Laughter Yoga Creates Some Serious Laughs
I was so excited when I won Linda and Bill Hamaker’s Laughter Club session during a silent auction. The club runs monthly groups very close by but, frankly, I was too embarrassed to try it out with a bunch of people I didn’t know. I have no problem profusely sweating with a bunch of strangers, but laughing? Fuggedabowdit.
I invited ten of my closest female buds and instructed them, as per Linda, to dress comfortably and bring water bottles. Although neither of them had even heard of laughter yoga, each was game to give it a try. I’m fortunate to have an abundance of fun and amazing women in my life.
Laughter Yoga began in Mumbai, India, with Dr. Madan Kataria, in 1995. As a physician, he’d studied the benefits of laughter on health, such as a strengthened immune system and lower blood pressure. The concept was brought to America by Sebastian Gendry, who opened the American School of Laughter Yoga.
We started the session by standing together in a circle. After some easy stretching and breathing exercises, we sat and introduced ourselves. After each introduction, the guest had to laugh. In Laughter Yoga, it’s okay to fake a laugh. The idea is that the body doesn’t know the difference between fake or real. The benefits are the same. Of course, as Bill Hamaker points out, fake laughter “pretty quickly turns into real laughter”. And so it did.
The exercises we did included pretending to cut each other’s hair, to carry around a big earth, and speaking in jibberish. We all felt a little wackers about the whole experience, but it didn’t matter. Silly as the exercises were, they had us laughing. And laughter is contagious, so the more we laughed, well, the more we laughed.
Although not everyone knew each other in this session, it didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. Bill and Linda did a great job making everyone feel comfortable. Safe. As adults, we don’t laugh enough. We’re often self-conscious or just too busy. When we do laugh, it’s usually as a result of some outside force, like a movie or a show. Laughter yoga shows you how to create laughter on your own. Of course, laughing with others is even better.
So did it work? Did I feel better afterward? I think today’s laughter session was one of the best workouts I’ve had in a while. There is nothing like a belly laugh, so now imagine a whole hour of belly-laughing. My shoulders and back felt so loose after. My face was flushed. All our faces were flushed. After the session, my friend, Sue, said her back and shoulder pain were gone. Julie said she was still stress-free, hours later. Nancy quipped, “My stomach still hurts.”
Honestly, this experience was so much fun, I’m thinking of earning my certification as an instructor. Because really, who couldn’t use more laughter in her life?
For more information about laughter yoga, visit the Let’s Laugh Today Laughter Club.