Laughter yoga trend gains in popularity among local seniors

Mar 8, 2019

At a Laughter Yoga session at the Brighton Place Library in Tonawanda, a small group of 4 laughter yoga leaders, and a couple of participants all stand in a circle, gathered in the library’s community activity room. After introductions all the smiles quickly turn into giggles, and the awkwardness turns into openness.


At a Laughter Yoga session at the Brighton Place Library in Tonawanda, a small group of 4 laughter yoga leaders, and a couple of participants all stand in a circle, gathered in the library’s community activity room. After introductions all the smiles quickly turn into giggles, and the awkwardness turns into openness. 

Laughter yoga is a form of exercise in group where you look at each other, imitate laughter and start laughing yourself.

“The important thing when you’re leading a class is eye contact,” said Don Dehoff, who has been a laughter yoga teacher for nine years. “You know when you see someone laughing-- you start laughing.”

According to the Mayo clinic a good laugh helps reduce stress, stimulate your heart, lungs and muscles, soothes tension, lessens depression, improves your immune system, relieves pain and increases your quality of life.

Participant was Judie Dziedzic, a former accountant, who following radiation treatment last fall started Laughter Yoga. She is a now a leader and is teaching it to seniors in her housing complex.

“I’m back to myself and I am back all the way. I have found a difference in some of the people I work with my apartment complex now their walking with an extra step and it’s awesome,” she said.

That’s the prescription handed out by Doctor Madan Katarian, who started the Laughing Yoga Movement with five people in a park in Mumbai India in 1995.

At a TedX presentation Katraian stated the brain cannot tell the difference between fake laughter and real laughter so it responds to belly laughter if sustained for 10-15 minutes by reducing stress and anxiety. 

“Laughter is a beneficial when you heartedly laugh from your diaphragm,” he said during the presentation. “But this is not appropriate, and real people will call you crazy. So what we do in laughter yoga we provide a safe environment so you laugh as heartedly as you want with your diaphragm.”

Laughter Yoga Teacher Jennifer May says many of the laughter yoga exercises can oxygenate your body and mind.

“The ‘Ho-Ho Ha-Ha’ you can release a lot of air and intake and exhale a lot of air,” she said.

May says sometimes adults don’t laugh enough.

“We don’t laugh at something, we laugh for childlike laughter,” she said.  “Because children laugh three to 500 times a day, adults laugh unfortunately three to five times a day we want to change that!”