Laughter Yoga with a Parkinson’s Support Group in London Laughing for the Health of it

Very excited to have worked with a Parkinson’s disease support group last month in London.

The call came through after they saw laughter yoga featured on BBC 2  “Trust me I’m a Doctor” You can see the video here.   Laughter Yoga is a very powerful complementary wellbeing tool. Click to Watch Laughter Yoga on Trust me I’m a Doctor

I have been a fan of my colleague in the USA Gita Fendelman since stumbling upon her work with those suffering from chronic conditions.  I had not realised that Gita is a parkinsons sufferer. This i found out when researching laughter yoga and Parkinson’s disease.  You can hear Gita’s incredible story here and there is no shadow of doubt that Laughter Yoga is helping not just Gita but those she works with. Gita has found laughter yoga to be highly beneficial to her quality of life.

So up until now in addition to working with laughter yoga in corporate wellbeing, I have been very lucky to share laughter yoga with people who suffer from various illnesses and ailments including Cancer, Chronic fatigue syndrome, CFS/ME, Bipolar, Chronic Pain, Depression, Anxiety and more…… This was a first for me to work with a group suffering from Parkinson’s.  I checked in with colleagues who had all had great results with such groups.

The most incredible thing to note is why Laughter Yoga is so good for those who suffer from Parkinson’s.  When we laugh we release a cocktail of chemicals including dopamine into the system and this is big one with regard to PK and helpful for alleviating some of the physical and emotional symptoms of Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s starts with the slow degeneration of dopamine. Dopamine helps to regulate muscle function and movement. Dopamine supports our overall energy production and feelings of happiness.  The symptoms of Parkinson’s occur as a result of a dopamine loss.

There can be various other symptoms connected to the disease such as low mood, depression, anxiety, pain which are all ailments and issues that laughter yoga can help with.  Laughter Yoga is an instant stress release, helps to reduce blood pressure and lifts depression. It also boosts the immune system and increases circulation and oxygen levels throughout the body and brain. The endorphin’s we release when we laugh are said to be stronger than morphine which helps with any pain. We also know laughter can help boost our immune system.

So I was delighted to be contacted by a Parkinson’s Support Group in London for a laughter yoga session.  After doing my research I planned a workshop  that I felt would work. I gathered as much info as possible prior to the session.  I was told that the participants were within different stages of the illness with one person in a wheelchair and all with differing degrees of mobility.

I planned a seated session where we were seated in a tight circle with a space in the middle to allow for movement. This way I could include everyone. Each exercise was prepared so it would be suitable for both seated and movement so those who could stand were encouraged to  interact with those seated.

I arrived early and very quickly noticed there was one lady who was very obviously less mobile than the rest of the group, with her head down and she was sat next to a guy who was helping to care for her. A few people did not have any obviously noticeable symptoms so it was a very mixed mobility group.

Started the session with a song that I felt everyone would most likely know and took copies of the words to hand out.  The song, “My Bonny lies over the ocean” turned out to be a good choice. I also took some egg rattles for a couple of reasons. We could create some movement and rhythm whilst we sung the song. This also allowed me to see how much movement people had at the start of the workshop. It was a lot of fun to shake the rattles as we sung creating lots of rhythm and movement. When we sing it instantly lifts our mood and raises the energy.  Actually singing and laughter share many of the same benefits.

I handed out the egg rattles, and the guy helping the less mobile lady wrapped her hand around an egg rattle.

Everyone managed to shake the rattles, and we sang My Bonny. I also gave everyone the option of replacing the song words with Ha Ha’s and Ho Ho’s etc: so same tune, and laughter sounds.

The song did exactly what I wanted, and we were ready to roll. I managed to check out movement etc and then started the sharing of name intros followed by Ha Ha’s, sending lots of smiles and giggles around the circle.

For all exercises we had an option of standing up or remaining seated, greeting laughter where we greeted one another by shaking hands and laughing. Cell phone laughter (receiving the funniest call ever), laughing at our self, laughing at aches and pains and more.

The most incredible thing happened during this session and I felt like i was witnessing magic, the magic of laughter 🙂  The lady who appeared less mobile than the others stood up and joined in. She started off a little uneasy on her feet but I could not believe she had stood up. By the end of the session her head was up, she shared a few words too. It was almost like she had come alive. It felt like the group in the main really enjoyed the session and everyone remarked that they felt better at the end of the session.

This was one of my most personally satisfying sessions. I so so enjoyed working with this group and hope it will be one of many.

