Take a deep breath and then let loose with a deep belly laugh. Then another and another. I’ll wait. I bet that felt good. I know it does when I do it. We are born to laugh, hardwired for it. Watch a child explore the world and more often than not, it will include a whole lot of silliness, giggles, and guffaws. I’ve heard the kiddos laugh 100 times a day while adults may only indulge 15 times a day. Reason enough to experience childlike playfulness and wonder. For many, it has to be prompted by humor or comedy. What limits us is that belief, since what might be funny to you may have me rolling my eyes and groaning and vice versa.

World Laughter Day which occurs on the first Sunday in May (this year it falls on May 6th) celebrates all things ha-ha healing. It was created by pioneering laughologist and cardiologist Dr. Madan Kataria back in 1998, when he found that laughter had a multitude of benefits, including that of bringing people together in community. When we laugh together, all self-created and societally reinforced differences melt away. All over the planet in 108 countries, people gather to laugh it up on a regular basis. It is estimated that there are 6000 Laughter Yoga clubs since the inception of the modality 23 years ago. Imagine if our world leaders to could laugh together. Peace would not just be a distant possibility, but a here and now reality. Laughter is a universal language.

What are the benefits of sustained laughter?

*Science shows that the mind and body don’t know the difference between genuine laughter and fake laughter.

*You reap the same benefits either way, as long as you engage the diaphragm.

*To put it to optimal use, it is important to extend your laughter times, ideally laughing for 15-20 minutes a day.

*It has also been found beneficial in helping with addiction recovery.

*Start out by inserting some laughter into your already existing routine.

Full out belly laughs are an important part of the process as you engage your solar plexus and do diaphragmatic breathing. The physiological and psychological shifts are observable. They include increased blood flow and oxygen, release of pain relieving and pleasure-inducing hormones, decrease in cortisol (a stress hormone), as well as reduction in depression and anxiety.

After being immersed in laughter soup for most of my life, having grown up in a really goofy family, I decided to become a certified Laughter Yoga Leader which has enhanced my life in innumerable ways and increased my toolkit of strategies to work with clients and students. No matter what is going on in my life, I seem to find a way to laugh my way through it to the other side.

Throughout the world, people will be gathering to put this into practice and I can imagine the waves of love and laughter washing over us out into the world. Here in my area, Philadelphia, we will be joining to share the beauty and benefit of what is referred to as hasyayoga. It is a family-friendly, free event. I will be there, participating and teaching some way cool exercises.

As a teaser, this is how we celebrated last year.

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