Over the past few months, I've had the pleasure of getting to know our wonderful Laughter Yoga instructor, Beth Boston, of Hanover Nutrition & Wellness. Most of you have probably never taken (or even heard of!) Laughter Yoga, so I sat down with Beth to get all of your burning questions answered. I hadn't heard of Laughter Yoga before meeting Beth either, but I am totally sold. Everyone needs Laughter Yoga in their lives!
Q: So, what is Laughter Yoga?
A: Laughter Yoga is a cardio workout combining simple laughter exercises with yogic breathing, bringing more oxygen to the body & brain, making you feel energetic & healthy.
Q: What are the benefits of participating in Laughter Yoga? A: Laughter Yoga has been scientifically studied to boost your immune system, lower blood pressure, control blood sugar, keep your heart healthy, improve focus, reduce pain, alleviate allergies, and recharge your metabolism. In addition[!!!], Laughter Yoga is a powerful weapon against depression, anxiety, grief, loneliness, sadness, stress, and isolation!
Laughter Yoga helps to change your mood within minutes by releasing certain chemicals from your brain cells called endorphins. You will remain cheerful and in a good mood throughout the rest of your day.
Q: How did Laughter Yoga come about?
A: This unique exercise was developed by Indian medical doctor, Dr. Madan Kataria, supported by his wife Madhuri Kataria, a yoga teacher, and is based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter. Since its birth in 1995, Laughter Yoga has spread to over 70 countries and is practiced by thousands of people every day.
Q: What can I expect from a Laughter Yoga class?
A: Lots of laughter! Come to class in comfortable clothes, bring a water bottle & something to lay on. All abilities can learn laughter yoga. Classes are FUN and begin with warm-up exercises and clapping. Laughter exercises are interspersed with deep breathing to help flush the lungs and bring about physical and mental benefits. I encourage you to make eye-contact with others and use childlike playfulness, which helps us to laugh for no reason. Don't worry if your laughter feels forced. You will hear me say, "fake it till you make it. The body doesn't know the difference between real and fake laughter." The yoga portion involves deep and slow breaths along with stretching exercises. We don't do any yoga poses and only use our yoga mats towards the end of class for sitting and laying on the floor. We will follow our laughter exercises with laughter meditation. This is spontaneous and deep laughter. Hearty laughter gets us energized and so we must reduce those levels before leaving. Participants really love the ending to class as it brings immense relaxation.
Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching Laughter Yoga?
A: It is amazing to see the transformation of a group of people before and after class. It is no surprise we live in a stress-filled world, driven by worries, to-do lists, and goals. Participants often come to class tired and stressed out from life. When we finish class with our guided relaxation, participants leave "feeling good, relaxed, energized, stress-free, and more self-confident." In order to get the health benefits of laughter, one must have at least 20 minutes of laughter and laughing in a group is much easier than laughing alone. When we give ourselves the freedom to let go of our inhibitions and participate fully, we feel free, light, and energized. Laughter is changing our brain chemistry by the oxygenating exercises we perform in class, generating good feelings and changing our outlook on life. Laughter Yoga is about learning to be joyful, which helps us to navigate happiness in our daily lives in a much better way. Most people want to be healthy and happy; here is an easy way to do both! As the saying goes, Laughter is the best medicine, and I'm out to prove it!
Thank you so much to Beth Boston for taking the time to answer these questions! We can't wait for you all to join us in The Barn for a relaxing, uplifting Laughter Yoga class! **All classes are open to the public!
Laughter Yoga Participant Quotes:
"This was fun and immediately reduced my stress and changed my mood."
"I am in good physical health and consider myself very fit. I am surprised that I could feel this being a workout!"
"I am so glad we came to class for our date night!"
"I was in a bad mood and tired when I came to class. I honestly feel light, energized and happy right now."
"My mom and I had fun laughing."
"That last part of class was heavenly!"