How Laughter Yoga Really Benefits Your Body

Laughter yoga has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years — and for good reason. That's because the health and fitness trend can benefit both your mental and physical health. While using laughter as medicine isn't exactly a new concept, laughter yoga isn't comedy, according to Byrdie. Invented by Indian physician Madan Kataria in the 1990s, laughter yoga involves deep breathing exercises that create voluntary laughter. The primary components of laughter yoga include breathwork, clapping, and laughter exercises.

"The main aim is to get the exhales longer than the inhales to bring us into a calm, healthy state, and the quickest and most efficient way of making our exhales longer is to laugh it out," Jenni McGinley, a certified laughter yoga leader who runs Kinvara Laughter Yoga and Sligo Laughter Yoga in Ireland, told Byrdie. "It gets rid of all the stagnant, stale air in the lungs and helps the parasympathetic nervous system to relax the body and mind."

The science of laughter yoga

Laughter yoga isn't just a fun activity, however. It can also help benefit your overall health. As a matter of fact, endorphins play a crucial role in the benefits of laughter yoga. According to Shape, research has shown that laughter can help reduce pain and improve social bonding by releasing endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are designed to stimulate the pleasure center of the brain, which can help relieve physical and emotional pain.

As a result, laughter yoga can be used to help treat depression and anxiety, alongside therapy and medication. "You can't be laughing and stressed out at the same time — the responses are incompatible in the brain," Dr. Natalie Dattilo, director of psychology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and advisor to Laugh.Events, told Shape. Multiple studies have also found that using laughter as an anti-stress agent can help reduce blood pressure and relieve tension.