A Television film in Germany showed one group of people doing Laughter Exercises and another group doing Callisthenics. The objective was to do a comparative study about the impact of Laughter Yoga on the muscles of the belly. The study was conducted by Professor Dr. Heiko Wagener of University of Münster. And guess what? The Laughter group showed greater mobilization of the low lying muscles than the group doing Callisthenic Exercises. The participants of the Laughter group belonged to the Laughter Club of Neuss (near Düsseldorf) and were led by Laughter Leaders Veronica and Gisela Dombrowsky.
We are trying to get the permission to post the video on You Tube and also the results of the study which will soon be published.
Laughter may not be the most scientific counter to ailments, but a UKZN academic Dr. Gita Suraj Narayan, Senior Lecturer at the School of Social Work and Community Development, and a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader, recently proved that “Laughter is the Best Medicine”, through her research and a series of Community Outreach Projects.
Dr. Gita Suraj-Narayan with patients who've benefited from laughter therapy
She carried out a research study in 2008 exploring the Bio Psycho-Social Impact of Laughter Therapy on Stroke patients, and to empower Rural Communities using Laughter Yoga with Cognitive Restructuring as an alternate form of therapy. The study comprised 120 Laughter Therapy Sessions using various Laughter Techniques, Pranayama (deep Yogic Breathing Exercises) and Cognitive Restructuring conducted on Stroke patients between the ages of 40 to 90.
Significant findings of the study included a reduction in Post-Stroke Depression, Enhanced Mobility and the ability to walk without walking aids, Endorphins released as a result of Laughter helped in reducing the intensity of pain. In some cases Laughter Therapy helped patients recover from Cognitive deficits resulting from Stroke including Perceptual Disorders, Speech Problems, and Problems with Attention and Memory. The findings also showed improved communication and relations between the patient and significant others.
In another study, Dr. Narayan combined Laughter Yoga with Cognitive Restructuring, with patients suffering from Stress, Diabetes, Asthma, Depression and High Blood Pressure. The results showed a reduction in Stress levels, Depression, Diabetes and Blood Pressure among some of the participants. Because Laughter improves the lung capacity and oxygen levels in the blood, some participants reported a reduced frequency of Asthmatic attacks and use of Nebulizers.