Life & Business lessons from Laughter Yoga

July 7, 2016

Written by: Jennifer Jimbere | Productivity & Profitability Coach for Business Leaders

2 weeks ago I returned from a 3-day conference for the Canadian Positive Psychology Association, where I tried laughter yoga.  I’m still processing the impact it’s had on me, but I know many people were curious about what a conference like this would was like, so I wanted to share some of the experience with you.

The conference was held at the White Oaks Conference Resort and Spa in Niagara on the Lake and around 380 people were part of it.

There was a real mixture of people attending, people new to the discipline of Positive Psychology as well as those who have practiced for over 10 years and experts who brought wisdom and gifts to our learning experience. It would be very hard for me to explain to you the environment without you having experienced it.

Once the conference started, we were in for a real treat. Speakers from around the world such as Lea Waters, David L Cooperrider, Dr. Kim Cameron, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, Caroline Adams Miller and more came to share with us lessons in living the good life. I was honoured to hear her speak, sit with and talk to her as well as take a picture with Dr. Barbara Fredrickson at the conference as she was one of the first teachers I had in learning about positive psychology.

All of the participants had an exceptional list of sessions to attend and we even had a chance to engage in activities during lunch and breaks if we chose to.  So beyond all of the exceptional learning I now get to share with my coaching and consulting clients, I was curious on a lunch break, so I tried out laughter yoga.

How I found it

To be honest, this was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. I’ve attended different retreats before that have stretched my comfort zone, however this was really different.

We started with laughter as an exercise; Ho Ho Ha Ha Ha.

Then combined yoga with breathing.

When you laugh in a group, in turns into real laughter.

Until it becomes unstoppable, from deep within.

Anyone can laugh. No jokes. No comedy skills. No humour. Just a good hearty laugh.

Laughter yoga was created by a medical doctor. A physician from India, in Mumbai. He was very interested in the whole concept of laughter is the best medicine. There is a lot of research that says you need to laugh for 10-15 minutes, you know, the belly laughter, to have good health. So he created a system, for laughing for no reason. Most people when you say laughter yoga, stop and lilt their head not really knowing what to expect. Just like I did when I went to it.

What is similar in the practice is the breathing. The creators wife was a yoga instructor and that is where he got the idea of combining the two, bringing oxygen and wellness to the body. The body does not know the difference between real and fake laughter, which is incredible.

The psychological and physiological benefits are the same. Endorphins, pain killers, still get produced, even if you are faking it. Laughter yoga is not to say that we always have to be happy, laugh and pretend we are happy, not at all. It’s actually experiencing all our emotions.  Laughter yoga creates shifts in our emotions, so we are not stuck in sadness, or in always smiling, we are experiencing emotions.

Wherever you are at, by the end of it, it”s ok. It is about acceptance of who we are, exactly as we are, with whatever is showing up. Want to try laughter yoga for yourself? Visit www.laughteryoga.ca.

My insights

Having virtually no stimulation at all during this 30 minutes of being present,  made me realise just how much external stimulation we experience in the outside world. How much we lack really intense laughter and how we are constantly bombarded with content, experiences, activity and our minds never really get a chance to settle.

I found that having very limited stimulation helped me appreciate small things, like a smile from another human being, the way others chose to express themselves and seeing their insecurity.  These things that I may not have even noticed in my day-to-day life, brought joy to my heart when I experienced them during the session.

How powerful it is to sit with discomfort rather than instinctively running away or distracting myself. Being able to be with uncomfortable feelings – physical, mental and emotional – allowed old habits and patterns to rise to the surface to be released. This wasn’t particularly pleasant, but it was extremely beneficial.

Sometimes we’re reluctant to take time out of our business to work on our business, because we think that our businesses or personal responsibilities will suffer. I’ve always found the complete opposite to be true. By taking the space that we need, all areas of our life have the opportunity to thrive.

I’m sure that more insights will follow. If you have any particular questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to discuss them.

And if you want to explore and be inspired to find different ways of unleashing your strengths and maximizing your performance reach out so that we can discuss how to partner in possibility together.

Jennifer Jimbere is the President of Jimbere Coaching and Consulting, a Co-Founder and Resident Expert at the Radical Joy Seeking Women’s Club and Writer at BellaMia.

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Image credit and artist: LA artist and old friend Jennifer Verge

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