5 Benefits of Laughter Yoga for Seniors

It feels timely to focus on being a Senior and share below the five main benefits of Laughter Yoga for Seniors in our society, as outlined by Indian Physician Dr Madan Kataria. He was the Founder of the free community laughter club movement in 1985 and since then, research on laughter is having an increasing impact all around the world.

At our laughter clubs, the majority of people who come are women and in their senior years. We have a few gentlemen also, however coming along to laugh may be a little daunting for some people and especially to the men. Mind you we highly recommend ‘getting out of your comfort zone’.

May I also suggest you consider becoming involved as a volunteer, involved in a laughter club in Victoria? It is easy, a commitment well worthwhile and rewarding. From what I observe people who commit to regular laughter find, without realising it, their lives becoming transformed. Club members have shared how it helps them move on and be involved in life, one after being in a depression for some years and the other simply feeling rather flat and without purpose.

As I often share, it is wonderful for developing brain neurons (Neuroplasticity) as is singing and dancing. You can see people’s eyes light up and feel their energy become lighter, more fun filled, joyous, spontaneous, when in the process of a laughter session.

Obviously, it is best for it to be regular, for a facilitator to attend an aged care place or for people to come along to a laughter club regularly. Language is not a barrier either, or inability to speak, the language of laughter and love surpasses all. Hearts connect and we are very honoured to be able to share the laughter and upliftment with those willing to do it with us. We finish each session with a short meditation, some people haven’t even experienced that before and relish it. Sometimes we include some music for a short sing along and occasionally a few residents get up for a little dance movement. It is such a joy to see the change in their demeanour when they do so, a real joy.

Following then are the 5 main benefits of Laughter Yoga, as outlined in the professional training manual of Laughter Yoga International. They do not say all the physical, emotional, social benefits, rather concentrating on the general ones that are so easily recognisable for why seniors would benefit from more laughter in their life.

1. Adds More Laughter to Life: With advancing age we laugh less or stop laughing. We get out of the habit of laughing and often with dementia and Alzheimer’s that is more so the case. Laughter Yoga is a physically oriented technique, is an ideal exercise that provides many health benefits without using mental and cognitive abilities.

2. Promotes Physical Health: With the wear and tear of old age many seniors develop ailments like high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis etc. Laughter Yoga facilitates healing by strengthening the immune system, improves blood circulation and increases oxygen to the body’s cells. It is also a cardiovascular workout.

3. Improves Mental Health: Isolation, loneliness and depression are common among older adults as they lose loved ones and their health begins to decline. Mental health is improved by boosting neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin.

4. Building Social Bonds: Laughter Yoga helps bring people together and improve their social bonding. Retirees and able-bodied older adults who attend our laughter clubs develop friendships and rapport. This helps them to move on, be resilient and decrease loneliness at the same time increasing their quality of life.

5. Longevity: Laughter Yoga helps us when we feel we have lost our way giving us greater reason and purpose to continue living a full and rewarding life. It is a simple and easy routine, which is practiced by people all throughout the world in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. As the population is increasingly older every day, Laughter Yoga is a tool for transformational aging and increased longevity.

From my personal experience Laughter Yoga does all of the above and gives me a lift in my life and relationships. Life becomes more fun filled and you can also be a part of that. It is free and we love to laugh together. You are not committed to attend every time, only as much as you can fit in with your (probably) very busy life!

Thank you for your interest in reading about this very important topic. I hope to see you soon on either a Saturday or Sunday.

Cheers, Lynette.

Acknowledgement Dr Kataria, Founder of Laughter Yoga International

 

Grounding Courage, Trust and Laughter

Grounding Courage, Trust and Laughter

Is Your Life Difficult or Easy?

Are you Happy having an easy time in your life? I was speaking with a lady on the train who was down from Darwin for a few days. Heather has two male children, one with ADHD and the other with Asperger’s. My immediate reaction was to feel she had a difficult life. She responded that her life was no more difficult than anyone else’s. immediately I felt that she was very courageous. I concurred when she said she believed we are given only that which we are able to cope with and learn from. This is my firm belief, we will be handed challenges, call it what you will, in order to evolve, expand and grow as human beings into becoming more spirit-based, whilst in a human body.

