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Laughing yourself healthy: Laughter yoga changing lives for the better

Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher Lynn Himmelmann (middle) laughs her students into happy, healthier lives through weekly, one-hour laughter yoga sessions. Natalie Quinlan/Global News

TORONTO–Certified laughter yoga teacher Lynn Himmelmann runs her yoga studio based on the old adage, ‘laughter is the best medicine.’

“Laughter yoga is an actual laughing practice and it teaches us to engage in laughter without depending on jokes or humour,” Himmelmann said.  “We’re actually socially conditioned to wait for things to be funny or listen to a good joke, so this whole way of laughing means we’re just going to find it from the inside out.”

She was first introduced to laughter yoga ten years ago and has been practicing it since.

Himanshi Joshi, a regular participant in the classes, said he has witnessed the benefits of laughter yoga, with the positive effects taking hold almost immediately.

“The first class really made the biggest difference,” Joshi said.  “It made me realize that I wasn’t laughing at all.  Last year, I went through a clinical depression and was actually suffering from anxiety and now I’m smiling from my eyes, not from just right here.”

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Himmelmann explained the benefits range from feeling more relaxed to sleeping better at night.

But like most things in life, good things come with hard work. In this class, the hard work takes the form of a series of intense breathing drills in each hour-long class.

“Laughter is a very intense breathing exercise,” Himmelmann explained.  “It helps expel the old stale air out of the lungs, it gives the whole system a sense of refreshment, oxygenation.  So after a laughter class, you feel energized, vibrant, much more positive.”

William Murray, another participant, agrees that laughter yoga is quite the workout.

“It’s just a great way to let loose, relieve tension, and just make yourself feel better all over.  And as Lynn said, you lose weight in ten minutes here—better than the treadmill!”

If you or someone you know is interested in joining one of Himmelmann’s laughter yoga classes, visit her website for more information on how you can laugh yourself into shape, both mentally and physically.

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