LaughingRx Laughter for Cancer Patients / Cancer Survivors and their families
Nira Berry, founder of LaughingRx is a breast cancer survivor herself and has used the power of laughter for many years to manage her pain when needed, boost her immune system and to promote a positive outlook and feeling of overall well-being
Read Nira's Story for more info. on Nira's cancer journey and the power of Laughter
LaughingRx holds classes and private one-on-one sessions for cancer survivors during and post treatment. Classes are adapted to the participants needs.
Nira provides laughter programs for support groups, symposiums, retreats and conferences.
Testimonial from a LaughingRx cancer patient class participant:
"I just had a miracle!" Louise L. said to everyone in
Nira's LaughingRx class at The Hope Connections (previously Wellness Community), Bethesda, Maryland, May 2, 2008.
I haven't been able to bend my right knee to sit down or stand up for the past two years. I've had so many treatments that haven't worked. I've had water removed from my knee, I've had cortisone shots, nothing has helped me. After 1 hour class with Nira and participating in her LaughingRx class, I am able to stand and sit down without any pain. I am able to stand and sit down using my right knee! It's miraculous. I've always heard that laughing is the best medicine, but this is a miracle. This will change the quality of my life. I can't wait to get to the next LaughingRx class with Nira."
Nira Berry recently has been a key-note speaker several times for Suburban Hospital's Breast Cancer Symposium for several hundred breast cancer patients and survivors. "The audience was roaring with laughter and gave me a great feeling that I was helping these women and men in their healing journey." Nira Berry
Laughter Yoga and
The number of people suffering from cancer is rising constantly. Scientists say the most common cause of cancer is stress. Extreme physical, mental and emotional stress weakens our immune system.
Scientific studies have proved that hearty laughter has a powerful and immediate
strengthening effect on our immune system.
Laughter quickly increases immunoglobulin levels that help fight infection and increases the number of Natural Killer Cells (NK cells) in the blood. Natural killer cells play a key role in cancer prevention. Scientist/researcher, Dr. Lee Berk took blood samples from subjects watching humorous videos and found that natural killer cells increased significantly with laughter. The NK cells in blood samples from laughing subjects quickly killed cancer cells he introduced into the samples.
The Healing Effects of Laughter in Cancer Patients
When someone is struck with cancer it leads to intense stress and fear.
How can laughter yoga help? Laughter exercises as a physical intervention leads to real physiological and biochemical changes in our body that have a profound effect on the development of cancer, reduces anxiety, and helps you cope with life
Laughter yoga provides a non-intellectual path to laughter. Cancer patients may be in emotional turmoil and become
depressed, making it difficult for them to achieve laughter through intellectual stimuli like humorous videos. Laughter yoga approaches laughter as a body exercise that can easily be done regardless
Laughter helps counter stress and fear. Hearty laughter causes the brain to release chemicals that reduce stress within minutes. It is typical to measure a 70% reduction in stress indicators after just 10 minutes of laughter.
Laughter promotes a positive outlook. Hearty laughter quickly counters depression and negative outlook, especially when practiced within a group of peers. This is partly due to chemicals released by the brain and partly caused by a powerful emotional response to the group dynamics of laughter yoga.
A positive mental state is very important when a person is fighting a deadly disease.
Nira's Laughter exercises helps you deal with pain. Hearty laughter causes the brain to release endorphin, a natural morphine that is also responsible for the ‘runner’s high’. A typical laughter yoga session can provide several hours of pain relief without drugs, making it easier for patients to retain full control of their mental abilities and keep their spirits high.
Laughter oxygenates the body. Ten minutes of hearty laughter super-oxygenizes the body and all major organs. Ongoing cancer research shows a strong relationship between oxygen in our cells and the development of cancer.
Nobel Prize winner (twice in the field of medicine) Dr Otto Warburg has shown the strong connection of oxygen in the cells to health. He says we fall sick due to lack of oxygen in our body cells. The lack of oxygen is due to poor breathing habits caused by stress and negative mindset. This causes us to breathe shallow, irregular breaths and hold are breath when under stress.
Nira's LaughingRx laughter yoga exercises uses a combination of laughter exercises and yoga breathing to train our diaphragm and abdominal muscles to breathe deeply. This increases the net supply of oxygen to body cells and can play a significant role in preventing cancer by increasing oxygen levels in the body cells.
Letter from Australia
Greatly inspired by Laughter Yoga Clubs I started to laugh all by myself every day after meditation. The laughter exercises include chants of Ho Ho, Ha Ha and deep breathing. I also do these exercises even while walking. I allow myself to be spontaneous and childlike and make funny movements. I even sing some positive affirmations like:
I am happy tee hee hee; I am free tee hee hee; I am healthy tee hee hee; I am strong tee hee hee…
Regular practice of laughing alone has had a tremendous effect on my health condition. Though suffering from a tumor for some time, I can feel it getting smaller. Even my specialist was amazed when he realized it had shrunk remarkably. He canceled the radiotherapy and said,’ I am happy to keep an eye on it for now. I really believe it’s laughter, meditation and positive affirmations that have worked so wonderfully together.’
