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 Mental Health Awareness Week in London Laughter Yoga, it's so much more than just a laugh!!

Very busy last week with no less than 8 workshops, mostly Laughter Yoga for Mental Health Awareness Week. Fabulous to see so many different organisations and corporations embracing Mental Health Awareness.

I would be really surprised if each and every one of us is not affected by MH issues at some point in our lives, be it us personally or someone we know.

I know how it feels to suffer the effects of stress, panic attacks and depression and I am thankful to have found Meditation at that time in my life.  Meditation was my support tool until I had the strength to move away from an unhealthy working environment.

Actually all that pain and misery was to be the making of me, drawing me to explore complimentary and holistic health and wellbeing methods and tools that I now work with to help others.

I now run Laughter Yoga Wellness London & UK. We offer various holistic health and wellbeing workshops and therapies that help people feel better in the workplace, including Laughter Yoga Wellbeing Workshops, Sound Meditation, EFT, Massage, Meditation and more offerings being added all the time.

Did you know ?

Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.

In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week.

You can check out more unbelievable and interesting stats over at www.mind.org.uk

Fantastic Feedback from Imperial College where I held two laughter yoga wellbeing workshops for their Staff and Teachers as part of their #mhaw17 programme. How awesome, to be the highlight of their programme. Looking forward to more workshops at Imperial College.

Check out the lovely feedback

Thank you Odette, it was the highlight of our Mental Health Awareness Week programme. Something so different, fun and beneficial to staff stress levels and overall health. “

Some more feedback from participants at our Laughter Yoga Workshops for Mental Health Awareness Week with a few Media companies. All participants remarked on how less stressed they felt after the workshops.

It was lovely. Great to finish on Yoga Nidra

Fully enjoyed the session – really wasn’t sure how I would find it, but I loved it

Loved it !!

Great Fun, Feel energised and relaxed

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but loved it and feel very calm and happy now!

Really different and fun.

Really interesting session – never practised laughter yoga before and I definitely saw a difference in my mood.

I loved this session and would recommend this to everyone!!

Really good fun! Can we do it every Week?

It was great to get out of my comfort zone.

It was great! Very relaxing and uplifting!

Relaxed – like being a kid again.

Laughter Yoga is so much more than, Just a Laugh. Really this is a very powerful Holistic Health and Wellbeing tool.

Why Laughter Yoga ?

1. Elevates Mood
2. Reduces Stress
3. Strengthens the immune system
4. Relieves Pain
5. Social Connecter and Team Builder
6. Helps to improve efficiency and performance.
7. Energy Boost
8. Laughing through Challenges. It provides strength in adversity, a coping mechanism to help people keep a positive mental attitude regardless of circumstances.

Contact us for more info on making a difference to the health and wellbeing of your staff.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month Mental Health Awareness Week 8th to 14th May

Mental health problems are all too common in the workplace and it is the leading cause of sickness absence. A staggering 70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year.
It is good to see so many businesses, charities, universities and colleges all embracing Mental Health Awareness month with many events planned and I am pleased to say we have already booked in several laughter workshops.
Mental Health Awareness Week is on 8-14 May 2017 and this is one of our busiest weeks so do book in early!! http://laughteryogawellness.co.uk/contact/

Laughter and Mental Health

There are various scholarly and research articles on the subject of Laughter and Mental Health. Many of the known physiological and psychological benefits are supported by the medical profession and various research studies.

A few links to some interesting articles on the subject of mental health and laughter.

Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review. by Yim J. For the full article please visit  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27439375

In Summary – In modern society, fierce competition and socioeconomic interaction stress the quality of life, causing a negative influence on a person’s mental health. Laughter is a positive sensation, and seems to be a useful and healthy way to overcome stress. Laughter therapy is a kind of cognitive-behavioral therapies that could make physical, psychological, and social relationships healthy, ultimately improving the quality of life. Laughter therapy, as a non-pharmacological, alternative treatment, has a positive effect on the mental health and the immune system. In addition, laughter therapy does not require specialized preparations, such as suitable facilities and equipment, and it is easily accessible and acceptable. For these reasons, the medical community has taken notice and attempted to include laughter therapy to more traditional therapies. Decreasing stress-making hormones found in the blood, laughter can mitigate the effects of stress. Laughter decreases serum levels of cortisol, epinephrine, growth hormone, and 3,4-dihydrophenylacetic acid (a major dopamine catabolite), indicating a reversal of the stress response. Depression is a disease, where neurotransmitters in the brain, such as norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, are reduced, and there is something wrong in the mood control circuit of the brain. Laughter can alter dopamine and serotonin activity. Furthermore, endorphins secreted by laughter can help when people are uncomfortable or in a depressed mood. Laughter therapy is a noninvasive and non-pharmacological alternative treatment for stress and depression, representative cases that have a negative influence on mental health. In conclusion, laughter therapy is effective and scientifically supported as a single or adjuvant therapy.

Laughter and depression: hypothesis of pathogenic and therapeutic correlation. by Fonzi L  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20380236

Laughter is a very common behaviour in everyday life, nevertheless scientific literature is lacking in studies which examine closely its nature. The study aims are: to summarise the present knowledge about laughter and its relation with depression and to make hypotheses on its possible therapeutic function. In the first part of the review the main data existing about encephalic structures involved in laughter genesis, which show participation of cortical and subcortical regions, are reported and the effects of laughter on the organism physiologic equilibrium, particularly on the neuroendocrine and immune systems, are described. In the second part, scientific evidence about the influence of depression on the ability to laugh are referred, which suggests that reduction of laughter frequency is a symptom of the disease and that its increase may be used as a marker of clinical improvement. Finally, the main assumptions supporting the hypothesis of the therapeutic action of laughter on depression are examined: first of all, it has been demonstrated that laughter is able to improve mood directly and to moderate negative consequences of stressful events on psychological well-being; in addition, it is possible that the stimulation of particular cerebral regions, involved in depression pathogenesis, and the normalisation of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenocortical system dysfunctions, both mediated by laughter, can counteract efficiently depressive symptoms; finally, the favourable effects of laughter on social relationships and physical health may have a role in influencing the ability of depressed patients to face the disease.

Reasons to adding a laughter workshop to your event and just some of the amazing benefits from our laughter yoga wellness workshops.
 
1. Elevates Mood
2. Reduces Stress
3. Strengthens the immune system
4. Relieves Pain
5. Social Connecter and Team Builder
6. Helps to improve efficiency and performance.
7. Energy Boost
8. Laughing through Challenges. It provides strength in adversity, a coping mechanism
to help people keep a positive mental attitude regardless of circumstances.
Contact us to add a laughter wellbeing workshop to your event or conference.