Laughter is the best medicine, at least that’s what people who practice Laughter Yoga say.
Laughter Yoga is the unique combination of laughing and yoga breathing that has been growing steadily in popularity around the world. The main idea behind Laughter Yoga is that the body cannot differentiate between fake laughter and real laughter.
“Laughter and play can be important tools for wellness,” says Karen Bayard, SLCC’s head Laughter Yoga instructor. “There is a vehicle of strength and power that comes through the body, through really feeling our feelings, and laughter is one of the many ways that we can do that.”
According to Dr. Madan Kataria, the inventor of Laughter Yoga, real or fake laughter reduces mental stress, can ease pain, and promotes healing.
Kataria started the Laughter Yoga movement in 1995 with only a handful of people in a park. Now Laughter Yoga is in 60 countries and there are more than 6000 laughter clubs. Despite the growth worldwide, colleges around Utah have been slow to adopt this form of yoga.
“SLCC is pioneering this,” says Bayard. “No other colleges in the state are doing this.”
SLCC first adopted Laughter Yoga into its class choices a few years ago
Since then the number of Laughter Yoga classes at SLCC have risen to 13, with Bayard as the head instructor.
“I was leading a class for free and someone from SLCC came to the class,” says Bayard. “They liked it so much that they invited me to go teach faculty and staff. That was the beginning of my process of coming to SLCC to teach.”
Bayard had already been teaching Laughter Yoga for a few years at this point. She first became interested in Laughter Yoga after the death of her brother.
“I first got into Laughter Yoga about four years ago. My brother had passed away and I promised myself I was gonna try more new and adventurous things,” says Bayard. “My brother’s death made me realize that life is short. It really changes the way you think about things. This is when I started looking into Laughter Yoga.”
While researching Laughter Yoga she came across a training opportunity in Chicago and decided that she was going to just jump in.
I was really curious, so I decided I was going to go,” says Bayard. “I went and I loved it.”
Bayard believes Laughter Yoga helped her to remove the negative feelings she had from her brother’s death.
Others have also reached out to Laughter Yoga to help them in their time of need
“I had forgotten how to laugh,” says SLCC student Dori Jimenez. “I had two family members struggling with serious health conditions and I felt sad most of the time.”
Hearing about the benefits of Laughter Yoga, Jimenez signed up and tried out the class.
“It helped me so much just laughing for no reason even though it was difficult sometimes,” says Jimenez. “The class helped me feel better. I would recommend this class to anyone.”
Laughter Yoga is not just a free college activity. Students can sign up for the classes as part of their normal school schedule. Students can also become Laughter Yoga instructors.
“Laughter Yoga counts towards your degree,” says Bayard. “This is also the first semester that we’re offering a certification for those that want learn how to instruct Laughter Yoga sessions.”
In order to obtain the certification, a student must complete the Intro to Laughter Yoga course and the Certification course.
The intro courses can be taken at either the South City Campus or the Taylorsville Redwood Campus and the Certification course is at the Taylorsville campus as well.
“Part of [the certification student’s] job in their learning process is to lead classes for other students,” says Bayard. “This is so they can see what it feels like to lead a class.”
“Verbal text cannot fully prepare anyone for this. You will never know how amazing it all is until you are actually in it”
Bayard realizes that many students might be skeptical of Laughter Yoga but encourages students to check out the class anyway.
“Jump In,” said Bayard. “Verbal text cannot fully prepare anyone for this. You will never know how amazing it all is until you are actually in it.”
Free Laughter Yoga classes run throughout the semester. The dates, locations, and times are available on globeslcc.com in the calendar section. For more information about Laughter Yoga students should go to the class’ website.
“Check out info about our class blog at thelaughteryogaclassroom.blogspot.com,” says Bayard. “Come to our free classes.”