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The art of smiling

September 22, 2015

The art of smiling

September 22, 2015

If you love to laugh, Laughter Yoga might be the perfect workout for you. Dr. Madan Kataria, a medical doctor from Mumbai, started Laughter Yoga clubs in 1995. While researching the benefits of laughter, he was amazed by the number of studies showing the profound physiological and psychological benefits of laughter. CATch Up spoke to Laughter Yoga Trainer Marion Madhavi Fritscher, what it really does to you.

Charlie Chaplin once said: “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” He must have known about the health benefits of laughing, that scientists have been studying for years. Laughing is said to help alleviate depression and allergies, improve your sleep and hormonal balance.

“The problem is that as adults we rarely indulge in hearty belly laughs anymore, so we need to create space for laughing,” says Marion Madhavi Fritscher, who has been running Laughter Yoga sessions in Erlangen, Germany, for more than ten years. “Laughter Yoga helps us to use our body to create a positive state of consciousness, generating positive energy and good mood.”

As soon as the corners of our mouths go up, our brains release hormones and we immediately feel better. If we let our shoulders drop, it won’t take a minute and our mood deteriorates. “With simple exercises, we can improve the way we feel and get step by step into laughing,” the mother of three states.

A class usually starts with gentle relaxation techniques to get people into concentrating on their bodies. Coordination exercises such as letting your arms swing back and forth help to become aware of body movements. “And then we go into laughing exercises, which can seem strange at first,” Marion adds.

There is a lot of clapping and chanting involved as well as working with sounds. “An ‘eeh’ will raise the corners of your mouth and has an uplifting power, while an “oh” has the opposite effect.” These laughing exercises help to activate vital energies and make it easier for people to go into laughter meditation. “The young ladies, who regularly attend my classes, claim that they have withdrawal symptoms when they miss one,” the 49-year old, who has also been running classes for PUMA employees in Herzogenaurach, says smilingly.

This is not surprising when you look at what laughing does to your body: it activates all regions of your brain, electrical impulses are emitted, around 400 muscles stimulated, digestion is improved, stress hormones are reduced, endorphins released, the immune system boosted, respiratory problems alleviated and all this lasts up to 24 hours after having had a proper laugh.

“Most imortantly, regular laughing improves your sense of humour. Humour begins where fun ends, and helps you to take on a different perspective when you are in a difficult situation.”

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