“Why Laughter is the Best Medicine” with Winnielee Chuus

laughbug6Positive_Vibes_Show_Why_Laughter_is_the_Best_Medicine

Listen to the Radio Interview about Laughter Yoga on Positive Vibes on www.spreaker.com with Host Winnielee Chuus and Certified Laughter Yoga Leader, Seia Roots.

Winnielee Chuus is an attraction marketing expert based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. She been a student of Law of Attraction for over 20 years; and specifically focus on how to raise one vibration. Winnielee has been joining us for Sunday Laughter Club on Commercial Drive over the past two months. Winnielee’s interest in Laughter Yoga springs off her attraction to spreading positive vibrations.

In the interview Seia and Winnielee talk about the origins of Laughter Yoga, the health benefits of laughing, and the twice annual Certified Laughter Yoga Leader Training, happening April 12-14. Friday night is a free event, open to all. Join us Friday 7-9pm at The Canadian Centre for Peace for this fabulous Laughter Event with Laughers from all over BC.


Grade 7 Laughter Project

Recently, roles were reversed when I was interviewed by Taigan Borges. A student in Grade 7, Taigan chose Laughter as the topic for his project.  He came up with some fabulous questions that really delve into the experience of a Laughter Club. I enjoyed responding to these thoughtful inquiries. Read on to learn more!
1.  Taigan: Do you interact with your students? If so, how?
Seia: In Laughter Yoga we don’t have teachers, we have Leaders who help guide people through laughter much like a Nature Guide would when on a hiking trail. There are always fun surprises in Laughter Yoga. These happen because of all the interacting, just like a hike is often more fun and you’ll see more things if you are with other people.
There are three may principles of Laughter Yoga and they all involve interaction:
  • Simulate to Stimulate
  • Eye Contact
  • Motion moves Emotion
The Simulate to Stimulate, (or Fake It Till You Make It!) Principle, basically means: pretend to laugh, eventually fake laughter turns into real laughter.
A big part of our interaction in Laughter Yoga is Eye Contact. When we look each other in the eyes, it makes real laughter come more easily. And it helps us feel connected with each other, which makes us feel good and have the sense that we belong.
The Motion Moves Emotion Principle comes from the knowledge that sitting still tends to keep us in the same feeling we sat down with. When we move around, we often feel many more emotions! This reminds us that we don’t have to be stuck in one emotion.
Let’s use the example exercise of ‘Cell Phone Laughter’. The Laughter Leader demonstrates pretending to be talking on an imaginary cell phone – to the funniest person ever! Then everyone does this: we talk on imaginary phones pretending to listen to a very funny person (Fake It Till You Make It). We walk around the room (Motion moves Emotion), and make eye contact with everyone we see.  We aren’t just laughing with the person on our imaginary phone, but also with everyone in the room!  Sometimes people laugh so hard that it’s hard to hold onto the phone even though it’s imaginary! We walk around the room, laughing, and making eye contact until the Laughter Leader starts to clap and cheer. This lets everyone know that it is time to get introduced to a different exercise.
2. TB: Do any of your students have a hard time laughing?
SR: Sometimes people find it hard to laugh at Laughter Yoga because they are used to hearing a joke or seeing something funny first. It doesn’t take long for people to realize that it’s fun, and feels good to laugh. We don’t need any reason!
3. TB: Why did you choose the job of laughter yoga?
SR: I liked laughter yoga the first time I tried it, but I didn’t know I would also like being a laughter yoga leader. I participated in Laughter Yoga once a week for a year. When I was out with friends or at my other job I would show people some Laughter Yoga exercises. I liked doing this so much that I decided to take the training to become a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader!
4. TB: To teach them, do you make them laugh?If so, do you have trouble with it?
SR: Everyone already knows how to laugh, so I don’t teach them that. My job is more to help people feel it’s okay to laugh. Sometimes people may have trouble laughing if they think people will laugh at them. In Laughter Yoga, we don’t laugh at each other, we laugh with each other! Everyone has this same goal of laughing with each other. I also help people feel okay to laugh by pointing out how good Laughter is for our health. To laugh, we have to be breathing, we exhale “Ha ha ha ha”! We exhale so much that we need to take a deep breath in, and all this deep breathing helps get more oxygen to our brain and all other parts of our body. This helps keep us healthy. Most people want to be healthy, so I start by telling them these facts.
5. TB: Why do students come to your class?
SR: Many people have stress in their lives, feel alone, and don’t get enough exercise. Doing Laughter Yoga helps us fight stress, feel connected with others and get exercise!  These are the most common reasons people share for why they come to Laughter Club.
6. TB: What is your favorite part of laughter yoga
SR: I like every part of Laughter Club! One of my favorite parts happens near the end of the hour. After we’ve been moving around and doing exercises, we all lie down on the floor on our backs. Then we laugh as much as we want, any way we want to. We can even make funny animal noises and drum our feet on the floor. It feels so good to get to make noise, and it doesn’t have to make any sense at all. After getting out all these sounds we close out eyes and lie quietly. I like the way I can feel the energy of laughter still moving.
7. TB: How does laughter heal your body?
SR: Laughter boosts our immune system which help us avoid getting sick. Sometimes people get sick from an illness called Depression – being sad for a long time. Laughter Yoga helps people avoid Depression even if they’ve been sick with Depression before. Laughter also has some interesting effects on our brains. When we laugh our brain sends out chemicals to the rest of our body. These chemicals are like medicine that help our bodies and minds function at their best.
8. TB: Has laughter ever done anyone harm?
SR: Laughter Yoga is exercise so it’s not a good idea to do it too soon after surgery or when feeling sick. Doing Laughter Yoga when I am tired though, always gives me more energy! Most of the exercises can be changed a little bit to make them more gentle, or in the other direction – to create a more intense workout that makes you sweat (which also helps the body get rid of things it doesn’t need).
Thank you so much Taigan for your interest in Laughter and for sharing your interview with me on the Laugh Bug Blog!
– Seia

