I hate saying it this way, as it sounds very new-age, but I "found" Laughter Yoga very much by serendipity. My backstory and history are as tragic as anyone else's, and that story will unfold here at some point because it is germane to my overall story. But my discovery was a result of research while pursuing my Master's degree in Industrial & Organizational Psychology from Walden University. I had to research something that would interest me related to organizational psychology. My Google Scholar search was, I believe, "Laughter at work," and one of the first websites to populate was www.laughteryoga.org. One web click in late 2015 and my life has not been the same since!
"...I've found my thing!"
I did not know right then how I would use Laughter Yoga with my degree, or even if there was anything career-worthy in what I saw, but the videos I saw on day one: people laughing with mirthful abandon, and getting de-stressed and happier in the process; I knew I would do SOMETHING with Laughter Yoga. My wife, who was pursuing her Master's in Public Administration at Walden, was across the hall in our house, and I called over to her:
"Sweetie, I've found my thing!"
Videos and website training links were good, to begin with, but it became clear that to do more with this idea, I needed to start a local club and see if there was any traction with laughter in Alaska. Before I could go much further, my first step was to obtain my Certified Laughter Yoga Leader training, which I did in Chicago in 2016. I have successfully run two weekly, free Laughter Clubs in Fairbanks, Alaska since. In late 2017, I earned my Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher training, and I am now able to train others in the Leader certification.
"...not as silly OR intimidating as it sounds."
Many times when I explain to someone that I teach Laughter Yoga, I can see a "mental cringe," before I have a chance to explain what it is and further explain that no, they will not have to see me in yoga pants. Before I launch any more blogs that a very few will read (thanks to those that do!), I thought I would take a moment to explain as simply as I could what Laughter Yoga is, and why it is not as silly OR intimidating as it sounds.
In simplest terms, Laughter Yoga is an activity in which people stand or sit in a group, make eye contact, and engage in laughter exercises, where the laughter is not a result of jokes or humor. This activity is based on the scientific principle that the body cannot differentiate between simulated or "fake" laughter, and real, genuine laughter. This "exercise laughter" is combined with deep, yogic breathing and followed with guided relaxation. This activity releases endorphins, suppresses cortisol, improves mood and energy, lowers blood pressure, and is a whole LOT of fun to do!
The best way to understand Laughter Yoga is to engage in a LY session. If you are not there yet, the second-best (and probably most practical while reading this) is to watch a video about Laughter Yoga. CLICK HERE to go to my Video page.
I've saved the best part for last.
The best part?
Laughter Yoga can be done by anyone, no matter age, experience, or physical ability level. In my weekly class, I regularly have a 2-year old and a 97-year old, IN THE SAME CLASS!! That is right, this engaging, fun, and healthy activity can be done with children, seniors, developmentally or physically challenged, summer camps, in water, at parks and recreation programs, schools, businesses, non-profit organizations, hospitals, prisoners, the possibilities are endless!
OK Mike, this sounds great, what do I do next?
Contact me. It is that simple, really. I work with individuals and groups of all sizes. If you want to be happier in whatever you do, I can help! The first step is to talk, so let's do it! Ho Ho, Ha Ha Ha!