Many of you may remember a song from the movie Mary Poppins, “I Love to Laugh.”

We love to laugh, loud and long and clear. We love to laugh, so everybody can hear. The more you laugh, the more you fill with glee. And the more the glee, the more we’re a merrier we!

When was the last time YOU really laughed?

I spent the day on Saturday in New York City and attended a laughter yoga class. Laughter yoga (hasyayoga) was started in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria. Kataria is a medical doctor in India who focuses on the healing power and physiological and psychological benefits of laughter. Laughter yoga is not like traditional yoga in that there are no tricky poses or strange names to learn.Dr. Kataria calls it laughter yoga because yoga means unity and laughter is universal and he has a dream that we can someday achieve world peace and harmony through laughter.

The basic principles in a laughter yoga class focus on breathing, eye to eye contact, and childlike playfulness–simple things that most of us don’t get nearly enough of in our day to day lives. We’re so busy texting and emailing and “plugged in” to our computers and electronic gadgets that we are losing sight of real human contact and face to face communication and interaction.

After the introduction and brief history of laughter yoga we concentrated on deep breathing from the belly. We then moved through a series of laughter “exercises”. We learned how to let out a hearty HA that comes from deep within – not just the throat.At first it seemed awkward and a bit strange to forcefully let out a laugh while moving about and gazing into the eyes of complete strangers.As the class continued, however, our ‘fake’ laughs turned into hearty happy real laughter from within as we began to form a connection with this group of like minded people – all of us there to increase our happiness and feel the positive benefits of raising our endorphin levels. We may have had different reasons for trying laughter yoga – depression, illness, stress – but we all left the class with the same outcome – a smile on our face and a feeling of contentment from deep inside our souls at having let go and laughed.

Laughter can transform your life; it can transform the world around you.Laughter also lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, alleviates depression, improves sleep and offers many other positive health benefits. Try it for a week.HA-HA, HO-HO, HEE-HEE for one minute every day.See and feel the difference it makes.Taking time to laugh every day can help restore your own infinite well of love and laughter, joy and bliss.

Love and laughter,

Mary (guest blogger)

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