Nothing quite like having a good laugh

17:00, Sep 17 2012
Heather Pickett and Donna McLeod
HEALTHY HABIT: Members of the laughing yoga programme in Massey, Heather Pickett (L) and Donna McLeod. They enjoy meeting once a week to have a good laugh, which helps them relax.

Laughing works wonders for a healthy body and mind.

That's evident among a group of West Auckland residents who channel their inner child when they meet once a week for laughing yoga classes.

Teacher Louise Stevens has been leading the classes for four years and loves sharing the endorphins she gets from laughing.

"Nowadays it has become socially unacceptable to laugh in public. This is somewhere where you can just come and laugh. It gives me a high when I share my laughter with other people," she says.

"I read that back in the 1950s people laughed up to 18 minutes a day and now we only laugh for three minutes a day."

A typical laughing yoga session includes a warm-up and then the group laughs together. Sessions are then followed by a relaxation exercise.


"We don't laugh at jokes and we don't laugh at comedy. It's laughing for no reason and getting in touch with one's inner child," Ms Stevens says.

Henderson resident Donna McLeod, 59, enjoys laughing yoga as it helps her get some exercise.

"I heard about it through a friend and decided to go along and see what it was all about.

"It wasn't too difficult and it was lots of fun. I sleep well after I've done the yoga," she says.

Heather Pickett, 71, has been attending classes for two years and says she feels less stressed since taking part.

"I was sitting at home and I needed to get out and do some exercise.

"I have been able to relax a lot more. I used to get quite stressed and over time I have learned to relax. The breathing helps me. I wasn't breathing deep enough," she says.

Ms Stevens says she loves hearing stories about how laughing yoga has helped her students.

"Each week somebody tells me something that's been a benefit for them. It's very rewarding," she says.

There are two Laughing Yoga classes in West Auckland, at the Massey Leisure Centre at 1.30pm on Tuesday and at the Titirangi Community House at 11am on Sunday. Sessions are for 45 minutes and people can turn up on the day with a gold coin donation.

Western Leader