I also think laughter is anti-aging. Though I’m 60 I feel very energetic, there is less pain and I can easily do a lot of things. People remark I look much better and younger! -Des Nicholson Melbourne Australia
Letter from USA
I am a Registered Nurse and had breast cancer 4 years ago. I became interested in laughter yoga as part of my recovery. I can personally confirm that the laughter has helped my immune system, has helped me maintain a positive attitude and pull myself out of a negative state and that yogic breathing has been important in my recovery. I have been cancer free so far for 4 years now. I have not had a cold or been sick in 20 months so far. I have been doing laughter yoga regularly for 2 years. - Marlene Chhertok USA
Laughter Lowers Blood Pressure:
New Medical Study:
According to a new study presented at the American Society of Hypertension 2008 Annual Meeting, laughter in the context of laughter yoga can significantly lower blood pressure and reduce cortisol, or stress hormone, levels. Laughter yoga is a combination of laughter exercises, gentle yoga breathing, and stretching. The investigators of the study evaluated 200 people, both men and women, working in the information technology industry in India. These individuals participated in seven 20-30 minute laughter yoga sessions, where they alternated 45 seconds to one minute of laughter with deep breathing and stretching exercises.
After three weeks, the investigators found that laughter yoga participants experienced significant reductions in their baseline blood pressures, as well as their cortisol levels. Participants also filled out questionnaires which showed that their perceived levels of stress were also lower.
According to Dr. Madan Kataria, the lead investigator of the study, laughter needs to be prolonged in order to bring about physiological and biochemical changes. And, you don't even need to feel happy while you laugh, as long as you laugh heartily for an extended period of time. There are 6000 laughter clubs in 60 countries where people practice laughter yoga, so perhaps there's one near you where you can laugh all the way to better health.
Adapted from Heartwire -- a professional news service of WebMD Chaya MS, Kataria M, Nagendra R, et al. The effects of hearty extended unconditional (HEU) laughter using laughter yoga techniques on physiological, psychological, and immunological parameters in the workplace: a randomized control trial. American Society of Hypertension 2008 Annual Meeting; May 14, 2008; New Orleans, LA.
Factors that undermine wellness – how Laughter Yoga reverses them
Weak immune system: The weakening of the immune system due to physical illness or mental stress and depression undermines the health condition and leads to numerous complications.
Regular practice of Laughter Yoga (laughter exercises) boosts the immune system which is the key to good health. This is due to an increase in immune enhancers and a decrease in the production of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine which weaken immunity. Research conducted by Lee Berk, an immunologist at California's Loma Linda University Medical Center, has centered on these areas and supports the idea that not only does laughing have beneficial effects on the immune system; it may even combat certain diseases
Low self esteem: LaughingRx Laughter Yoga workshop/class/event is a powerful tool for personal development and self confidence. It helps to overcome inhibitions and shyness and eases out awkwardness. Laughter and smiling not only helps to communicate with others effectively but also creates a safe environment for others to connect and come closer. This goes a long way in achieving success in business, personal and social life.
Stress and depression: Stress and depression are two major components of ill health. They diminish all sense of rationality and reasoning. A person suffering from stress in rendered unable to cope with the realities of life and undergoes tremendous mental anguish, which at times can manifest itself in physical form of sickness and disease.
Laughter Yoga is an instant stress buster. It has been scientifically proved that laughter reduces stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine and enhances positive emotions. Laughter switches on all that stress switches off.
Humor: Modern stressors and worries overshadow one’s sense of humor – People find it hard to laugh. Nira's laughingRx Laughter Yoga exercises are a simple exercise that does not rely on jokes or humor. Laughter is simulated physically but soon turns into real and contagious laughter and playfulness. It also helps to find one’s lost sense of humor. This enables people to laugh off their stress and they are able to exhibit an overall improvement in their well being and performance.
Shallow breathing: This is one of the major causal factors in the upkeep of wellness. Negative emotions constrict the supply of oxygen and induce shallow chest breathing. Laughter exercises are devised to facilitate longer exhalation and deep breathing through the diaphragm. This helps in flushing the lungs of stale residual air and increasing the net supply of oxygen. It also provides an excellent cardio and mid-body workout. The heart rate increase in one minute of hearty laughter can take ten minutes to achieve on exercise machines.
