By: Kat Eftink

Have you ever wondered how people around the world find peace and happiness? Look no further than their wellness rituals! Let’s explore practices from five different countries that can help you relax and live a more fulfilling life. 

India: Laughter Yoga

Dr. Madan Kataria discovered laughter yoga in 1995. At the time, he was a family physician in Mumbai and the editor of a health magazine called, “My Doctor.” Due to the amount of work from working two jobs, his stress levels were high. While he was working on an article for, “My Doctor,” he wrote, “Laughter is the best medicine.” 

He thought, if laughter is so good, why not start a laughter club? So, he did. The club started with a group of 5. They met at a park, and they laughed while telling jokes. The club grew and grew, but eventually, they ran out of jokes. 

That’s when he thought of creating a technique about laughing without telling jokes. He discovered that if you pretend to laugh, your brain and body don’t know the difference. “Fake it till you make it,” Dr. Kataria said. Laughter is contagious, and eventually you won’t be faking it. 

There are many techniques. One is Namaste Laughter, where you are in the namaste position looking into someone’s eyes and laughing. There’s argumentative laughter where you point at your partner, angrily, and laugh. Also, cell phone laughter where you pretend to be on the phone while laughing. 

There are 100s of techniques for laughter yoga, but the point is just to let loose. Dr. Kataria started with just five people, and now, laughter yoga is used in over 120 countries. 

Japan: Shinrin Yoku 

Shinrin Yoku, or forest bathing, is the practice of immersing yourself in nature and taking it in through all your senses. The point is to slow down and take in your surroundings because spending time in nature makes us feel good. 

In order to tap into all of your senses, you must disconnect to reconnect. So, turn off your phone and just slow down. Make sure you try and notice everything around you. Notice your breathing and the patterns in the forest, the movement in the leaves, and the bugs crawling. Listen to the wind whispering through the trees and the birds chirping– listen to nature’s music. Feel the leaves, and the bark on the tree, or take your shoes off and feel the soil between your toes. 

If you can’t get out in nature, bring nature to you. Get some house plants and tree essential oils. Create a green space in your home.

Norway: Friluftsliv 

Friluftsliv can be broken down into three parts. Fri means free. Luft means air, and liv means life. Friluftsliv is the philosophy of having a simple, outdoor life without disturbing nature. It has been a part of Norwegian culture for over 5,000 years. 

In Norway, friluftsliv is everywhere. For example, parents love to put their children in firluftlsiv kindergarten where they spend 80% of their time outside. Norway even has a friluftsliv law, called the 1957 Outdoor Recreation Act, which allows anyone to roam freely in nature, even on all private properties.  

Friluftsliv relies on trust within the community. Everyone works together and volunteers to ensure the outdoor spaces stay beautiful.

México: Temazcal 

Temazcal is an ancestral meso-americano ceremony that has been passed down for over 5,000 years. The ritual is a form of medicine that is believed to cure illnesses and purify the body. It acts as a symbol of rebirth.

The ceremony is led by a Shaman, or spiritual healer, and it takes place inside a dome-like shape. Imagine an igloo made from sticks and blankets or bricks that’s very hot inside. Heat is trapped inside the dome by stones that were set on fire. They pour water over the stones filling the air with smoke. Inside the dome is hot, dark, smokey, and potentially crowded, so it’s important to focus on yourself and your breathing. 

Some Shamans will have you sing and play drums, pray, or scream to let your inner problems out. Once the ceremony is over and you step out of the dome, it’s like you’re taking your first breath. The air is crisp and fresh compared to the smokey thick air inside of the dome. Temazcal is a tricky medicine that can test your boundaries. It’s a sacred ritual that requires full participation to reap the benefits. 

Denmark: Hygge

Hygge is a Danish term that means the pursuit of everyday happiness. Hygge is socializing for introverts by being consciously cozy and creating a cozy atmosphere. Hygge is Danish culture. 

It’s not just about cozy sweaters, fuzzy socks, or laying under a warm blanket. It’s also about candy, cake, hot chocolate, and alcohol. It might not be the healthiest wellness practice, but it’s about being the happiest. In fact, Denmark is ranked the second happiest country in the world.

Hygge is about spending time with the ones you love, feeling comfortable, and enjoying delicious food and drink. It can describe any situation that brings joy and comfort. It’s an appreciation of those feelings that are above all else.

From laughter yoga in India to forest bathing in Japan, there are countless ways to incorporate wellness rituals into your daily routine. No matter where you live or what your interests are, there’s a practice out there that can help you de-stress and live a happier, healthier life. So why not give one of these a try today? You might just be surprised at how good it makes you feel.

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