What Is Laughter Yoga and How Can it Help Cancer Patients?

"When you laugh, you change. And when you change, the whole world around you changes." – Dr. Madan Kataria

Laughter Yoga enables you to find the joy within yourself. This practice has numerous health benefits and brings people together to affect their bodies in a positive way.

Laughter Yoga, or laughter therapy, is a unique concept in which we laugh for no reason at all, without jokes or comedy. It can be done one-on-one or privately, but it is often done in a group. Individuals make eye contact while performing a variety of laughter yoga exercises, gentle stretching and deep breathing. A childlike playfulness embodies the entire practice. Eventually, the fake laughter turns into real laughter – and we all know laughter is contagious!

A group of Roswell Park patients, caregivers and doctors at the 2016 Roswell Park Patient Retreat after completing a Laughter Yoga session.

Ironically, deep-belly laughter is no joke. There are many health benefits to this exercise program that can help all people, but especially those dealing with a serious illness. Stress winds the body up, physically and mentally. Laughter unwinds the body and puts it in a more relaxed state. This may help to lessen depression, boost the immune system, promote a positive outlook, manage pain, lower blood pressure, increase self-confidence and oxygenate the body.

Ultimately, more joy in our lives is always a good thing. If nothing else, Laughter Yoga will provide a non-intellectual path to laughter. Those dealing with a cancer diagnosis may not be able to laugh at external stimuli, like a funny joke. However, by going through certain voice exercises (for example, repeating “Ho! Ho! Ha! Ha!”) and breathing techniques, they are able to simulate (and stimulate!) laughter and thus receive the same benefits.

For more information on Laughter Yoga, contact Caren at 716-983-7714.