Laughter in All Spaces – Laugh Bug Interview with Solomon

The Laugh Bug is back in action after two months busy with many laughter events (Training new Certified Laughter Yoga Leaders in downtown Vancouver, leading Laughter Yoga with the federal government of Canada and World Laughter Day). Some grounding was in order and some of the greatest ‘get grounded’ energy I’ve found exists near Solomon who I got to hang out with and interview. Solomon is one of those old laughter souls, though he’s fairly new to Laughter Club, the components, people and laughter, are among his favorite things. Read on!

LB:  How did you hear about Laughter Yoga?

S:  I think I saw some film.  I really liked a lot of “Fake it ’till you make it!”  It’s so silly and yet at some level it makes sense.

LB:  When did you go to your first Laughter Club?

S:  In November of last year (2011), I went to the one in North Vancouver, it was interesting and I was lucky to see videos with Dr. Kataria, he’s such an original, hilarious.  It’s unexpected to see a General Practitioner so with the holistic approach.

LB:  What impact has doing Laughter Yoga had in your life?

S:  I can tell you the profound impact Laughter Yoga has had on me, the results are phenomenal.

I went to Laughter Clubs, and it’s kind of like Tai Chi; when I go to the gym, I feel it in the muscles, from the outside.  Laughter Yoga is like Tai Chi, I feel stronger from inside.  I gotta tell you, the first couple of sessions were hard, it’s not easy, but I think showing up and giving it your all is important.  Putting my judgments aside and just doing it – and I was richly rewarded.

LB:  An example of Laughter Yoga in daily life?

S:  I’ll give you an example:  This morning, I hear the phone ring, I pick it up and it’s dead. It’s 9 AM and I’m an hour late.  So I’m half asleep and boiling water spills everywhere while  I’m making coffee, and then the dishcloth catches on fire from the stovetop burner, and instead of saying “$*&@!”…I laughed!  Threw my head back and laughed.  To have that happen in the morning when I’m grumpy and I need my coffee, and to be having a response like laughing it off is new to me, and it’s a direct result of Laughter Yoga.  And the effect lingers for days.  So that’s the impact of Laughter Yoga on my daily life.

