Contributed by Monica Alves, Communications Specialist
The pursuit of a life full of good health and wellness is something that individuals around the world strive for. Whether it’s meditation, acupuncture, Keto diets, or new workout routines – you may think you’ve tried it all. But one health craze that’s been sweeping the globe is a little bit funnier than the rest.
Originating in India, Laughter Yoga is a practice developed by medical Dr. Madan Kataria, combining breathing exercises with voluntary laughter. Lower stress levels, stronger immune functions, and an increase in oxygen to the body and brain, are just a few of the scientifically proven benefits this unique exercise offers. By releasing more endorphins (happy hormone!) from your brain, Laughter Yoga can improve your overall sense of happiness.
A Little Laughter Goes a Long Way
Did you know that our bodies are unable to differentiate between real and fake laughter? Irena Flego of Richmond Social Network gives us the scoop on this revolutionary activity. “This practice involving voluntary laughter is based on the belief that it provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter. As some practitioners say ‘The mind doesn’t know we are faking it.’ It’s quick, easy, and anyone can participate. It consists of a series of movements, stretches, breathing exercises, playful games, and activities designed to stimulate laughter and inner spirit of joy. A good hearty laugh can reduce stress, make people happier, and improve their interpersonal skills.”
So what did Richmond Social Network (RSN) do when we discovered this hilarious and accessible activity? We gave it a try! Beginning in March, we teamed up with certified Laughter Yoga instructor Tamar Cohen to host a session every first Wednesday of the month at the Fraserview Church gym in Richmond, BC.
“The starting goal was for our internal group to build their familiarity with expectations in the sessions. Now, the ultimate goal is to open it up to the wider community as an inclusive activity that all can participate in, build relationships, and have fun,” says Caroline Dagg, Team Manager.
Giggle Festivities in the Park
Inspired by the growing success of these sessions, Richmond Social Network decided to put on a community Laugher Yoga and choir summer party in the park! On Thursday, July 11, at Albert Airy Park, we invited Tamar to hold an outdoor yoga session for anyone interested. It was a sunny day of laughter, pizza lunch, RSN choir performance, and a sing along.
“Families, friends, residents from a nearby senior care home, some church employees, and passersby joined or observed as well. It was a lot of fun and something unusual to see at picnic events,” says Irena. “Our participants reported that felt better afterwards and that they were glad to be a part of it. Comments ranged from, ‘Laughter yoga was fun’, ‘It made me happy’, ‘I like the breathing exercise when we laughed it out”, “It’s relaxing’, and ‘It helped me get to know other people in the group’.”
Spreading Positivity throughout the Community
Markus Hubele, Acting Supervisor, marvels over Tamar’s ability to engage with the team through the power of laughter, stating, “Tamar is great at holding the attention of the group for one hour while she does Laughter Yoga. Persons served seem to truly enjoy the things she does. We would like to start inviting more people from the community to this, and are working with Tamar to try and make this happen.”
RSN is thrilled to keep the LOLs going by actively working on expanding their partnership with Tamar, with the aim of bringing more laughter into different community spaces. Feeling like you need to incorporate a little extra laughter into your lifestyle? With a $2 drop-in fee and no registration required, what do you have to lose? After all, laughter is the best medicine!