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Mar 11

The Benefits of Humour

I saw an article on Science Daily about a new form of yoga called “laughter yoga”. It seems that people laugh continuously for 30 minutes. Apparently there’s a growing trend in the US and India for this type of yoga. This is a bit more involved than telling joke stories that I’ve written about before.

It is reported that “children laugh 400 times a day and adults only laugh 15 times a day”. Clearly children don’t have a very sophisticated sense of humour and laugh at anything. They never act their age. plus their joke stories are never very good:

“What’s brown and sticky? A stick.”Taxi for the six-year old.

Anyways, it is reported that laughter yoga, also known as hasya yoga, has various health benefits:

Help to reduce stress
Enhance the immune system
Strengthen cardiovascular functions
Oxygenate the body by boosting the respiratory system
Improve circulation
Tone muscles
Help with digestion and constipation

Not quite sure about laughter helping me to poop, personally I find fibre to be much more effective. Although, I never really considered fibre to be that funny.

I also can’t quite imagine Arnold Schwartzenegger building up his body through laughter alone, otherwise I’d be a contender for the Mr. Universe title. Somehow I can’t imagine Arnie being good with a joke story.

Interestingly Barb Fisher, a certified laughter yoga leader, says that “studies have shown that 20 seconds of a good, hard belly laugh is worth three minutes on the rowing machine.”

Using that information, as a speaking professional if I am able to maintain a Positive Audience Response (PAR) score of 15, that’s 45 seconds of laughter for each 5 minutes of presenting. That means the laughter in that 5 minutes would be equivalent to six minutes on a rowing machine.

If that level of laughter is maintained for, say a 30 minute presentation that would be the equivalent to 180 minutes on a rowing machine, or 3 hours.

Personally, I prefer being entertained by a comedian or humorist than stood in a room with a bunch of strangers faking laughter. Also, I have to admit my fiancée makes me laugh harder than a lot of comedians do these days.

That said, I wouldn’t recommend substituting an aerobic exercise regime for visiting comedy clubs. However, it wouldn’t do any harm to inject a little more humour into our lives. Even if it’s just cracking a few joke stories.

Seeing as I am planning on emigrating to the US at some point this year, I might try and seek out a laughter yoga workshop and report back more thoroughly.

If you’re looking to add a little more humour into your workplace, check out this previous article that I writted on the subject. If you’re a regular reader then you would’ve seen my previous articles about adding humour to speeches. Check out a this previous article on funny presentations here.

4 comments

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  1. Melissa

    I saw an episode of “Wife Swap” where one of the Moms was a Laughter Yoga instructor… I have to say, she came off a little Crazy McCrazerton… I believe that laughter is a very useful therapy, but it can’t be manufactured- it has to come as response from some sort of stimulus. Otherwise, it’s like… well I don’t know what it’s like, but it’s not real. Kind of like using a blow-up doll and calling it “Nookie”.

  2. Jason Peck

    Thanks for dropping by…

    I never saw that episode, although I have seen these laughter types on Tv and I have to agree with you. They do seem slightly unhinged. Just a little odd walking around shouting HA! HA! HA!

    I’m all for the benefits of laughter, I just feel that having a prescription of watching some comedy DVDs and attending a comedy club much more beneficial. Or even surrounding yourself with friends in a social situation, laughter always naturally arises in those situations.

    Re: the blow-up doll comment, do people actually use them? I always figured that they might be sold as a joke gift or something. If they do actually get used, I am sure there are many descriptions for it. And as you rightly say, not one of them would be “nookie”.

  3. Robin OK

    So, you have yet to actually experience Laughter Yoga, right? The whole point of it is to Laugh for No Reason (the title of the founder’s book on the subject, by the way) — which, yeah, to our cynical, mature, self-important, depressed and advanced society is ridiculous to even think about – which, sadly, is a big part of the problem. We THINK too much – and we think too much about thinking.

    When we’re laughing (purely for the sake of it), mostly we think about laughing – and LAUGHING?! – is FUNNY! So – WHEN you actually try it (cause if you’re interested enough to write about it, your curiosity HAS to be heightened to the point that you’ll put yourself out there (minus the Critic’s Cap) and try it. It’s true you do feel like a ridiculous, out of control little kid who can’t get a grip on the giggles (and you look like one, too – but so does everyone else — and, hey – that’s FUNNY, too!) – and while it may go against all the rules and regulations we’ve been programmed to honor as Responsible Adults In Society Today – well, what’s so great about that?

    One of the main benefits and a-ha’s in the practice of Laughter Yoga is getting out of your head and into your body. I love a great comedy act or movie or just a plain old joke, too – no one’s taking that away or minimizing the inherent joy of wise wise-cracks – it’s just that the only common factor is the Laughing thing. It’s kind of like comparing screams – they bubble out for any number of reasons, but you wouldn’t choose one over another – there’s a time and a place. Thing about laughing just for the healing aspects (not to mention that it’s fun, improves mood, and connects you with people in a very positive way) is that even though we’re still perfectly capable of accessing it, we no longer give it its time and place.

    Hence, Laughter Yoga. Thanks for blogging about it – and for making the world a more humorous place – it’s all good!

    Robin OK

    *Oh, and please don’t judge the practice of it by a woman who would Swap Families. Hel-lo? (No, I haven’t tried it)!!

  4. Jason Peck

    Hi Robin Ok,

    What a simply marevellous comment thank you. Yes, i have yet to actually experience laughter yoga. Although I would have to say I’m a bit of a professional at the regular kind of laughter.

    You’re right I am interested enough to write about it. I like exploring the benefits of humour and laughter not just for health reasons but also from a public speaking perspective too. And I will try it out and I will write a follow up post on here too.

    It’s nice to know that the ha-ha’s bring the a-ha’s. You say that Laughter Yoga “is getting out of your head and into your body”, I appreciate where you’re coming from with this. That’s not just limited to Laughter yoga, but to laughter as a whole.

    Although, my imressions based upon video clips and articles that I have read it does seem a little free of stimuli. As Melissa said in her comment kind of like using a blow up doll and calling it Nookie.

    I appreciate the benefits and the reasons for its creation, but it just seems a little false and sometimes forced. Whereas, a friend or a comedian making you laugh, the laughter comes from a more organic place. Rather than the people going “right, now we’re going to laugh” and then replicating the sounds and the physical responses.

    I will find a class and go along in order to form a more informed opinion.

    Thank you for your responses I really apprecuate a Laughter Yoga practitioner providing your insight.

    Cheers

    Jason

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