Laughing is good for you; science and philosophy agree on the matter. From Hippocrates, who considered good humour to be an elixir of long life, to Patch Adams, creator of clown therapy, who believed that health was based on happiness. Today, all over the world, we are celebrating World Laughter Day: a day for feeling happy in a completely unconditional way.
This particular event was established by the Indian doctor Madan Kataria in 1988, who believed that laughing could have extraordinary beneficial effects on the body and mind. Cool, isn't it?
According to Madan Kataria's belief, laughter is able to generate positivity and confidence and gives us the possibility to change the course of the day and even lives, both our own and those of others.
His theory was the founding belief behind the international school of Laughter Yoga based on yoga positions that incorporate Prāṇāyāma exercises, an ancient science of breathing, to produce induced and then authentic laughter. A school that today has spread to 72 countries and has about 6,000 laughter clubs.
But how is laughter yoga practised?
The exercises in this yoga practice start early in the morning and include warm-up and stretching, vocalisations, clapping, and full-body movements. The combination of theatrical exercises with the typical playfulness of children allows you to activate breathing and prepare the lungs for laughter; the latter is produced in an unconditional and prolonged manner.
Only twenty minutes of laughter are needed for the body and mind to perceive important benefits. For example, the body will receive a greater supply of oxygen that can reduce high levels of tension and promote regularised breathing. Symptoms of allergies, asthma and arthritis will also be reduced, along with the negative effects caused by stress.
So, if laughing is good for your health, why not start fighting everyday stress with a simple smile? Sometimes laughing about it is the first step to facing the day in a better way. And since laughter is contagious, we could take the opportunity to give others a little moment of happiness.