Caryl Derenfeld - CLYT, USA: Laughter Yoga has been a paradigm shifting experience for me. In December 2008 I embarked on becoming a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader thinking I could add this activity to my cache of programs for senior citizens. I had no prior knowledge or experience with Laughter Yoga, didn’t know much about the history, but instinctively knew it would be a great addition to my business. What I didn’t know was how it was going to change me for the better and be a great addition for my life.
Laughter Yoga has taught me how and why we laugh in the face of adversity. I have learned that it is a great tool when faced with monumental challenges. It has shown me, through my bringing Laughter Yoga to others that someone who has not laughed for a long time because of a terrible loss can laugh again, for no reason, and then state that they laughed today, and will sing tomorrow.
From my Laughter Yoga colleagues, I have heard of Laughter Yoga being the salve to dissolve depression, utilized in Chile after a devastating earthquake, to rebalance emotions after the bombings in Mumbai, to be the saving grace when a family member suffered a traumatic brain injury, as laughter is a great cathartic action. First hand I have seen laughter as the catalyst in the creation of community, where people came as strangers and left as friends. I have also witnessed laughing with people with dementia, and observed people who hadn’t spoken in years, laugh and say a sentence, even crack a joke.
Laughter Yoga for me is much deeper than just another activity for my senior citizens. It has taught me that the simple act of laughter can produce profound changes in one’s life – physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. In my experiences - with older adults, with college seniors, with Girl Scouts, with corporate groups, laughter reaches across all genres of life, joyfully pulls us together, enhances our creative mind, helps us to reground in times of stress and realize that all the joy we need is within us, and is best when shared with others.