Laughter therapy reduces stress and peaks performance
The world’s first studies on unconditional laughter confirm that laughter sessions at work can significantly reduce stress and increase work effectiveness.
Two studies, one in America and one in India, examine the effects of unconditional laughter using a technique developed by Dr Madan Kataria, an Indian medical doctor known as "the founder of laughter yoga". This exercise technique started in 1995 in India and has swept the world, with more than 5,000 laughter clubs meeting in more than 50 countries including the USA.
“I have always believed that laughter sessions were beneficial” said Dr Kataria, “but I was surprised how conclusive the results of this scientific research are. One study shows improvements in work effectiveness of more than 100 percent, and the other confirms major stress reduction and a remarkable increase in emotional intelligence skills, which are required for career and life success.
"It is significant that these results were achieved in just three weeks,” says Dr Kataria.
Scientists have long known that laughter causes the body to reduce stress levels and to become healthy, but until now there has been no reliable way of prescribing or delivering laughter to give patients these benefits.
Dr Kataria’s technique approaches laughter as a form of body exercise and enables extended sessions of hearty laughter on demand without the use of jokes or humor. Because the brain is not involved in deciding to laugh this is known as ‘unconditional laughter’. Participants claim to feel benefits after just one session.
“This exercise is fun and easy to do,” says Kataria “and it makes you feel joyful as well as providing a great aerobic workout. People enjoy it so much they keep coming back for more.”
US Laughter Study
The US study shows that short daily laughter sessions significantly improve work performance. A group of thirty-three employees in a behavioral health center laughed together daily for 15 minutes for 15 days.
Researchers measured self efficacy, a term used to describe a group of twelve characteristics that reflect overall work effectiveness. Participants’ self-competency scores more than doubled, relational competencies increased by almost 50% and role competency also doubled during the study.
All participants improved from being classed as ‘having potential for growth and development’ before the laughter sessions to ‘company assets with enhanced abilities who can perform under stress’. The improvements remained significant in further tests 2-3 months later.
India Laughter Study
The second study focused on measuring changes in stress levels before and after three weeks of unconditional laughter sessions for staff at three separate IT companies. Researchers carefully measured physical, psychological and emotional indicators of stress.
The laughter group showed a significant decrease in stress levels reflected in reduced heart rate and blood pressure, reduced cortisol levels and an 11% decrease in perceived stress levels. Other indicators confirmed that all participants showed significantly lower stress levels after three weeks of laughter sessions.
Laugh for a Healthy Heart
Dr Michael Miller, a leading US heart researcher shows in his research that hearty laughter can significantly improve cardiovascular health. His groundbreaking studies confirm that laughter helps blood vessels function better and can protect against heart attacks.
Anyone can do laughter yoga and benefit, young, aged, fit or infirm. It is fun and easy. There are no postures or skills to learn and the benefits are instant. Companies are also using and benefiting from laughter yoga as it is an ideal ice-breaker, teambuilding and de-stressing exercise. Corporate laughter yoga sessions are available in South Africa.
Laughter Yoga in South Africa
Dr Madan Kataria, the founder of Laughter Yoga came to SA in February 2007 to train the first Certified Laughter Yoga Leaders. Today there are 80 leaders in SA, mainly in Gauteng and the Cape.
Laughter sessions are especially popular with business, with some of SA's largest companies enjoying the benefits of laughter in HR training and as team and energy building icebreakers for conferences and seminars.
Read more about the laughter yoga history and technique.
It has been featured on three SA TV shows, including Kwela and Free Spirit and on a great many radio interviews. Print coverage includes Cosmo, Longevity and major newspapers. Laughter yoga is the best possible start to any festive event, especially company Christmas Parties where it guarantees a joyful, caring and sharing mood. Visit the website to see a Laughter Yoga seminar and try it for yourself and see videos of laughter sessions.
Janine Grobler is a Certified Laughter Practitioner and also a Certificated Laughter Yoga Teacher. She was one of the first laughter practitioners to be trained by Dr. Kataria during his visit to South Africa in February 2007. Janine went on to qualify and become the first Laughter Yoga teacher in South Africa. This means that Janine can train and certificate laughter practitioners for Laughter Yoga International and Dr. Kataria’s School of Laughter Yoga. Janine also travels across South Africa to conduct laughter sessions at Corporate events. For more information, contact Janine: cell 082 516 7047; e-mail: or go to www.LaughSA.com