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Laughing your way to good health

Submitted by Bhavna Jagtiani on February 28, 2013 - 11:30am

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Every Thursday morning, Madam Feliz Angela Hassan gets together with 40 other people to laugh.

It's part of their weekly exercise regiment. That's right, they meet, stand around and laugh. 

It's called laughter yoga. 

As the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine - even if you're faking it. Madam Feliz, 39, the leader of Haha Hehe Club,  said: "Whether it's real laughter or fake laughter, the body still produces the happy (hormones) endorphins to make you feel good and boost up your immune system." 

The benefits of laughter yoga are mental as much as physical. Madam Feliz claims that 10 minutes of "hearty laughter" is almost as good as 20 minutes on the treadmill. She also said it gives the elderly a chance to make friends and put a smile on their faces when they otherwise might not get a chance to.   

Laughter yoga is based on an exercise routine that originated from India.

When this reporter gave it a try, I was finding it hard to open my eyes at 7.30am, let alone smile and make conversation with people I had just met.

The session started with warm-up exercises and of course, laughter - "Ha ha ha, hee hee hee, ho ho ho...". Needless to say, I was feeling very self-conscious. While I could hear the awkward laughter coming out of my mouth, I wasn't feeling it.

One of the exercises required you to pretend to be eating noodles out of your hands while going around to other members who were doing the same and 'share' your noodles with them.

At this point, I was ready to run far, far away from this madness. Except, how would I explain to my editor if I returned without a story to file.

Luckily, as soon as we started the exercise, participants started coming up to me and making me feel very welcome. It was hard not to get infected by the sheer ridiculousness of fake laughing for exercise until it soon turned to genuine laughter. More infectious though was the laughter and the warmth of the group. 

Retired teacher, Madam Lilian Lee, is one of the newest members of the group. The 78-year-old said: "I find it so enjoyable and it has driven all my blues away... I will promote it to everyone."

The majority of the participants and member of the club are elderly. But, laughing shouldn't just be for the elderly. Citing research done, Madam Feliz said: "Children laugh more than 500 times a day and adults about 15."

But, she added: "Nowadays, Singaporean children are very stressed."

So, she plans to bring laughter yoga to schools around Singapore and has already started approaching schools with the idea.

Laughter yoga is not a new craze. It has been around since 1995 and was introduced in Singapore around 2000. Tampines East, West, Central and Changkat Changi community centres (CCs) were among a few CCs that conducted laughter yoga sessions.

Unfortunately though, the laughter died shortly after when interest in the classes waned. 

Madam Feliz managed to bring back some laughter at Henderson Residents' Committee. In 2010, she noticed many elderly folk in her estate exercising in the mornings but without much joy. That's when she decided to start the Haha Hehe Club. 

The club started with 19 members and has been growing steadily. The club now has 315 members, of which 40 to 50 attend the weekly half-hourly sessions regularly.

Madam Feliz said everyone can get into the spirit of laughter yoga as World Laughter Day, which falls on the first Sunday of May every year. "Laughter is an universal language."

Comments

Good Post

 

Laughing is a sort of medicines which relieves you from stress

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