Laughter Yoga instructor Carolyn Nicholson gathered a group of 40 seniors for their first Laughter Yoga class in Melbourne. Starting with the chant, and progressing to basic clapping and swaying movements, she led the class into a relaxed and childlike atmosphere.
When participants were asked to move around the room and approach one another performing pretend electric-shock handshakes, the laughter really began to bubble up. Then when standing back to back, and asked to produce an abdominal deep laugh, some went into giggling fits.
The brain is just a muscle like the rest of the body, and once we start making ourselves laugh, even faking it, we retrain our body to remember to laugh, just like children do - they laugh at everything.
As soon as you fake a smile or fake laughter the body starts creating those endorphins and the cocktail of chemicals that reduces stress, relieves pain, and affects every part of the body, including the brain. It is also very good for preventing Alzheimer's.
This is what the participants said:
Allison Gould: I felt like I had regressed into my six-year-old self. We started to connect with each other, and different exercises made us friends by the end. I went from fake laughing to real laughing because you just start to give of yourself, and the brain connected somehow. I feel way more relaxed now, completely open, and really lively.
Aileen Erikson, 89: The class has made me feel young again. People around me are all depressed and anxious ... but I just feel like I'm in a new world, my blood system seems to be invigorated, different altogether. I'm going to get this thinking out of my head, stop thinking and just really laughing at life, in the moment.