LB:  So it affects your ability to handle stress and to have a different perspective?

S:  Totally.  It’s a totally different perspective on life.

LB:  Do you find most people think Laughter Yoga is silly?

S:  Yes, there’s a resistance that is quite evident.  Not everyone I asked came to Laughter Club!

LB:  Do you think it would help people get past their judgments if they know about the medical science that’s gone into this?

S:  I think we’re at an intersection of something very interesting because the way Laughter Yoga has engulfed us, all over the world, with its charm and we experience how it’s related to present-day reality, psychology, medicine; these intersections are phenomenal, and we don’t know as yet where it will go, so it’s very exciting

LB:  So it’s evolving?

S:  I would like to see some kind of retreat where there’s more of a philosophical discussion around the culture of Laughter Yoga, all these questions.  Laughter Yoga is so profound it’s time to have to a conversation about it.

 


Wonder, Happiness, Healing & Connection – The Laugh Bug Interview with Chris Pollitt

“We have to do this! This is important! This is amazing!” were the words Chris Pollitt spoke after trying Laughter Yoga for the first time in 2007. He knew he’d caught the laugh bug, and he immediately started co-leading a monthly laughter group.

Since then Chris has become a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader and has shared his laughter around Vancouver, at a contest in Montreal, a conference in California and at a cruising altitude.

Filmmaker of Laughology, Albert Nerenberg, referred to Chris Pollitt as a ‘Laugh-lete’. Having known Chris personally for several years, and from my interview with him in February, I think this an apt word to describe a man who loves to laugh and has skill for sharing it.

Seia: “How did your Daily Laugh Project come to be?”

Chris: “I’d been working for a software development company for seven years, [when] I found myself, along with over 3000 of my co-workers out-of-work.”

After a few long days, Chris decided to turn his frown upside-down and started a company called Universal Laughter. His first project, A Daily Laugh, involved filming himself laughing in a variety of ways.

Chris: “I would do famous laughs, like Elmer Fud, Daffy Duck, Les Nessman (from WKRP), [and] the pirate laugh “a-ha-ha-ha ARR”. Every day, a different laugh and I’d put it on YouTube. [I would] go out and find complete strangers and laugh with them! I actually meant to stop after Day 100 but by then there was such momentum. I wasn’t even trying and it on for another 30 days.”

During the 130 Days of Laughter, Chris laughed with Vancouver police at the Car-free Day events, with a band at the Jazz Festival, flight attendants at 30,000 feet (on the way to Costa Rica) and (after landing) the pilot.

Seia: “Did laughter help you deal with stress after loosing your job?”

Chris: “Absolutely… it got me up and dressed and out the door. I had a mission. I had a purpose. It’s crucial: structure, purpose, and socializing all of these are important for emotional health – (I’m a career counsellor now, so I should know). It was a time of wonder, happiness, healing, and connection. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been laid off!” 

Seia: “In Laughter Yoga, we laugh and we explore other forms of emotional expression. You seem to be very transformed by this kind of non-laughing laughter exercise.”

Chris: “In my mind there are two kinds of laughter exercises:

1) Exercises that stimulate laughter, and are fun!

2) Exercises that are powerful that have a real incredible healing potency to them. They’re fun but there is deeper work going on, and whether you’re aware of that deeper work, it still works.”

Seia: “What is one of your favorite laughter memories?”

Chris: “[During the] Yogathon at UBC, I was walking around looking at booths and this woman jumped out and started laughing. I thought, that’s a very strange thing to do! Why would this person be laughing? I don’t even know this person! I looked down and saw I was wearing my Laughter Yoga shirt, it all clicked and I began to laugh!  Then, we found out that was the exact time they were trying to do a meditation. We had to quickly quiet ourselves [laughter].”

Seia: “What brings you the greatest joy?”

Chris: “Bringing other people joy.”

Seia: “What is one of your favorite quotes from Dr. Kataria?”

Chris: ‘Life is serious. Death is serious. It is time to take laughter seriously.’ “He’s absolutely right. Laughter is powerful. Laughter is healing. Lets not wait for it to happen, lets make it happen.”

