Laugh Every Day to Keep a Heart Attack Away
“HO HO HA HA HA!”
You heard that right. We are learning how to laugh!
I have been hearing about some health and fitness craze known as Laughter Yoga. There are even trends called Laughter Therapy and Laughter Clubs!
“HO HO HA HA HA!”
The chant – “HO HO HA HA HA” is how class begins. Laughter yoga is a combination of laughter, breathing, stretching and clapping and chanting.
“HO HO HA HA HA!”
This is followed by a few minutes of meditation, followed by more “fake laughter.” It is an interesting spectacle where you become childlike.
Although it is known as LAUGHTER YOGA, it is not like the familiar yoga of flexibility and stretching. During laughter yoga class one gets a chance to laugh, jump around, make animal noises and dance. Combining the effects of laughter with movements of clapping and waving your arms, will increase your heart rate and burn calories. It is all rather silly for 15 to 20 minutes and then five minutes of continuous laughing begins while lying on your back on the yoga mat. This is followed by breathing and relaxation. At the end, you should feel the endorphins release from our movement.
Apparently, the body cannot tell the difference between real laughing and fake laughing, so it always produces endorphins that produce the feeling of joy within us. Laughter Yoga claims to boost our immune system, lowers our blood pressure, relieves stress and even helps burn calories.
The health benefits of laughing are directly related to heart health. In fact, researching this topic lead to the knowledge that laughing releases nitric oxide, which is the same chemical believed to be released with EECP! Laughing would certainly be much easier than going through multiple sessions of EECP! Wikipedia states:
“A link between laughter and healthy function of blood vessels was first reported in 2005 by researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center with the fact that laughter causes the dilatation of the inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, and increases blood flow. Drs. Michael Miller (University of Maryland) and William Fry (Stanford), theorize that beta-endorphin like compounds released by the hypothalamus activate receptors on the endothelial surface to release nitric oxide, thereby resulting in dilation of vessels. Other cardioprotective properties of nitric oxide include reduction of inflammation and decreased platelet aggregation.”
Laughter has also been shown to have beneficial effects on various other aspects of biochemistry. For example, laughter has been shown to lead to reductions in stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine. When laughing, the brain also releases endorphins that can relieve some physical pain. Laughter also boosts the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T-cells, leading to a stronger immune system.”
Studies at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore revealed that the act of laughing may actually protect against a heart attack.
Additionally, this study found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease. (Hmmm… I actually fit this criteria.)
Learning to laugh may have essential implications in our world, especially in the United States where heart disease remains the number one killer. The American Heart Association educated us about exercise, eating right, not smoking and “knowing our numbers” to reduce our risks of heart disease. Perhaps, regular laughter should be added to the list!
I MUST LEARN HOW TO LAUGH! I need to release nitric oxide (Oooh… that does not sound good!) to help dilate my coronary blood vessels and stimulate circulation. Laughter will lower epinephrine and cortisol (the stress hormones) and escalate the release of endorphins (the feel good chemical manufactured by our bodies). Isn’t this why everyone tries to laugh?
In my search of laughter yoga and laughter therapy, I find a Laughter Yoga class not far from my home. My intentions are good. I am going to unleash my inner spirit of laughter with an easy mode that does not feel forced.
I was in trouble right from the “get-go.” Frankly, I just am NOT a laugher. I do believe I have a sense of humor, but there are not that many things in life that are purely funny. I even get uptight when friends say:
“I have to tell you this joke I just heard. It is SO funny!”
I immediately stress out because, not only will I not “get it”, I will not laugh. I feel like my insignificant reaction is not showing a full appreciation for their efforts. There is nothing worse than “taking the wind out of someone’s sail!” Hence, attending a laughter yoga class is intimidating and taking my life in my hands.
My 8 year old grandson joins me for our first Laughter Yoga class. I believe this might be a real asset as kids are full of laughter, fun and wonder.
Laughter did not come easy to me! Interestingly, it did not come easy to 8 year old Lucas, either. It felt forced, silly – more childish than childlike.
I just do not understand how laughter is contagious because I did not catch it! I must be immune? Both Lucas and I had to leave the group, with Lucas leaving first.
We talked about it later and Lucas tried to reassure me that it “would be o.k.” … He insisted that maybe we just “needed some practice.” He claimed all the other people there must have taken the class before!
Surely that must be the reason we did not get our needed dose of endorphins from our class!
It was really hard to laugh. After a while of forcing laughter, I decided to sit on a chair along the wall. (Hey, they said we could.) I relaxed because then not so many people were “in my face” and laughing out loud and rather foolishly. I just could not complete the class, especially the “lie on the floor and laugh continuously for 5 minutes!” It just wasn’t going to happen!
So there was no release of nitric oxide. (Does that mean I have to go back to EECP?) I did not feel like a child again, nor did I feel the surge of endorphins. I was a bit more stressed because I did not possess the tenacity to succeed at laughing yoga.
I think I need some serious help here! Can anyone teach me how to laugh?
In the meantime, I would like to encourage you to laugh every day. Yes, laugh every day. Laugh out loud. You will feel better mentally and physically.
You must proceed with caution though because laughter is contagious. (This is what I have heard, anyway.) When we laugh, every system in our body responds in a positive way, liberating us from everyday stress and negative energy. Suddenly the world becomes a brighter place.
You are invited to laugh along with me.
I will do my best to keep up with you!
Laughing is good for your heart.
Now, THIS video will make you laugh!