Ausnew Home Care | Laughter yoga classes offer stress relief in the Sunshine Coast hinterland

Laughter yoga classes offer stress relief in the Sunshine Coast hinterland

disability Disability Employment Services disability law disability stereotypes intellectual disability Living With a Disability NDIS NDIS Aged Care Approved NDIS and Personal Care NDIS Plan no ‘dis’ in disability. Personal Care Services under NDIS Seeing the ability in disability umbrella of disability

On a drizzly Monday morning, 40 women are cackling with laughter in a community hall in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

They are completing a laughter yoga class on International Happiness Day that's designed to bring joy and a spark for life.

The practice combines raucous laughter with breathing exercises to improve energy and happiness levels, and it sounds like a whole lot of fun.

Facilitator Po Mei Kwong says persistent laughter shows immediate benefits of increased blood flow and the release of positive hormones.

But establishing a "habit of laughing" has longer-term perks too.

"Let's be honest, life doesn't always give you reasons to laugh or be happy about, but it's just [creating] the positive mindset," she says.

YOUTUBETake a look inside a laughter yoga class.

"We all know laughter is the best medicine. As soon as you laugh, you feel good."

She says it is a mindset process.

"Sometimes, I have to confess, it feels weird," she says.

"But as soon as you engage and do some laughter and do the eye contact, the connection, invite your child-like playfulness, then soon you'll be laughing for real and sometimes it's hard to stop." 

Ms Kwong says children laugh hundreds of times a day, but adults are too serious.

"It's a conditional laughter, they need a situation to laugh, they need to go to the comedy," she says.

"With laughter yoga, the idea is if you laugh 10 to 15 minutes you harvest the benefits.

"For me, joy is the key element for just being alive."

Women smile and laugh with arms in the air
Participants say they feel less stressed after the hour-long workshop.(ABC News: Olivia Mason)

How did the movement begin?

Laughter yoga was devised by Indian doctor Madan Kataria 28 years ago.

It fuses simulated laughter exercises, clapping, gentle stretches and deep breathing from yoga.

"They started with a joke and five friends in a park in Mumbai," says Queensland laughter yoga trainer Heather Joy Campbell.

"They realised that jokes got a bit stale [so] they started to work on some playful exercises that involve laughter and the yoga breath – and the rest evolved."

Three women stand together, arms around one another, they are all laughing.
Heather Joy (center) trained Susanne Wright (right) and Po Mei Kwong in laughter yoga instructing.(ABC News: Olivia Mason)

There are 13 laughter yoga groups in Queensland, from Cairns to the Gold Coast and out to Stanthorpe. 

Ms Campbell describes the movement as "little hubs of joy and positivity that are going to bring about wellbeing social connection, mental health, physical health".

"I just lost myself in doing laughter yoga the very first time, I didn't realise how stressed I was [and] how serious I was taking life," she says.

"It's a practice of enabling us to laugh without jokes.

Woman claps hand with mouth open in joyous laughter
Most of the participants at the workshop were taking part in laughter yoga for the first time.(ABC News: Olivia Mason)

Ms Campbell says laughter can help people cope with illnesses and health conditions.

"Stress is the big key thing that we're seeing people living differently when they are laughing," she says.

"It's a positive flick of the switch and we feel better for it."

Participants laugh along

Woman smiles holding doll with smiley face
People attending the workshop are encouraged to leave judgement behind.(ABC News: Olivia Mason)

First-time attendee Deb Smith says she is glad she joined the class.

"There's not enough laughing in the world," she says.

"It's just good to do and it's relaxing.

"I saw some people that were exceptionally good laughers, and I'd like to be more like that." 

Fellow newbie Kathy Hickson says she felt "amazing" after laughing for an hour.

"I think it's great because you're using your whole body. I don't think people realise how much laughter … pumps up your energy," she says.

Ms Hickson says she was initially reluctant to let her guard down but Ms Kwong's enthusiasm was infectious.

"You can't ever not laugh when you're around Po," she says.

"She's just that vivacious person, her energy is just incredible."

The session formed part of Harmony Week celebrations on the Sunshine Coast. 

Older Post Newer Post