The way forward, I recommended telephone and skype laughter to the group and a daily dose of laughing for the health of it.  The group were given various exercises and tips which they could bring in to everyday life. It will be fabulous if they choose to do some more laughter yoga sessions or if members of the support group can attend a local laughter club.

Following on from this session, I have been approached by a Dementia support group which is amazing.

In my research I have found the following articles really useful.

and the article below by my colleague in Australia Connie Costa

Laughter As A Complementary Therapy For People with Parkinson’s

For more info on Parkinson’s please visit Parkinson’s UK – www.parkinsons.org.uk

Laughter Yoga for Health and Wellbeing in London Laughing for the health of it

Laughter Yoga never ceases to amaze me and I continuously hear more and more stories about how incredible this very powerful tool is for so many people.

Laughter Yoga is and has helped colleagues, participants and clients. In this blog I share just some of their amazing experiences and stories.

One lady, I will refer to as “N” who suffers from bipolar sent me such a lovely email of how laughter yoga is helping her. It brought tears to my eyes when I read it. I know it is helping her and she very rarely misses a class but to receive her heartfelt email was just beautiful.

Laughter Yoga helps with Bipolar

“How can I describe laughter yoga? To me it is an invaluable happiness tool. I started laughter yoga about a year ago and have been a strict devotee since then. Every session brings me much joy and lifts my spirits by allowing me to laugh and play and regress back to childhood silliness. I have bipolar and have found laughter yoga a fabulous tool to lift my spirits when I’m feeling really down. Even when I feel fine, laughter yoga lifts you up and brings peace and calmness of mind. Odette is a fabulous leader whose laughter and joy for her work is infectious.”

Laughter Yoga reconnects us to laughter and joy

A guy I will call “George” also a regular at class. When he first came along I wondered if he was enjoying the class as he looked somewhat awkward and he was the last person I expected to come back again but then I received an email from George keen to know when the next class was. He had realised how he had become stuck in his intellect and had actually forgotten how to laugh. G had found the laughter yoga really helpful in reminding him how it felt to laugh. Regular Laughter Yoga classes helped George to reconnect with laughter and joy.  The more we laugh, the easier it flows 🙂 Just like turning a tap on that has been off for some time.  From this situation, I also learnt not to make assumptions about anyone’s experience and just because someone may look awkward at their first laughter yoga experience, one never knows what they are really experiencing and feeling inside. Laughter can be a very complex emotion and once we allow ourselves to push through our comfort zone, magic happens.

Laughter Yoga for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and ME 

Celia arrived at class having been recommended Laughter Yoga by a forward thinking GP 🙂  C has been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS which is also known as ME or myalgic encephalomyelitis) and C is also suffering from anxiety. She has not missed a class yet and has been coming along for a few months. I can certainly see a huge rise in her confidence. I wish I had taken before and after photos 🙂 We have a chair on hand for C so she can take a seat anytime during the class. Most of the exercises work well for those who are seated. C is enjoying the classes and I am really hoping she keeps with the LY as I have many colleagues who have remarkable stories of how Laughter Yoga has helped with ME.

Laughter Yoga as a Creativity Boost

Another one of our regulars, I shall call M. M just loves to Laugh and comes along to do just that and he often also joins us at our after laugh socials. A few months ago we had a fabulous group of laughers and the laughter meditation was a very very long one, truly very powerful. M totally reached that point of catharsis which is an incredible release and very powerful in it’s own right. So when M got home his writing just flowed. M is a script writer and he had reached a bit of a block with this particular script. The laughter yoga had helped to boost his creativity and got his creative juices flowing once more.

I also see many many changes with our regulars, far to many to mention but the most obvious one is how their confidence grows with regular laughter yoga practice. It is literally like seeing a flower bloom, just incredible.

So many of our regulars come along for help with anxiety, depression and probably most common of all Stress. Almost everyone mentions how they feel better and less stressed after a laughter yoga session or class.

For regular Laughter Yoga Classes please visit http://laughteryogawellness.co.uk/laughter-yoga-classes-and-workshops-in-london/

For further info or to book a Laughter yoga wellbeing Workshops for your group or business , please click to contact us today.  We have experience of working with small/medium and global organisations, community groups, charities, hen parties. In addition to the incredible wellbeing benefits, our workshops are ideal for team building too!!

You too can learn how to help others and lead laughter yoga classes and workshops. We have dates coming up in October/November 2017 in London for Laughter Yoga Training Courses in London. We are also happy to travel to you to deliver our training courses. Please register via http://laughteryogawellness.co.uk/laughter-yoga-leader-training/ for further information and bookings.