The saying goes ‘laughter is the best medicine’. Well we put this saying to the test by welcoming Laughter Yoga teacher Harish Chavda to Zee Companion.

Laughter Yoga is a new concept that combines laughter with yogic breathing. You do not have to focus on the breathing, as laughing automatically makes you breathe differently. This sends more oxygen to the brain.

To laugh seems so simple! It is something we all do in our everyday lives. So I wanted to know more about the origins and how a simple, everyday occurrence has been turned into yoga?

Harish explained how 20 years ago, a doctor in Mumbai, India, formed a laughter club where they shared jokes. Eventually they ran out of jokes, so he developed laughter exercises instead.

There are two types of laughter, Harish explained. One is a natural phenomenon where you laugh while watching a comedy or a stand-up comedian; the other is when you laugh for no reason. However, the body does not know the difference between the two so you get the same benefit from laughter exercises.

There are many different types of exercises and Harish demonstrated four types on the show:

  • Mobile-phone laughter
  • Milkshake laughter
  • 1-meter laughter
  • Mexican wave laughter

Alongside the props including a teddy-bear called Tommy, and colourful wigs on our heads, there was a lot of laughter! As I joined in with Harish’s demonstrations, I felt warm which he explained was due to the blood circulation increasing in my body.

When you laugh, the entire body moves externally which means you must be having an effect internally too. Laughter works on the diaphragm and opens up your chest and lungs so all of your organs are exercised – like when jogging but internally.

There are many mental benefits to laughing. Harish said he has used laughter yoga to help cancer patients, those suffering from mental illnesses, senior citizens and corporations.

For those suffering from cancer or mental illnesses may feel down, so laughter helps them and gives them a boost alongside their medicines and treatments. It can be used as a supplement, unless advised against doing so by a doctor or GP.

But is laughter really the best medicine and does this saying has any scientific approval? Harish described a book entitled ‘Anatomy of Illness’ by Norman Cousins in which Cousins was diagnosed with an illness that doctors could not cure. However, he cured himself through laughter and humour and documented this in his book. Extraordinary!

Senior citizens, Harish continued to explain, feel lonely and abandoned which can make them feel down, so laughing helps them. And it helps corporations in team-building exercises and with de-stressing as it releases positive endorphins.

One of the top tips and pieces of advice Harish left our viewers with is that everyone should laugh at least once a day. He stated that when he is stuck in traffic, he laughs so that he brings positive thoughts in and breaks the cycle of negativity. It also takes your mind off the situation at hand.

Life has become so serious so it is good to laugh and lighten up… sounds good to me!

 In the second half of the show, national champion and former Olympic Tae Kwon Do champion Dylan Ayaloor joined me to discuss and demonstrate Hot Power, otherwise known as Vinyasa, yoga.

With an agile physic, Dylan demonstrated various positions that synchronise movement and breathing. He also showed various exercises, from beginner to intermediate, to improve both flexibility and strength.

Some of the benefits of power yoga include focusing on balancing flexibility and strength which is difficult in other workouts. For example, visiting the gym oftentimes focuses on one area of the body whereas power yoga works out the body as a whole.

There are many mental benefits to vinyasa yoga as it focuses on breathing. Dylan recommended breathing and moving when in a stressful situation. So physically remove yourself from the situation by going to another location, and then spend some time breathing in and out.

Dylan found power yoga transformational and explained how he finds it powerful. It is tied to our emotions. So, he explained, if somebody is suffering from depression, if you turn them upside down, it is impossible for them to feel depressed because the brain turns things around with the physical movement of being upside down.

Different people will find it better to practise yoga at different times of the day. If you are a morning person, Dylan stated, it is better to practise yoga when the sun is rising at around 6am.

The top tips and advice he left our audience with what that every day you should try to get into your body by practising yoga. Like a cat stretches when it wakes up, this is a natural occurrence. In the same way, your body will know exactly how to move so go with it and flow with it.

And if you can, get yourself to a yoga class!