LAUGHTER really is the best medicine and it’s been scientifically proven.
A good belly laugh increases the supply of oxygen to the body and brain and releases the feel-good hormones that help us to stay happy and healthy.
People may say they have nothing in life to laugh about, but Linda Nightingale, a ‘laughter therapist’ based in Bourne, says: “Fake it and eventually you make it.”
However, that’s not to say Linda, of Beech Avenue, wouldn’t sympathise: it was her own ill health and the health problems of her family that got her firstly into holistic therapies and then persuaded her to undertake training to learn techniques for her latest venture, Laughter Yoga.
Linda says Laughter Yoga should not be confused with the conventional yogic movements as we think of them. Instead they are a fun wellbeing routine combining ”unconditional laughter exercises with yogic breathing, or Pranayama”. The system was devised by an Indian cardiologist who discovered the benefits of laughter while undertaking medical research in the 1990s.
“Life has always been quite challenging for the Nightingales,” says Linda, whose husband Graham and younger daughter Kerry have both had major heart surgery – Graham has had a heart transplant. Linda, who has her own health problems, says: “I got into holistic therapies, which I absolutely love doing, because of all the family illnesses. When I found out you could be a laughter therapist it just excited me so much because I have used laughter as a tool so much over the years to deal with our own challenges.”
Linda explains that many of us – and particulary older people – do not breathe deeply enough and instead get into the habit of shallow breathing. During Laughter Yoga, the breath is naturally deeper and so there is more oxygen in the body and more stale air is expelled. Linda says this boosts our immune system, reduces stress and increases the feel-good hormones in our bodies.
A typical class might begin with a warm-up class involving gentle stretching and shaking before Linda introduces everyone to the idea of Laughter Yoga and gets everyone to move around and perform fake laughter. The forced laugh quickly becomes genuine laughter as everyone is encouraged to “release the inner child” with some playful exercises, such as mimicking the actions of a gorilla or unzipping lips to release a guffaw.
“At my last session I had people who couldn’t stop laughing,” confirms Linda. “They didn’t know each other and they came from all over the place, but they have all given me fantastic feed-back from the class.”
In between laughter exercises Linda will introduce deep breathing, with everyone concentrating on expelling all the air from their lungs. “Nobody is forced, people work within their own capability,” explains Linda. “One of the key concepts of Laughter Yoga is to make people more aware of their breathing, so I combine laughter exercises, floor and standing movement, stretching, breathing and clapping in a particular way to work on their pressure points.”
Sessions end with a time of relaxation, which might include humming which Linda says is good for relaxing the facial muscles as well as keeping the sinuses clear.
Linda is running what she calls a Laughter Club, Bourne to Laugh, at Wake House – sessions are planned for next Monday, January 30, and then the fourth Monday of every month at 1.30pm as well as the second Saturday of every month at the same time – the next one is February 11.
Linda also puts on sessions at retirement homes, mindful of any health problems people may have, has been asked to organise Laughter Yoga for young carers and says it works well in a corporate setting.
Contact Linda on 01778 422469 or visitwww.nightingale-holistics.com/laughter-yoga.