Poor circulation: Physical disease or mental problems all counter wellness. They restrict circulation and slow down the body system. Research has shown that laughter causes an ‘internal jogging’ that massages and promotes circulation to the digestive and lymphatic systems. It increases circulation to flush the body and organs of waste products leaving us ready to operate at peak performance. It even flushes the facial muscles and leaves the skin glowing and radiant.
Pent up feelings: Suppressed or blocked emotions can cause ongoing physical, mental and emotional problems. Their release can be life changing. Laughter provides an excellent non-violent method for emotional release and catharsis.
Laughter exercises are an effective remedy to release these pent up feelings through emotional catharsis. By enhancing the free flow of emotions, laughter can dislodge blocked emotions stored in the body.
Social withdrawal: Constant negative strains in life force people to withdraw. Feelings of isolation and loneliness restrict social interaction and relationships. LaughingRx is idyllic to improve relations as a way to generate a caring and sharing atmosphere and is a catalyst for bonding and creating friendships. Group dynamics of a LaughingRx workshop or class facilitates an easy outflow of stress and depression thereby promoting wellness.
Lack of exercise: Exercise is known to slow the aging process. Sedentary lifestyles and lack of time leads to reduced mobility and several physical complications. LaughingRx Laughter Yoga is a fun and easy exercise for all age groups and has a very high stick-with-it level. Dr William Fry, a well-known research scientist, who studied physiological effects of laughter, found that just 10 minutes of hearty laughter is equal to 10 minutes on a rowing machine!! This is in respect to cardiopulmonary endurance. The heart rate of 120 can be achieved much faster through laughing than running on the jogging track!! Therefore, Laughter Yoga is ideally suited for busy professionals and business people who have little or no time to exercise.
Maintains Emotional Balance
Emotional reaction is one of the major causes of stress and undermining relationships.
It is comparatively easy to manage physical or mental stress but it's complex to handle emotional stress which can arise due to problems at home or at work, faulty relationships and several other strained situations. Faced with such circumstances, people find it hard to express their feelings and emotions. As a result, they suppress their emotions.
Laughter Yoga helps free flow of emotions and releasing pent up feelings. It defuses painful emotions like fear, anger and boredom thus preventing conflicts, easing tension and helping to us to understand and comprehend the other person’s point of view.
Not only does it release these negative emotions, it also cultivates positive emotions like unconditional love, generosity, openness, compression and willingness to help and serve others.
Scientific data also proves laughter to be an integral part of physical wellness. Dr. William Fry of Stanford University has demonstrated that laughing 200 times burns off the same amount of calories as 10 minutes on the rowing machine.
Another study reveals that after a bout of laughter, blood pressure drops to a lower healthier level than before the laughter began.
Laughter Yoga also increases the blood supply, increases the energy level, relaxes muscles, and works out all major internal systems like the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
Furthermore, researchers report that laughter also affects the immune system. According to Dr. Lee Berk of the Loma Linda School of Public Health in California, laughing makes it grow stronger, with the body’s T-cells, natural killer cells and antibodies all showing signs of increased activity.
Laughter Yoga is the easiest and the safest way to good health. Being both preventive and therapeutic, it has is a powerful tool for complete wellness.
Laughter Yoga And Allergies – Asthma And Bronchitis
Causal factors of asthma – how Laughter Yoga can help Teen / childhood asthma
Scientific studies have proved that respiratory allergies like asthma and bronchitis are caused not only by physical allergens but also by a negative state of mind. In fact, the rise in the incidence of childhood and teen asthma is a worrying fact and has led to several research trying to ascertain the causal factors - the results of which have shown an obvious connect between an emotional state and asthma. Though nothing is certain yet, one knows that stress does play a major role in triggering these symptoms and bringing on debilitating physical conditions accompanied by mental upset.
We are subjected to constant (or chronic) stress that results in the continuous release of stress-related substances into the body. Without time to dissipate, the stress ‘cocktail’ can reach toxic concentrations and attack the body, resulting in a wide variety of stress-related illness including respiratory allergies which affect the breathing pattern and can at times lead to severe condition of breathlessness.
Asthma and bronchitis are both common chronic lung conditions that makes breathing difficult when the airways react to certain triggers or inducers causing airways to tighten, swell and fill with mucus. The lungs get less air which can cause wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and trouble breathing.
Laughter Yoga has a profound positive impact on allergies, with many practitioners reporting complete disappearance of all symptoms of asthma, skin and other allergies. Though not an intervention for countering physical causes of allergies, laughter is a definite tool to remedy stress. It can help in reducing the risk factors by boosting the immune system, encouraging deep breathing and flushing the lungs of stale air and generating a feeling of wellness.
LaughingRx laughter yoga combines laughter with yogic breathing. It encourages deep diaphragmatic breathing which can have a positive effect on asthma. It also increases the number and activity level of natural killer cells, which attack virus-infected cells and keep allergies at bay.