Chris has a bounty of beautiful laughter stories, and I am grateful he took the time to share some of them with me.

 

 


Laughter Yoga, Make Laughter Your Choice

This month I met with the bright and delightful Dr. Kasim al-Mashat. Kasim has a background in counselling psychology and works at SFU’s Health and Counselling Services.  He provides individual/group counselling, and his work includes leading weekly Laughter Yoga for staff and students. I appreciated Kasim’s insights about Laughter Yoga based on his background in psychology, and dedicated meditation practice, and his passion for and health and well-being on all levels. My chat with Kasim included as much laughing as it did talking.

Seia:  How did you first learn about Laughter Yoga (LY)?

Kasim: I noticed someone who was laughing after [a meditation] retreat finished. His laughter was so genuine, so unfiltered. He told me about LY and to come try it out. I did the Google thing, looked up LY and figured maybe I’ll go try it.

S: What were your thoughts at your first Laughter Club?

K: [Laughter] The word that comes to mind is ‘zoo’. I thought ‘this isn’t for me’. My mind was challenged.

S: How did you feel after you left your first Laughter Club?

K: Very uplifted, and quite stunned. It wasn’t what I expected (holding yoga postures). It wasn’t easy for me to let go.

S: Have you ever gone to Laughter Club when you were feeling angry or sad?

K: Oh absolutely. That’s one of the gifts. I’ve entered [LY] different ways but always leave in a similar way, most of the time truly uplifted.

S: Would you describe yourself a being a generally happy person?

K: Certainly positive. It hasn’t been easy. LY keeps inviting me on that path of choosing wellness, choosing joy. It’s a choice it doesn’t happen by accident.  I choose laughter.

S: Did you choose laughter as a kid?

K: [Laughter], I think so. But I got serious.

S: Is the seriousness what turned you onto meditation?

K: It did. It was this quest for truth, a deeper way of being in life.

S: What does LY teach you that you didn’t get out of meditation?

K: They are both after the same thing, which is being present in the moment.  Laughter [is] permission to let loose, it recharges me for the sitting stillness.

S: What was your experience of Laughter Yoga Teacher Training you did with the founder of Laughter Yoga, Dr. Kataria?

K: Dr. K is truly a beautiful human being. It was such a gift to be with a group of people who wanted to dive into a realm of openness. It was a workout for the stomach too!

S: What are some other benefits of LY?

K: There’s a lot of research on the medical and psychological benefits, for me the big part is taking myself less seriously. It recharges my battery. It has added colour to live, I feel more creative. [Also], I don’t get colds as often!

S: If you could bring LY to any group anywhere in the world, who would it be?

I think we are all well connected. [I believe in] spreading laughter with whomever we’re with, wherever we are at.

S: If you could send one message to people about LY what would it be?

K: Give it a chance. I’ve never seen anyone not laugh!

Kasim is a certified Laughter Yoga Teacher. His next training is April 2012!


Laugh Your Mind Calm

This week, Erol Herold and I sat cross-legged on the floor of Open Door Yoga Studio on Commercial Drive. He shared with me that the first time he came to Laughter Yoga he stood at the door but couldn’t bring himself to join the group. Getting past his initial uneasiness about Laughter Yoga allowed Erol to discover an enjoyable practice to laugh his mind calm.

Seia: What drew you to Laughter Yoga?

Erol: I sailed with a Captain (also a Laughter Yoga Leader) who said “come to Laughter Yoga.” Over the years, he kept asking me. I was always skeptical. [I thought] well that’s kind of just silly really. Why do you laugh, if you have no reason to laugh?

One day [years later] I came to the door and then I left.

Seia: Did you think they were acting really weird?

Erol: Yes. But when I went back, I enjoyed it and I kept coming back.

Seia: Do you think the mind is drawn to laughter?

Erol: Yes. [Laughter] separates stress from the mind, and the mind becomes calm, silent, beautiful, the real you.

Seia: If you didn’t come to Laughter Yoga for a month would you notice a difference, would you miss it?

