Laughter yoga may be a good thing to start practicing this holiday season if you don't already laugh often. Year end brings festivities, family obligations and stress for many. As a vegan, do you choose to get argumentative with “close-minded” meat eaters, or do you focus on your own growing mindfulness? If holiday frustrations are making you stressed, laughter yoga may help.
Laughter Yoga And The Happy Vegan
In my own experience, I know I cannot simply change the mind of relatives who delight in meat eating. These relatives scoff at the notion that meat may cause cancer. I had no idea how deeply set their convictions were until what I thought was a casual conversation about healthy eating turned ugly. “How ridiculous to think that meat causes cancer!” was a shared sentiment at a recent family reunion dinner. I had a decision to make: should I insist on my perspective, or relax and enjoy the party? I chose laughter yoga.
Laughing exercises help melt self-induced stress
Laughter yoga, an exercise that combines laughter exercises with yoga breathing, was born in a public park in 1995 with Dr. Madan Kataris. Here is how he began:
While researching the benefits of laughter, he was amazed by the number of studies showing profound physiological and psychological benefits of laughter. He [Dr. Kataris] decided to find a way to deliver these benefits to his patients and other people. The result is Laughter Yoga, a unique exercise routine that combines group laughter exercises with yoga breathing which allows anyone to laugh without using jokes, humor or comedies. Started with just with just five people in a public park in Mumbai in 1995, it has grown into a worldwide movement of more than 6000 Laughter Yoga clubs in over 60 countries. Read more at Laughter Yoga.
Laughter Yoga can have unexpected benefits
As I grow stronger in my commitment to a vegan path, it's more important to me to explore healthy non-animal food choices than to fall into arguments with non-vegans. After all, I used to be a serious meat eater just like them. Lately, I've been focusing on laughing instead of getting upset because of another's point of view. This has not only melted much of my stress, but also empowered me in ways I did not expect. I find it easier to make vegan choices daily, and the arguments of non-vegans don't cause anger or doubts in my own head.
Decades ago, Napoleon Hill said that laughter helps change the chemistry of the brain. He was doing laughter yoga long before it was ever coined as a concept. He suggested starting the day with a good laugh:
Adopt the habit of having a good hearted laugh every time you become irritated or angry. Begin each day with one minute of hearty laughing; this will change the chemistry of your brain and start you off with a positive mental attitude. Read more at Daring to Live Fully.
On the next page is a sampling of laughter videos to help get you started. Click on the round 3 below to watch them: