Just keep laughing!
A unique kind of yoga class is starting up again in the Heartland.
But in this class, you won’t hold a downward-facing dog.
Instead, you’ll do exercises designed to get people to laugh for absolutely no reason.
It’s called laughter yoga.
What is Laughter Yoga
In these sessions, you might hit a balloon with a fly swatter or even swing a hula-hoop around your neck.
“In this class, we sing, we dance, we play, it doesn’t matter if you carry a tune, it doesn’t matter if you know the words, you can just ha, ha through them,” Betty Brown explains.
The idea is to let go of any heavy, stale energy.
“The biggest suggestion of this group is to get in touch with your 5-year-old inner child,” Brown said.
Some laughter is scripted.
“Fake laughter reaps benefits on your body just like real laughter so ho, ho, ha, ha, he, he, you can feel that internal jogging all the way through your body,” Brown said.
Other times the laughter is completely spontaneous.
“And then it’s laughing so much that it’s crying. That’s what we do here,” Marissa Higuera said.
Brown is a certified laughter yoga leader.
She leads the group through various exercises that include yoga breathing, meeting others, playing games, and getting some exercise all while you’re laughing.
To become a leader, she took a two-day class and was then sent home with a homework assignment to laugh for 10 minutes a day for 40 days in a row.
She studied the teachings of a medical doctor from India, Dr. Madan Kataria, who developed the practice about 25 years ago.
Brown explains it is an outlet she found several years ago.
“When my youngest son was about to graduate high school and my mother passed away the same year, I just really found the need to find more laughter in my life,” Brown said.
Benefits of Laughter Yoga
Brown calls these sessions medicine for your soul.
In fact, it’s been proven laughter is a natural stress buster, just 20 seconds of continuous laughter can be a good cardio workout, and laughter can even relieve pain.
“I came in tonight after 8 hours of work really tired, slight headache, you know it’s raining outside, you know it’s like uhg,” Brown said.
But in this hour-long class, she laughs it all away, mostly with complete strangers, gaining something even deeper.
“You know it just rolls off because it’s not important stuff. You know the important stuff is connecting, feeling connected with people,” Brown said.
Other proven benefits, according to the Laughter Yoga University:
- Laughter Yoga helps to change your mood within minutes by releasing certain chemicals from your brain cells called endorphins, helping you to remain cheerful.
- Laughter Yoga is like an aerobic exercise, which brings more oxygen to the body and brain. This helps you feel more energetic and relaxed.
- Laughing strengthens the immune system, helping you avoid getting sick, and heal faster.
- Laughing helps you connect with others quickly.
- Laughter gives you hope and optimism to cope with difficult times.
Brown teaches laughter yoga on Wednesdays at the Riverside Library in Jackson, Mo.
She challenges us all to laugh for a full 20 seconds the next time you’re faced with a stressful situation, then notice what it does for your body.
Trust us when we say you’ll feel a lot lighter, even peaceful.