Laugh and the world laughs with youBy Becky Barnes
May 25, 2012
They say laughter is the best medicine. Becky Barnes went to find out if it’s true:
Standing back to back with strangers and erupting in nervous giggles is not the usual way I spend a Sunday afternoon.
Nor do I often make my way to a park to run around and pretend to eat an ice cream and chuckle because my imaginary ice cream is melting (unless it’s after midnight on a Friday night).
But as it was World Laughter Day on May 6, I decided to give a laughter session a go. We all like having a laugh, right?
Before going along to the session, all I knew was that Laughter Yoga was about using laughter to deal with stress.
This sterling detective work stemmed from the fact that Anne Parry, who contacted me about the session, runs a company called Stress Solutions.
But the use of yoga is perhaps misleading in the way you might think of it. Anyone who wishes to try Laughter Yoga may be relieved to know that there is no point where you have to do Downward Dog or any kind of crab pose.
When I arrived at South Hill Park for a laughter session, I was unsure of exactly where I was going so I listened for the sound of laughter -– those stellar detective skills coming in handy again.
The infectiously enthusiastic Anne was setting the scene as I got there – we were on a beach and laughing at the melting ice cream and the price of a deck chair.
Throwing round an imaginary beach ball, I lost my inhibitions and connected with my inner child. It may have been forced laughter but it has the same benefits as the real.
I was a bit bewildered at first but Anne is a great laughter leader and soon everyone was warmed up.
She kept the pace up, creating scenarios as well as telling us about the benefits of laughter.
We ran around, talked in gibberish and pretty soon everyone was smiling. True laughter came from several situations that occurred within the hour, including the group’s successful attempt at untying a human knot.
Anne’s message is “laughter is good for you on so many levels” and we discovered that a cheeky chortle (or two) releases ‘happy hormones’, also known as endorphins, which can improve your mood for hours.
Having a laugh means these ‘magic’ chemicals can help us out with pain relief and boost the immune system.
Anne also says that one minute of laughter is as good exercise as 10 minutes of jogging.
I am not sure about this but the hour of laughter is pretty exhausting and definitely creates the same feeling as exercise.
My favourite benefit was that laughter will give me a natural facelift because of the way it exercises the face muscles.
During the session we did draw a bit of attention but a jokey heckle is met with the group’s catchphrase – a clap as we all chant “very good, very good, yes, yes”.
If I had seen us giggling away, I would probably have been intrigued but when you let go, it is fun.
And if you feel embarrassed, well that just results in more laughter – so I was fully reaping the benefits.
We wound down by thinking about something we were stressed about and then laughing it off.
I met the group only an hour before but I didn’t feel uncomfortable holding their hands or standing back to back. Standing chortling away at South Hill Park, I felt relaxed, invigorated and just a little bit unusual.
Complementary therapist Anne runs laughter clubs in all manner of settings – whether you need team building at work or medical treatment. Every session will include free laughter, silly games, breathing, stretching and relaxation.
For further information visit: www.stressolutions.co.uk/laughter.htm