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Oct 27 2011

Laugh to feel better, laugh to be happy!

by Linda Leclerc

When was the last time you had a laughing fit?
One that freed your mind, boosted your energy, and helped you relax?

Laugh Odds are it was a while ago! Unfortunately, it is becoming unthinkable for many of us—serious and stressed out adults that we are—to burst out laughing. The virtues of laughing, however, are very real and have been demonstrated in numerous studies on the matter.

Laughing makes you inhale more  oxygen, which immediately makes you feel better. When you laugh, your diaphragm contracts and relaxes, stimulating all neighboring organs, including the stomach, liver, spleen, pancreas, and intestines. Laughing contributes to good digestion.

Laughing also helps prevent cardiovascular diseases and reduce hypertension. Because blood vessels dilate, your blood pressure usually drops after a few minutes of laughing.

Laughing generates a sense of well-being thanks to endorphins released in the body. These feel-good hormones help temporarily reduce pain and anxiety and relax muscle tension.

Laughing strengthens the immune system, improves cognitive functions, boosts your energy level, and ensures a good night’s sleep.

Laughing is an effective remedy for depression. Negative emotions like fear, anger, and guilt are eliminated when you laugh. Laughing helps balance your emotions and keep you in a good mood.

Laughing promotes social bonding and helps you integrate into a group. Laughing promotes self-confidence.

Laughing is highly addictive! Once you’re aware of all its health benefits, you’ll want to laugh more, as well as more often.


In March 1995, Dr. Madan Kataria, a general physician in Mumbai, India, wrote an article entitled “Laughter is the Best Medicine” for his monthly health newsletter. His research led him to discover numerous scientific publications demonstrating the benefits of  laughing on the body and mind. He was particularly interested in the book Anatomy of an Illness by American journalist Norman Cousins, where the author describes how he cured himself of ankylosing spondylitis through laughter. Other research also showed that laughing helps reduce the body’s stress level and benefits the immune system.

Dr. Kataria therefore decided to form a “Laughter Club” to test and reap the benefits himself of the powerful effects of laughing. With the help of his wife Madhuri, a yoga
teacher, he created techniques combining deep breathing, stretching, and fun exercises that stimulate laughter. This was how the concept of laughter yoga—also known as the “laugh for no reason” technique—was created, where the body can’t tell the difference between natural and simulated laughter.

Laughter yoga is a very simple technique that allows you to change your mood, cultivate your joy, and build your willpower despite external events.

By reconnecting with your joyful, mischievousness, and fun side, you stimulate your creativity, a valuable tool in helping you solve problems.

The astounding originality of laughter yoga and its effectiveness come from the fact that it does not rely on humor or jokes, but rather focuses on making the body laugh. You laugh to voluntarily and actively change your frame of mind. After a time, you can burst out laughing much more easily in your day-to-day life.

Scientists have observed an important phenomenon: action creates emotion! By getting your body to laugh, your ideas become clearer and your attitude lighter and more open. Physically miming sadness leads to feeling sad, just like the physical act of laughing generates feelings of joy and happiness. Amazing, isn’t it?

Are gloomy thoughts preventing you from laughing? No problem! The more you practice the exercises, the more effective they will be. You’ll soon be laughing for good and feeling better!

The spirit of laughter

Of all the aspects of laughter yoga, the one that speaks to me the most is definitely this one: regular practice of laughter yoga has the remarkable ability to help you develop positive feelings and unconditional love. You cannot cultivate your laughter without opening your heart, finding your inner joy, and wanting to share it with those around you.
Laughing stimulates a real feeling of inner peace. It brings out the best in each of us. It overcomes many little daily conflicts. Putting laughter back in your life profoundly
changes you, opens your heart, and positively affects those around you. And the spirit of laughter commits you to take action to create a better world.

What do you get after a good session of joyous laughter? A feeling of astonishing, soothing lightness throughout your entire being. It makes an excellent breeding ground for understanding, tolerance, acceptance, openness, forgiveness, respect, benevolence, kindness, and gentleness, don’t you think?

About the author

Author, lecturer, and founder of the Canadian School of Laughter Yoga, Linda Leclerc has been seriously practicing laughter yoga since 2003. The first Certified Laughter Yoga Master Trainer in the world and a senior member of Laughter Yoga International, Linda acts as resource person for the worldwide organization, which now boasts over 10,000 laughter clubs in 65 countries. She has also earned two prestigious Laughter Ambassador Awards for the quality of her initiatives and their international reach.

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