According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Hajime Kimata of Unitika Central Hospital, Japan, studied the effects of laughter on patients allergic to dust mites, cedar pollen and cat dander. Skin prick tests using a commercial allergen were performed on 26 patients before and after they viewed the Charlie Chaplin comedy Modern Times. During the same procedure, a control group watched a video featuring weather information.
The results showed that allergic reactions of comedy watchers were reduced for four hours after the screening. In contrast, there was no effect on allergic responses of weather watchers.
Causal factors of asthma – how Laughter Yoga can help
Stress: Living in a constant worry cycle and faced with major stressors, one succumbs easily to the physical symptoms of stress, which can lead to asthmatic conditions and other allergic reactions. Laughter Yoga is an effective method to reduce stress. It improves the prognosis of the disease and helps in lowering the levels of stress-related poisons in the body. It has the ability to reduce or even clear allergic reactions.
Hearty extended laughter is one of the best exercises for those suffering from asthma and bronchitis. It improves lung capacity and oxygen levels in the blood. It also flushes the lungs, strengthens the diaphragm and promotes healthier diaphragmatic breathing.
Diaphragm Breathing: The usual prescription for asthmatic patients is chest physiotherapy to remove mucous (phlegm) from the respiratory passages. Blowing forcefully into an instrument and blowing balloons is one of the common exercises given to asthmatics. Laughter Yoga does the same job, more easily and at no cost.
Many people previously suffering from asthma and bronchitis who practice Laughter Yoga daily in laughter clubs report marked reductions in the frequency and severity of their attacks. In many cases their symptoms have disappeared completely within months of daily laughter sessions.
Immune System By boosting the immune system, Laughter Yoga increases antibody levels in the mucous membranes of the respiratory passages, thereby reducing the frequency of chest infections. It also tones up the mucous clearing system of the bronchial tubes.
Frequent belly laughter empties your lungs of more air than it takes in resulting in a cleansing effect similar to deep breathing. This can be especially beneficial for patients who are suffering from emphysema and other respiratory ailments.
Research has confirmed that negative emotions can trigger allergic skin reactions. Disorders like hay fever and eczema are regulated, in part, by hormones and neuropeptides released into the bloodstream in response to stress.
Laughter Yoga increases the level of positive hormones and neuropeptides in the bloodstream thereby reducing the risk of skin allergies. It helps to increase T cells (T lymphocytes) and the antibody IgA (immunoglobulin A), which fights upper respiratory tract infections.
Teen / Childhood Asthma
Teens with asthma tend to be more depressed and more likely to use drugs and alcohol. “This high frequency of depression in adolescents with asthma is most likely a consequence of a disease that impedes breathing, interferes with age-level activities, and complicates the adolescent process of developing a self-identity different from family," according to Bruce G. Bender, PhD, National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, Colorado.
Laughter exercises are ideally suited for young teens as it quickly helps to change the mood state by releasing endorphins, natural opiates that generate feelings of comfort and safety. Laughter Yoga helps one to cope with difficult situations and releases pent up emotions through the process of catharsis.
Though the most common cause of childhood asthma and respiratory allergies is genetic and physical, emotional stress caused by anxiety, anger or frustrations are also childhood asthma triggers. Children to day are faced with numerous stressors and pressures that can negatively alter the breathing pattern resultingin hyperventilation and rapid breathing that can further worsen an asthma attack.
Laughter Yoga is a powerful tool to remedy the immune system and reduce the negative triggers that bring on allergies. It focuses on all the aspects of well being – physical and mental. While the physiological healing power of laughter helps in recovery, the psychological takes care of the mental stress and depression that can reduce the incidence.
It teaches one to breathe correctly using the diaphragm, thereby increasing the net supply of oxygen to the body and the brain and using the lungs to the fullest capacity. It is the best prescription to curb the attacks and is a great preventive.
Testimonial May 2010:
The "Women's Group" loved
our laughing session. I am actually practicing the exercises
in the morning and I think it may be working. Thanks for all the info and
JOY Marcus, Potomac, MD
people who make me laugh. I honestly think it's the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It's probably the most important thing in a person."
"Laughter has changed my life. I feel much lighter and happier."
--Maj Brigette, Copenhagen, Denmark
Please consult your physician before starting any new exercise regimen or reducing your medication.
To find out more contact:
The Happiness Coach
Hi Nira, my colleague Meghann Schwartz met you over the weekend, and I wanted to contact you. I do programming for a number of women engagements for the Jewish Federation in Howard County, and I'd
like to get more information about what you do. Specifically, since we are very small with a limited budget, what do you charge? Hope to hear from you.
Thank you Nira for your uplifting laughter program for our annual meeting! Everyone was smiling for hours following!
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