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“Between play, skip around the room clapping and chanting merry little mantras (those ‘ho-ho-ha-ha-ha’s and ‘very good’s). Eventually, you will shake with REAL laughter, and, as a result, feel and look fantastic, your blood pumping like billy-o and your brain’s Happy Chemicals doing a conga through your synapses.”

“Speaking of science, studies suggest that laughter therapy can benefit both physique and psyche. And there is much medical interest in the possible uses of laughter in pain management – especially after research by the experimental psychology department at Oxford University indicated that group laughter significantly raises one’s pain threshold. Recently, the same team carried out PET scans that mapped increases in endorphin activity in the brain during laughter.

Professor Robin Dunbar, who led the Oxford research, says there is ‘no question’ that laughter therapy can be applied in a medical context, for both physical and psychological pain – and that Laughter Yoga is ‘bizarre – but it works’. How? ‘The key question is whether the exaggerated laughter exercises in Laughter Yoga would trigger an endorphin response. Now, we assume that one thing that can trigger the endorphin system is stress on the chest from a rapid series of exhalations – the rapid contractions of the chest wall and diaphragm muscles to exhale air. I could well believe that the kind of exercises done in Laughter Yoga, because they are quite physically powerful, are sufficient in their own right to do that.’ And endorphins, he adds, are ’30 times more powerful
than morphine’. Can they help with emotional distress too? Yup. ‘Psychological pain involves exactly the same areas of the brain as physical pain,’ says Dunbar. ‘So endorphins will work for both.'”

“Afterwards, everyone’s grinning, aglow, like they’ve just had a fantastic facial, and I bliss out on how liberating it is to genuinely lose it, to regress to kindergarten carefreeness. The day ahead seems full of sparkle and spangly promise, and I roll through it, fresh and ultra-focused, in a way that’s light and bright and bouncy and, frankly, bloody brilliant. ”

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