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23 March 2017
Laughter Yoga specialist and Bedford resident, Cheryl Green explains why laughing is good for your health.
There’s no doubt that modern life is stressful and in between looking after the family, paying bills and managing your day job, it’s easy to forget about your own wellbeing. That’s why this Red Nose Day, I want to share the joy of Laughter and encourage everyone to ‘make their laugh matter’.
Seven years ago, I took early retirement from my day job as Senior Internal Communications Consultant for Mergers and Acquisitions at BT to start a new chapter in my life. My friend read about Laughter Yoga and thought it’d be right up my street because I liked wacky things. I decided to go for it.
Laughter Yoga was developed by Dr Madan Kataria in 1995 and is now practiced in Laughter Clubs across the world. It’s a combination of laughter and exercises with yogic breathing, which can change your mood within minutes. It releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones into your system, reduces stress, strengthens your immune system and makes you more alert and productive. It also gives you a coping mechanism to keep a positive mental attitude in difficult times.
Laughing loosens stressed muscles and so every time we laugh, we treat our muscles to a whole body work out – including our facial muscles. It’s normally done in a group and is based on the concept that we can laugh for no reason. If you watch a child, they learn to laugh before they can talk, but as we get older, we sometimes forget how. In classes, we learn to belly-laugh again. You can fake it to begin with, but from experience, I find that once you start laughing, it’s really difficult to stop.
While there’s obviously a fun side to Laughter Yoga, there’s also a serious side too. Laughter affects the front part of your brain, which is the same part that’s affected by depression and Parkinson’s Disease. Using Laughter Yoga in mental health wards in hospitals lifts patient’s moods and like crying, its cathartic and can help release emotions that have been pent up for some time. I’ve also found that it works particularly well with those living with dementia.
It’s because of the health benefits that I’m so passionate about Laughter Yoga and I’ve seen myself how it can manage pain. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and practicing laughter in my classes and on the phone with other teachers five days a week has boosted my immune system and helped with the pain.
If you want to make your laugh matter this Red Nose Day, then join me at one of the sessions I’m running at Pavillion Café in Bedford Park on 24 March from 11 am -12 noon or at Brickhill Community Centre on 29 March between 7.30pm-8.30pm. Sessions are free, with donations going to Comic Relief.
If you’re interested in more information about Laughter Yoga, visit www.laughterandlife.co.uk