Laughter the best cure
If you get the giggles for no reason it could improve your health, says a Wellington laughter yoga teacher.
Christina Longley helps a small but dedicated group of students feel happier by combining yogic breathing with childlike play.
She leads a laughter yoga club in Breaker Bay and her students come from as far afield as the Hutt and Kapiti.
Ms Longley said laughter yoga, which began in Mumbai in the early 1990s, helped students tap into the childlike part of them that was able to laugh without cause.
"Children laugh up to 300 times a day," said Ms Longley, who is also a trained child yoga instructor.
"Adults have forgotten how to laugh for no reason. It has to be at a joke or a comedy."
Ms Longley discovered laughter yoga on the internet, while searching for ways she could improve her emotional health.
She trained as a laughter yoga leader with Christchurch instructor Hannah Airey, and started the Breaker Bay group in August this year.
She said she started her students off in their workout by encouraging them to fake laughter, which begins to release endorphins and eventually gives way to genuine chortles.
"Laughter is also contagious. It's a challenge not to catch the laughter bug when you're in a room full of people."
Ms Longley, a sales consultant, has watched her students improve their physical and mental health by splitting their sides laughing.
"Laughing builds strong core muscles, so your stomach gets a good workout, plus laughter clears out the lungs.
"If you live with stress and depression, laughter can really lift your mood. My students now have the ability to laugh more easily. They get addicted to laughing.
"It becomes habitual."
Ms Longley said the playful aspects of her class helped students express themselves more freely.
"In our classes, there are no boundaries, no barriers, no judgments or restriction."
Ms Longley's classes run on Wednesday evenings from 6.30pm till 7.30pm at the Breaker Bay Hall. Entry is $2.
Other Laughter Yoga groups are run in Newtown, Johnsonville and Kapiti.