Laughing to good health
LAUGHTER yoga has sparked a wave of health-conscious laughers around the world since it emerged in India in 1995, and now it's hit Lismore.
Watching a group of people fake their own laughter may appear bizarre at first, but there appears to be plenty of health benefits.
We all know the saying "laughter makes the best medicine".
Whether forced or voluntary, laughter releases endorphins which help control blood pressure and lift one's mood.
Lismore group leader Debbie Harris took up the practice five years ago after she developed arthritis in her wrist from an accident, which stopped her gardening, exercising, and even nursing her grandchild.
"I was really depressed at the time - I knew I needed help but I didn't want to go down the avenue of taking antidepressants," she said.
When she saw an ad in the paper for laughing yoga, she gave it a try, and now swears by it.
Her husband John is also a keen supporter.
A typical laughter yoga class involves cycling through several rounds of simulated laughter and movement. There's no need to actually feel like laughing, in fact it is perfectly fine for it to feel forced.
"We have a saying 'fake it till you make it', because even if you're just going through the motions and feeling like a real idiot, you're still getting the same physical and psychological benefits from it," said Mrs Harris. "It's often only after when you finish you actually realise how relaxed and energised you feel."
And unlike regular yoga, laughter yoga can be done by anyone, regardless of age or physical ability.
As a community aged care worker, she also incorporates her laughter skills with great effect with her clients.
"It's something so good I want to share it with everyone."