Laughter is important and the little dog Trixie is our mascot, trotting around us as we do our laughter exercises.

Laughter is important and the little dog Trixie is our mascot, trotting around us as we do our laughter exercises.

I have chosen to bring up the subject of Courage as being a very important quality to hold and express yourself through. Do you see yourself as being courageous? People generally live life unconsciously, being led and drawn throughout their lives. Granted there are decisions, activities and goals that we busy ourselves in. We can either express from a selfish centre, where it is all about me, which is prevalent when we are young. The whole world revolves around us and our desires. As time passes, this alters and many of us ponder, feeling to give back and share from our life’s experience and gained wisdom. Life expresses more about how may I serve? This revised attitude may also be unconscious, rather that we have a growing feeling of liking to help or be useful in some ways.

Life Throws us Challenges

Courage comes in when challenges present themselves to us and we can take the stance to be strong, to not give in, to never give up, to keep going on, no matter what. We can feel utterly and completely lost, or perhaps see the end in mind, whether we feel we have it all worked out, in line with our purpose and plan or otherwise.

It takes guts to turn up no matter what. Nothing stopping us, becoming unstoppable. There is a fine balance with not burning ourselves out either, as we must give from an overflowing abundance of energy or else our own health may be depleted. We can feel resentful also if we are coming from the ‘wrong’ motives.

Wrong is in inverted commas, because in theory there is no right or wrong. We have choices and consequences. Our motive may be to fulfil a need we carry due to low self-esteem and is not as clear or pure as when it is from a genuine desire to be embracing life in a way that we feel we are giving back to life.

Taken in context, therefore, we have the opportunity to call on Courage in our lives when we feel the need. Courage is an interesting word, or quality. Many of us have it in some things that we have to do and not others. We may work well, be smart, on the ball and feel strong, together and yet on a personal level, we can shrink.

It is all okay, either way. Just get real with yourself and know when you need to call for outside support to get you going, through to the other side.

Call on Courage to see you through, offer support and you may in addition call on Trust, as together with Courage, they go hand in hand. If we don’t feel Trust, it will be harder to accept Courage when we ask for it.

Laughter Yoga Strengthens our Capacity for Courage

This is where using Laughter Yoga can come in, to support us in our lack of commitment and when our fears hold us back. Do we want to be chicken or have the Courage of a Tiger. Or would you pick another cat? Maybe a mouse, who in one story stands up to an elephant.

I sincerely say that the longer I run laughter clubs, the more certain I am that to include (not to say it is all that you need) laughter in your life, you will be changed in ways that will please you! That is for the best, we do not want to be settled, we like to feel safe and secure, but what growth is in that? Nil.

John, my husband who joins me frequently speaks of how laughter has been instrumental in getting him out of comfort zone. John recently shared that he will speak with anybody, new people who he would not have otherwise approached before him joining the laughter club.  He feels it may be more difficult too for the men out there.

A regular male attendee who has been coming for several years astounded us when he said that he was very shy and had to make himself come back again. That is not always the case, as many people come to laughter club once and feel it is not for them. I feel they may not attend long enough to find out if that is so. Quite a few share they felt uncomfortable and returned regardless. The longer you come, the better you will feel. Even though it gets you out of your comfort zone, you will once again experience child-like playful fun, but this time as an adult with other adults. It does become natural and spontaneous once more, with the practice of regular attendance at a laughter club.

Laughter helps you get over yourself, your appearance, lack of confidence and resistance to being outside in a social group. Many of us withdraw or, through no fault of our own, are quite isolated, especially as we age.

We improve being inhibited when we connect with adult members in the laughter club. Part of what we do is embrace child-like playful fun with each other. Such as you may recall as you would have as a child, playing outside with the neighbourhood kids on a hot summer night, or however you remember those precious childhood memories.

What we do at Laughter Club.

