It’s no joke—Start laughing to help your depression

By Lynn Santa Lucia

When you don’t have your laughter, you’ve lost your soul,” says Tanaz B., 57, of Indiana.

Tanaz lived with severe depression, in and out of hospitals for a decade, until “laughter became my mission,” she says. Now she not only makes it a point to laugh regularly, she teaches others how to do the same—and this is no joke—as a certified Laughter Yoga teacher and ambassador.

 

It turns out there’s some truth to the old saying that laughter is the best medicine—or at least a pretty good one. Tanaz’s psychiatrist, Suhayl J. Nasr, MD, has come to see laughter as a powerful coping mechanism and possibly a natural antidote for stress and severe depression.

“The therapeutic action of laughter on depression is striking,” says Nasr, medical director of Memorial Hospital’s psychiatric center. “[Talk] therapy does help a lot, but laughter has an interesting way of changing brain chemistry.”

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Laughter Yoga in Nwitimes

One of the biggest challenges about exercise is that it can become so tedious. Hitting the gym for the same routine can become the physical equivalent of a visit to the dentist or filling out a tax form. As many infomercials offer “painless” ways to burn calories, almost none can deliver on the offer.

Laughter Yoga

Laughter yoga, an activity from India that’s currently sweeping the Midwest, truly can offer a painless form of exercise. In a laughter yoga class, a group of people gets together and literally laughs for health and wellness. Each class begins with breathing exercises, followed by a “ho-ho-ha-ha” forced laughter. Eventually, the forced laughter becomes naturally contagious, with the entire group producing loud belly laughs. In addition to working core muscles, laughter yoga is also an activity for the mind and soul, shedding stress and creating a more positive outlook on life. The Cancer Care Center of Pittsburgh is now using laughter yoga, where doctors have found that the positive mental attitude achieved through laughter yoga gives patients a better chance at successful treatment.

As America continues to fight unusually high bouts of mental health issues, laughter yoga is gaining popularity to antidepressants, the number one most prescribed drug category in this country.

Tanaz Bamboat, the only certified laughter yoga instructor in Chicago and Northwest Indiana, knows the incredible healing powers of the activity. Bamboat returned to her native India to study laughter yoga with Dr. Madan Kataria, who created the activity in 1995 with just five people in his first class. The movement has since grown to include more than 600 clubs in 60 countries.

“Laughter yoga brought me out of severe depression,” Tanaz explains. “It’s now my mission to take this gift I’ve been given, and share it with others. As anxiety over the economy and job loss increases, more people than ever are finding healing and relief in my classes.”

To learn more, contact Tanaz at 219.838.1837
or
Visit laughteryoga.org.

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