Laugh­ter yoga – it’s not a joke

Re­porter Ciara Pratt dis­cov­ers the ben­e­fits of health trend laugh­ter yoga

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

The say­ing goes, ‘‘the more you laugh the longer you live’’.

Judg­ing by the amount of laugh­ing com­pleted in an hour at the Massey Laugh­ter Yoga club, I should hope­fully reach the ripe old age of 100.

How could any­one take a laugh­ing class se­ri­ously, you may ask? Laugh­ter Yoga isn’t a joke. It aims to re­duce stress and lower blood pres­sure, among other health ben­e­fits, and is be­com­ing a well­recog­nised form of fit­ness.

The idea orig­i­nated in 1995 with In­dian GP Dr Madan Kataria and it’s sim­ple – spend an hour laugh­ing and the yoga part of the class is the fo­cus on breath­ing.

All you need is a pair of lungs and a voice box.

Its sci­en­tific ben­e­fits stem from the fact the body can­not dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween fake and gen­uine laugh­ter.

So whether you are in the mid­dle of a deep belly laugh or you force laugh­ter out, you are re­ceiv­ing the same phys­i­o­log­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal ben­e­fits, such as an in­crease in your heart rate.

Laugh­ter leader Louise Stevens was hooked af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the ben­e­fits of Laugh­ter Yoga dur­ing an un­happy time in her life.

‘‘I am a shy, re­served per­son, be­lieve it or not.

‘‘I was in a down part of my life car­ing for my el­derly mother and just re­ally lack­ing any joy.

‘‘One day my friend told me about a laugh­ter club so I tried it out.

‘‘I thought it was the weird­est thing the first time.’’

To a per­son off the street, the hap­pen­ings in a laugh­ter club would weird.

As a group we started our own po­lit­i­cal party, The Laugh­ing Party, and at­tempted to cre­ate a so­ci­ety com­plete with laugh­ing po­lice­men, laugh­ing politi­cians laugh­ing cit­i­zens.

It wasn’t com­pul­sory to laugh but see­ing and hear­ing all the unique laughs in the



look group made it con­ta­gious.

‘‘Most jokes these days are at the ex­pense of other peo­ple, kids laugh for joy and we need to do more of that,’’ Stevens says.

‘‘Laugh­ter is free ex­er­cise, we just don’t use it enough.’’

I must ad­mit af­ter­wards I felt en­er­gised and def­i­nitely felt like my lungs had been worked out.

Now I have to fig­ure out what to do with ex­tra years of life.

May 4 is World Laugh­ter Day.

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Laugh out loud: Re­porter Ciara Pratt, front, tries a dif­fer­ent kind of work­out – laugh­ing yoga.

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