Countless times I’ve been urged to take an adaptive yoga class to reduce stress and, hopefully, be healthier. But meditation and yoga poses never interested me until I heard about Laughter Yoga at the recent Abilities Expo at the New Jersey Convention & Expo Center.
Laughter Yoga, really?
Beth Bongar, who calls herself the Laughing Diva, demonstrated this interesting form of yoga at the expo. Just imagine the scene: large crowd with people of all ages and all types of disabilities laughing their heads off and leaving the expo happier than when they arrived. Apparently, Laughter Yoga can unite our bodies with our minds — while having fun along the way.
“We learn to look at our limitations and laugh in the face of them. We acknowledge ourselves and our many abilities, and where ever we feel limited — we bring a sense of humor and lightness. Even if you have to fake it until you make it in the beginning — laughter soon becomes a real expression of inner joy,” writes the New York City-based Laughing Diva.
Laughter Yoga, with believers found all over the world, is described as a group activity that involves eye contact and playfulness among participants. Humor and comedy are not part of the practice, but breathing exercises (to prepare the lungs for hearty laughter), and special exercises (to bring out our child-like, happy selves) definitely are.
Beth believes that for people with disabilities, “laughter is a powerful tool that can help manage physical pain and emotional distress. It has the ability to elevate the mood state by releasing endorphins, a feel-good hormone that alleviates pain and provides a feeling of comfort and safety.”
Twenty minutes of laughter “is sufficient to develop full physiological benefits,” explains Beth, who ends her sessions with “Yum Meditation,” which includes a small piece of dark chocolate and “yumming” — a form of humming.
The chocolate alone may be a reason to try Laughing Yoga! If you’re interested, this web site lets you search for a group in your area.