When was the last time you laughed for a whole hour? Back in 2011, Maria Buonincontro had a very demanding job, working endless hours and commuting between cities trying to maintain a long distance relationship. She wasn’t depressed or stressed, just a bit sad and stuck, and she didn’t know what to do about it. Following a web search, she found Laughter Yoga. It sounded fun so she decided to give it a try.
I remember the first five minutes of my first session being rather surreal. Complete strangers laughing for absolutely no reason, making funny faces or just making animal sounds. After ten minutes, I felt already lighter and happier. On my way back home, I couldn’t stop giggling and I had the best night’s sleep in years.
“We often think
that we laugh
because we are
happy, but in
reality it’s the
other way round.
We are happy
In our busy lives we often worry a lot about everything and anything. As we grow up we are expected to take life more and more seriously. We are made to feel that people who laugh a lot come across a bit silly, not serious and not grown-up.
Laughter Yoga is the opposite. Laughing is encouraged, we learn to laugh again and for no reason at all!
As Dr Madan Kataria (the doctor who invented Laughter Yoga) says, “If laughter can’t solve your problems, it will dissolve them by changing your body chemistry and mind set, so you can face them in a better way”.
Laughter Yoga is not traditional yoga. After a brief introduction, each session unfolds in four parts – clapping, breathing, childlike playfulness and Laughter Yoga exercises. We don’t tell jokes, we don’t perform, and participants are not required to be funny or have particular skills. Laughter Yoga helps the individual to play spontaneously with no competitiveness.
Our brain doesn’t recognise any difference between a real laugh and a fake laugh but the physiological and psychological benefits are the same. Laughter Yoga is a combination of deep breathing exercises from yoga and laughter exercises which oxygenates our body and brain, making us feel more healthy and energetic.
The facial expressions of participants changes considerably during the session. They always look happier, with brighter eyes than when we started. Everyone loves to play, dance, and laugh. We get to be children again. It’s a “kindergarten of grown-ups,” says Dr Kataria.
We often think that we laugh because we are happy, but in reality it’s the other way round. We are happy because we laugh!
Needless to say, after my first year of laughter yoga I found myself in a better place. My life unfolded in an unexpected way, I gained confidence and started to worry less – actually not to worry at all. Laughter Yoga is a powerful tool in learning to put things into perspective and take it easy in life.
Our sessions are affordable, aimed at individuals who are seeking change, happiness, well-being or simply joy and fun. The social aspect is also important – we often go for a drink after the session and make friends.
Through Laughter Yoga you will meet dozens, maybe hundreds of people who are reaching out and want to add some joy to their lives. Life is made of ups and downs and bad things sometimes happen in our lives, but it is not what happens that defines us, it is how we decide to react to what happens that makes a huge difference to our well being.
Laughter Yoga can help also if you suffer mild anxiety or social anxiety, improve your confidence in public speaking or overcome certain phobias. It can also alleviate some symptoms of depression. There’s no promise of healing, but you will learn to look at your problem from a different point of view and become more optimistic that the outcome will be positive in the end.
We organise sessions for large groups, workshops and small groups for people who are extremely shy or suffer from social anxiety and find it difficult to join large groups. Please get in touch if you would like more information, and remember what life is about in the end – having a good laugh! Laughter Yoga is a good start!