with rhythmic hand-clapping along with energetic chants of “ho-ho, ha-ha-ha.”
This unique idea was developed by Dr. Madan Kataria in 1995. His interest in the health benefits of laughter-its positive impact on healing and how it reduces stress-has led to the creation of 5,000 laughter clubs worldwide, where members gather to practise laughs ranging from the milkshake to the lion.
Numerous studies support the health benefits of laughter in cardiac rehabilitation, in alleviating depression and anxiety, coping with stress, pain perception and in building a positive attitude. Now, new research at Loma Linda University even suggests that simply anticipating humour can contribute to stress reduction and optimize the immune system.
Researcher Lee S, Berk says the study suggests that “if group laughter sounds like a fun activity you look forward to trying, you’ve probably already gained some health benefits.”
To find a laughter club, visit laughteryoga.org