We do laughter yoga exercises, deep breathing, singing using ho ho or something similar instead of words, dancing around and in general behave as if we are doing improvisation theatre.

It is never too late to start something new like attending one of our laughter clubs, or that thing that you have held off doing. What is on your bucket list? Does it require Courage and Trust to do it or is it related to time or money?

Develop new Brain Pathways

Neuroplasticity is about the science of neurons, the brain to develop new cells and pathways. Brain Gym is becoming widely practiced and educates people to expand themselves with exercises. People can further develop their brains and have greater cognitive behaviour with various activities. The top activity for Neuroplasticity is laughter, next singing and dancing. We do all of these when we meet at community laughter clubs.

My involvement with laughter has certainly done that, released me from my comfort zone, expanded my horizons, opened up new pathways, not only in my brain but in many other areas of my life.

No doubt we could be led to be involved in many activities that would help us to achieve a feeling of expansion in our lives. That is if we allow ourselves to be inspired by a greater part of us which is beyond physical limitations, we will find our way.

Finishing Off

My wish for you is to dig deep, make an effort if you aren’t already, to discover new things to do in your life. We want to have a greater expression of ourselves on all levels, well many of us are into growing and if what I share does not resonate with you, that is fine as life happens and evolution can take as long as it takes.

We may feel out of our depth, like being pulled along and without being in control, rather than our life being of our choosing and being able to follow our passion.

If you have lost yours, direction and passion, then please, please come to one of the local laughter clubs, or another one if you live elsewhere. It may be just what the doctor ordered!

Laughing together with supportive, like-minded people is extraordinary. We come together sometimes quietly, throw ourselves into the session and leave feeling magnificent. We feel uplifted, energised, appreciative and with the intention of bringing more laughter into our lives, in whatever way is possible.

Cheerio for now. Lynette.

Disclaimer: Information shared is intended to support you and is from my personal understanding, experience and is generalised. I am not responsible for how you take it on board.

Ferntree Gully Laughter Club Celebrates

Lynette was walking towards the camera for this weird shot.

Could Laughter Yoga be Part of Your Self Support in 2019?

Could Laughter Yoga be Part of Your Self Support in 2019?

Hello and how have you been since the start of the year? Are you embarking on new things? Will you be joining us at either the Knoxfield or Ferntree Gully Laughter Clubs? They are on at 10.30am on Saturdays and Sundays. Links to information on the website pages are: KnoxfieldFerntree Gully.

Are you okay? If you have been meaning to join one of our two local laughter clubs, either Ferntree Gully or Knoxfield, I encourage you to be like the Nike motto. ‘JUST DO IT!’. Furthermore, it’s FREE. The company is GREAT. And you will be welcomed into the laughter ‘family’.

New Year’s Resolutions.

Are they chosen in a spontaneous moment, or, in part influenced by others as something you ‘should’ do. Most of us have been conditioned that we ‘should’ make New Year’s Resolutions. This implies that we are not okay, inadequate and need to pick up our game. Depending on our underlying motive, they could alternatively be used for positive growth.

We often experience guilt when we don’t succeed and there is a natural tendency for humans to be resistant to change. We like to know what is going to happen and feel insecure not knowing for certain how our future will play out.

Resolutions can be good at any time and especially if our motive is coming from love and congruent with our goals.

There are plenty of opportunities for self-improvement and besides using laughter to support us, we may have been considering slowing down our activities agenda by adding some quiet time. Or not, it may be something completely the opposite! Have you been meaning to learn or get better at the art of meditation? There is so much that we are able to try out and see if it works for us, to give pleasure or lower the everyday stress. I am now booking students for a Monday evening personal growth class, which may be a lightbulb moment on reading this piece of information?

Self-Acceptance and a Nightly review

This feels like a regular topic related to self-esteem and sharing about the nightly review process. If you do wish to work on bringing more love and self-acceptance to your day, it is worth creating this good habit. At the end of each day I ask myself “Did I bring more love to what I was involved in today? Was I kinder and more self-accepting, both to myself and others? Was I without criticism and judgment?”.

