There were no previous studies done on Laughter Yoga methods until 2006 when we did a scientific study in Bangalore followed by USA, Germany, Austria and South Africa. There are some more studies underway in Japan and other countries but it may take a few years before we can get conclusive evidence.
So far, all scientific research conducted for the past 25 years, was by using the humor model. The researchers induced laughter, by showing some humorous videos, or some kind of mental process, which led to laughter, and then physiological and biochemical changes were measured. People always questioned the efficacy of Laughter Yoga exercises, as they were self-induced, and not the outcome of any humorous interaction. My experience with Laughter Clubs worldwide taught me that people were definitely deriving health benefits from Laughter Yoga exercises. There was no scientific proof I could offer them, to satisfy the logical-minded people, especially in the West. I had no problems in India, as more than 100,000 people laughed every morning, without asking me for any proof, but when it came to the West, everybody asked, do you have the data?
In December 2006, Laughter Yoga International commissioned a scientific research project involving 200 IT professionals in Bangalore, India, to study the effects of Laughter Yoga on their stress levels. Seven Laughter Yoga sessions were administered to half the group over an 18 day period, with physiological, immunological and psychological tests performed on each person before and after the Laughter Yoga sessions.
The study was undertaken by one of India’s leading scientific research organizations.
The results of the Bangalore study were extremely positive. In the Laughter Yoga group there was a significant drop in heart rate, blood pressure dropped significantly, cortisol levels were significantly reduced, positive emotions increased by 17% and negative emotions dropped by 27%, perceived stress dropped significantly, and Alexithymia dropped by almost 9%, indicating a significant improvement in emotional intelligence.
US Study (Beckman, Regier & Young)
Another important 2007 study in the United States looked at the effects of Laughter Yoga on personal efficacy in the workplace.
Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s ability to organize and carry out courses of action necessary to achieve a goal or manage a situation (Bandura, 1986). This personal belief influences the choices people make, the effort they put forth into working toward a goal, how long they persist when confronted with obstacles, and how they feel during the process of working toward goals. Self-efficacy beliefs affect performance in the workplace. Personal efficacy testing was done the week before, the week after, and 60-90 days after the series of daily Laughter Yoga sessions. Laughter Yoga was administered for 15 minutes a day for 14 days.
The results show significant improvements of the Laughter Yoga group in all areas, with positive changes of 100% occurring in a number of areas. It is particularly interesting to note the long-lasting effects of the laughter interventions.
Laughter Yoga Study In Denmark
A study was conducted at a computer company where Mr. Thomas Flindt led a session of Laughter Yoga, in the beginning of the day, throughout the month of May 2004. The study was made using an AIR-PAS (Artificial Intelligence Respiratory-Psycho physiological Analysis System), developed by Mr. Bo von Scheele, Ph.D., the Psycho physiological Institute at Karolinska Institute Stockholm, Sweden, and conducted by Mr. Anders Lonedal.
The test group of four persons was randomly selected. The group was tested with the AIR-PAS at the start of the project, and consequently at the end of the same project. This project clearly shows the effect that regular practice of Laughter Yoga has on stress levels. On an individual level, the results were remarkable. The body stress levels significantly reduced. The AIR-PAS test contributes also as an awareness raiser, that is, the individual becomes aware about how the body and mind interact. The importance of a correct breathing behavior is also highlighted. During a laughter session, breathing exercises are frequently used, and laughter itself has a positive influence on the movement of the diaphragm, as well as the levels of stress hormones in the body. Laughter brings us back to the present.
Since the results at group level, and even more so on an individual level indicate good and even remarkable results, the investigation will continue. Important to state is also the participants’ subjective analyses of the project, and the general feeling of well-being that will remain in the company, for a long time. The results from this project confirm a study carried out on ten Laughter Yoga instructors in April 2004.