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!