You must work on YOU first, because if you are not okay with yourself, you will be unable to help, support and share the love with others you encounter.

Back to basics, remember that when we laugh wholeheartedly and allow ourselves to be doing child-like playful activities, it is one of the very, very best things we can do for our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. The laughter clubs run in all weather, hail, rain or shine. Sometimes we may even begin feeling a tad flat and this quickly changes. We start laughing and deep breathing, making us feel invigorated, uplifted and happy. This method of joining together brings belonging, comradeship, and a new way of living one’s life. We take the spirit of laughter with us. Do come and give it a go. It truly is transformative and life changing.

This photo was taken during a session at the Federation Square Laughter Club. I recently returned to being a Committee member of Laughter Clubs Victoria Inc. (LCVI) that puts these laughter sessions on. They are on the 1st and 3rd Sunday at 11am and are free. Read more here.

May 2019 be beneficially memorable for you. Keep on keeping on! And remember, to never, ever, ever give up!!!

Cheerio for now. Lynette.

Disclaimer: Information shared is intended to support you and is from my personal understanding, experience and is generalised. I am not responsible for how you take it on board.

The History of Laughter Yoga and How I Became Involved

The History of Laughter Yoga and How I Became Involved

Hello there,

Recently I received an enquiry to facilitate a Laughter Yoga session from a primary school teacher of grades 5-6. She went on to ask me to share a few words about how I both became involved in Laughter Yoga and the history of the laughter club movement. It seemed like a good idea to expand a little in a blog post and hopefully this is of interest to you.

The year was 1995 when it all began, the origin of the Laughter Yoga Community Clubs, who practice ‘laughing for no reason’ all around the world. Indian Physician, Dr Madan Kataria was impressed by Norman Cousins’ book Anatomy of an Illness and the research work by Dr Lee Berk on the benefits of laughter to one’s health and wellbeing. Madan decided to field-test the impact of laughter upon himself and others, gathering with four friends in a Mumbai public park.

This happy little group had many bystanders, who quickly joined in and numbered over 50 after a couple of weeks. BUT, around that time it was discovered that either the jokes and humour ran out or became offensive. Dr Kataria went home to ponder if there could be a resolution. Otherwise he felt that trying to laugh together on a regular basis would simply not work long term.

Upon reviewing the research, there was a light-bulb moment! It was around the fact that the body cannot differentiate between pretend and genuine laughter, because both produce the same happy chemistry. Participants were amazed, the make-believe laughter quickly turned into real laughter that was contagious. Realising there were other ways to experience laughter than through humour, the group switched to role-play and other techniques to stimulate the importance of child-like playfulness.

That was 23 years ago, the first laughter club was born and as the saying goes, the rest is history. There are currently thousands of laughter clubs in over 100 countries around the world.

For myself 13 years ago in 2005, I saw people laughing loudly together on TV as a social activity and then heard that ‘the laughter guru’ was coming to Melbourne to present a Laughter Yoga workshop. I went along, met with Dr Kataria and was so impressed by how fantastic I felt, I straight away committed to doing the laughter club training and immediately thereafter started a laughter club.

My personal reasons were that as a young girl, adults seemed serious, stressed, upset and fearful, as if they had lost hope and life was a burden. From that awareness, I unconsciously chose to be young at heart and not let life beat me down. I kept it up as good as I could, to not get stressed out over work and adult issues. Sometimes people said I was like Peter Pan who was youthful, happy and an inspired person, living with faith and hope for the future, enjoying each day, one day at a time. Mind you, now I understand there is more to it than the simplified version of my earlier life, which was quite ungrounded. That was in part replaced as I learnt to stop judging unpleasant feelings and be authentic. Feelings are to be celebrated and not supressed, which is vastly different from the earlier me. Nevertheless, that is the story in a nutshell, as to why I was drawn to Laughter Yoga.

Cheerio for now, Lots of love and laughter, Lynette Mitchell xo

Disclaimer: Information shared here is intended to be supportive and from my personal understanding and experience. Advice given is general and as I am not a medical doctor, take no responsibility for how it is received