Erol: I’ve never gone a month [without attending Laughter Yoga] since I started, I probably would miss it. It helps to come every week. The mind starts to understand the whole concept of Laughter Yoga.

Seia: What is the concept of Laughter Yoga, in your mind?

Erol: The mind produces constant stress, you react to that [stress] by laughing. You laugh with your mind, to your mind, and become one.

Seia:  Is that the ‘yoga’ piece for you – that ‘becoming one’ with yourself through laughter?

Erol: Absolutely,  yes. Yoga, meditation, Laughter Yoga – exercises for the mind, to calm the mind.

Seia:  And doing these Laughter Yoga exercises – with lots of movement and energy – you’re saying this calms the mind?

Erol: Oh, yes. The mind is a noisy instrument, constantly making noise. So what you do is make noise with your mind and you calm the mind down.

Seia: Like a release valve?

Erol: Yesit’s a release valve of your mind.

Seia: When you were a child, did laughter help you with stress?

Erol: [Whenever] I had a group of people, I was clowning them.

Seia: Were you a class clown?

Erol: Yes, I was entertaining. [One day] I ran out of material. I was doing jokes and imitations and then I had nothing to say and I started laughing, superficially. They looked at me and I forced the laughter. The other people found it so funny – we all laughed. I didn’t know what Laughter Yoga was then.

Seia:  It sounds like you’ve always been in touch with the instrument of laughter.

Erol: We all are. Everybody. The only problem is we are not aware of it.

Seia: Do you think we are more in touch with it when we are kids?

Erol: Absolutely, when we are kids everything is more natural. As you grow up you start identifying with what your mind says and you drift from awareness.

Seia: Would you say that laughter brings you to a state of enlightenment?

Erol: Yes, because when you laugh you are fully present.

Seia: What is one of your favorite exercises?

Erol: I like spontaneity. Just let go! If you don’t know your next movement -it’s beautiful.  You may be a little excited, but something will come.

Seia: If you were to meet the founder of Laughter Yoga, Dr. Madan Kataria, what would you say?

Erol: I would just laugh, because I would feel at home with him.

Learn more about how you can Laugh Your Mind Calm. Check out the book Laughter, Tears, Silence: Expressive Meditations to Calm Your Mind and Open Your Heart by Pragito Dove.

 


First ever post from the Laugh Bug Blog

Welcome to the first ever posting from the Laugh Bug Blog (say that 3 times fast)! My name is Seia (pronounced Say-Yeah!) and I am thrilled to begin my new role for 2012: managing The Smiling Yogi website.

Dr. Madan Kataria, a medical doctor, began to learn the scientifically proven health benefits of laughter in 1995. We all know the saying “Laughter is the best medicine” …Dr. Kataria wanted to create a delivery method for this best medicine, and that’s what happened when he developed Laughter Yoga.

Laughter is highly contagious (check out the trailer from the movie Laughology,) and like thousands of people worldwide I have not only caught the Laugh Bug, I’ve become a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader, and joined Dr. Kataria’s vision to spread World Peace through Laughter.

It’s a great year to laugh and connect, so on behalf of The Smiling Yogi website and Laugh Bug Blog I will interview professionals and amateurs who have caught the Laugh Bug. We’ll share insights into this contagion and the AMAZING side effects experienced. But that’s not all, I will also share thoughts from people are newer to Laughter Yoga, who may not have caught the Laugh Bug – yet.

On the Laugh Bug Blog discover the latest and greatest Laughter Yoga insights and events.  You’ll also get some creative DIY actions based on positive psychology you can take to increase the laughter, joy and good health in your life as well as ideas on how you too can help to spread the Laugh Bug!

Are you ready for a fun year?  Check back to the Laugh Bug Blog in on Monday January 9th for the posting from my first interview. In the meantime I invite you check out The Smiling Yogi website @ www.thesmilingyogi.com  and share your comments and suggestions for the website or the Laugh Bug Blog.

Seriously smiling,

Seia

 

P.S. check out the Laughology link below for a smile!