“Like an excited teenager going to a party,” that’s how one carer describes her experience of laughter yoga as part of Carers Queensland’s online Wellbeing program.
Deidre* has been a regular laughter yoga participant since its introduction in mid-2020 because, she finds, it “lightens the heavy load we carers bear”.
“I personally forget everything around me and totally enjoy watching people laugh and have fun whilst working out at the same time.”
Another carer, Julie*, repeats some of the exercises with family members because “they’re great for relaxation and stress reduction.”
Laughter yoga is a blend of deep cleansing yogic breathing, chanting, clapping, simulated laughter and playful movements that are done seated or standing.
But what’s going on?
We asked laughter yoga facilitator and a global ambassador for the practice, HeatherJoy Campbell, from The Happydemic.
“Laughter yoga isn’t about jokes and comedy. It is about breathing better; it is about dialling back stress and it is about feeling good,” she said.
“If you can breathe, you can laugh, even though you may think you’ve nothing to laugh about. It really is as natural as breathing, yet society relegates it to ‘good times’ and they can be few and far between sometimes.”
Surprising benefits of laughter yoga
Polling of Carers Queensland participants, before and after sessions, has repeatedly shown the exercise program is uplifting, destressing and energising.
These reactions are not isolated. Laughter yoga provides more than a sense of fun. Worldwide research reveals far-reaching and surprising benefits including:
Sustained hearty laughter is aerobic. A Stanford University showed the cardio impact of 10 minutes’ hearty laughter equalled 30 minutes on a rowing machine!
Mood changes within minutes and you stay cheerful longer, often finding yourself laughing more than normal, topping up the ‘feel goods’.
When you stress less, blood pressure comes down, heart rate slows, and an overall sense of peace replaces anxiety.
Laughter yoga helps to create a positive mental state to deal with challenging situations.