“Adults don’t laugh enough. Kids do”.
That was the first thing my laughter yoga instructor said. Standing in my first ever laughter yoga class on the Gold Coast, I have no idea if that’s how every class starts or not.
But it’s 100% true.
How many kids do you see cracking up in joyous, body-shaking laughter? Tons.
How many adults do you see doing the same thing? None.
That might have something to do with the fact that breaking into uncontained laughter on a bus or peak-hour train tends to make people think you’re a weirdo.
But that’s exactly why I tried laughter yoga. To break out of routine and see if there was any truth in what I’d been told about this popular new pastime.
I’d heard about this new approach to wellness that mixed breathing exercises (which I have tried many times) and amusing role play and games (which I have not tried many times).
And I’d been told it could melt stress, strengthen your immune system, protect your heart, dissolve aches…pretty much give you a body/mind boost that had to be tried to be believed.
So I went to try it.
Here’s what laughter yoga taught me about myself.
I learned I don’t laugh enough
That’s not to say my life isn’t full of humour. As a Mum of two I’ve got front row seats to a comedy show most nights (it helps to enjoy slapstick humour). But if we’re honest with ourselves, none of us laugh enough.
In fact, our laugh yoga instructor pointed out that the average Aussie adult laughs just 12 times a day. And kids? They laugh hundreds of times a day.
If you don’t know about laughter yoga yet, it’s a mixture of guided breathing techniques and simulated laughter.
The simulated laughter comes from roleplay games and improv. Which might sound pretty alien to your everyday life. You might even think ‘is laughter yoga for me?’.
I was exactly the same.
But I left the 45-minute class feeling playful. Feeling reconnected to my inner joy. And with a poignant reminder to not live so deep in my head (as most adults do) and spend more time in my heart – like kids.
And if you’re wondering what to wear to a laughter yoga class, there’s no need to find activewear or bring a yoga mat. Just bring clothes you feel comfortable in. You won’t be asked to hit complicated yoga poses, but there will be movement for the games and exercises, so comfort is key.
I learned you can use happiness hacks
Laughter yoga isn’t about being amused, it’s just about laughing.
Both types of laughter lead to the same positive outcome – oxygen rich blood, mood boost, open lungs that calm your body and mind (hence why yoga-esque breathing is added to the mix).
On top of all that, you won’t BELIEVE how quickly a small chuckle ignites a room into roaring laughter. I could see how stress melted away as everyone in the room got onboard and let go of their inhibitions.
That’s why laughter yoga isn’t just laughing for a bit of fun. It’s about learning to tap into your brain’s hardwired ability to kickstart relaxation, pain relief, joy – all the ingredients for a happy and balanced life.
I learned that you can start off with fake laughter, and whether it becomes genuine or not (which 99% of the time it did) you can trick your body into releasing endorphins and lower stress hormone, at will.
I learned it’s OK to stop and enjoy life
Let’s be honest, life can feel like a lot at times.
Between mortgage payments, school fees and the virus that shall not be named, it’s easy to get caught in a cycle of stress and anxiety.
At the end of my 45 minute class the instructor asked us to think about the difference in how we felt at the start of class compared to the end.
Taking deep, calm and controlled breaths it was clear to me that I’d done more than giggle my butt off. I felt relaxed. I felt calm. But most of all, I felt free.
It’s so easy to retreat into our shells. There’s endless pressure from all angles (including ourselves) to be somebody or behave a certain way. This pressure might come from a good place, but more often than not it leads to disappointment and needless stress.
Laughter yoga let me be silly, fun and fearless for 45 minutes. At first this was hard, but as everyone in class warmed into the experience you could sense a collective change in mood.
More than feeling the blood pumping or the endorphins rushing through my body, I felt like I was myself. In the best sense of the word.
And not only did no one judge me, but I didn’t judge myself.
I went into laughter yoga thinking it was just about laughing. Instead I got a powerful reminder not to get too wrapped up in adulthood.
And that living in the moment, giving yourself permission to be yourself, and letting your inner child out, are all just as important.
Lisa Devereaux (40 – Gold Coast)