Laughter is the most spontaneous thing in the world. When we were children we laughed about anything and everything. Growing up we may not laugh as much, yet it’s still the easiest way to defuse tension. Hence, the restorative practice of yoga too includes it in the form of Hasya or Laughter Yoga. This practice leverages laughter as a tool to offer widespread benefits.
The benefits of Laughter Yoga
The hectic lifestyle of millennials is typically sedentary and wrought with various stresses. Work rules their lives and they have no-to-low exercise regimes to keep their bodies fit and minds fresh. Other than the long hours spent working in front of computers, they continue sitting with their smartphones for digital entertainment after office hours. Due to work pressure or laziness, millennials are now outsourcing their food requirements to restaurants without caring for their health. For this stressed, unhealthy generation, Laughter Yoga is equivalent to a necessary baby step toward good health. Once they begin with Hasya Yoga, they may discover the perks of other restorative therapies too.
Hasya Yoga benefits us by boosting our immune system, regulating blood pressure, increasing oxygen levels, improving energy levels and mood, etc. All these benefits help in reducing pain, anxiety and depressive thoughts, and stress. Laughing produces ‘happy’ hormones – serotonin, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system which calms our mind and body, and dopamine while also suppressing cortisol levels. Laughing with others also fosters feelings of bonding with the group.
For millennials, Hasya Yoga offers certain specific benefits:
Improves performance at work: Hasya Yoga is a full-body activity which also engages the mind and regulates emotions. Since superior professional performance is reliant on having a clear, focused mind, this practice prepares millennials to excel at work.
Improves soft skills: Having good social skills, being confident and compassionate, building rapports, and diffusing conflict, are all essential soft skills that millennials need. The practice of Hasya Yoga helps build these skills.
Builds lasting relationships: Laughter Yoga fosters much-needed positive morale in millennials and creates not only a good work atmosphere but also forges a feeling of well-being at the workplace. This contributes heavily to fostering stronger feelings of teamwork, which is an important factor in workplace success.
Creates an attitude of creativity and innovation: Being creative is a sign of possessing a calm, confident mind. During Laughter Therapy, the brain reaches the gamma frequency state. Since millennials need to be innovative at work practising Hasya Yoga is one of the best solutions to bring out creativity and innovation.
How to practice Hasya Yoga
Hasya Yoga is usually practised in a group such as in a laughter club or workshop. The group is led by a trained Hasya Yoga instructor who coaches participants through some warm-up exercises. Moving on to some easy Pranayama or breathing exercises, instructors may then introduce certain rhythmic activities such as chanting nonsensical syllables like “ho-ho-ha-ha” or clapping one’s hands. These activities tend to have a relaxing effect on the group and aim to gradually silence our egos. Till now, the order of activities may differ depending on the conductor.
Finally, instructors will guide the group to take a series of profound breaths, fill their lungs and release it with a big laugh. Laughter exercises come next, where people may be asked to go around the room and greet all attendees with a booming laugh while looking them in the eyes. If people feel their laughter is forced, conductors will assure them that our bodies cannot distinguish between fake and real laughter. In some time, the judgments will cease and free-flowing laughter will ensue.
Usually, regular laughter clubs congregate daily at parks, gardens or any open space they can find in cities, in the morning or evening times. They have a variety of laughs and induce spontaneous smiles and laughs from non-participating passersby as well.
At first glance, Hasya Yoga may feel somewhat disconnected from the overall holistic practice but is, in fact, a crucial arm. Its benefits are long-lasting and vast while its demands are few. This makes it the best therapy for millennials to include in their day-to-day routine.
(Dr Deepak Mittal is Founder of Divine Soul Yoga)
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