You may know the old adage: Laughter is the best medicine! However, did you know that SWIHA has an entire club dedicated to it?
The SWIHA Ha Ha Laughter Club allows acting like a kid again and regaining a child's sense of fun and playfulness! Dr. Madan Kataria, the founder of Laughter Yoga, calls it "Kindergarten for adults". We spoke with Laurie Nathanson, a Laughter Leader for the club since 2012, who gave some great insight on what the club is about (Hint: a lot of laughs!)
Where did the idea for the SWIHA Ha Ha Laughter Club come from?
After Linda Scharf did a short laughter session as part of a Gifts and Graces event, SWIHA offered her a room for our SWIHA HA Laugh Club on the 2nd Friday of every month, beginning in May of 2009. I [Laurie Nathanson] joined in and offered it on the 4th Fridays beginning in 2012.
Certified Laughter Leaders Linda Scharf and myself are the main facilitators. River Moyer, Irene Ludquist and Joan Pearlman also help. River and Irene became laughter leaders after attending the laughter club! Linda also graduated from one of the first SWIHA Life Coaching programs offered in the summer of 2006 and River has taken a variety of classes at SWIHA.
Why should someone attend a Laughter Club meeting?
Laughter acts as mind, body, spirit medicine. There are a great many physical benefits to laughing, including boosting the immune system, lowering blood pressure, improving respiration and circulation, and lowering the stress hormone cortisol. Laughter is a great stress reliever, and can help increase one's memory and learning ability. Best of all, Laughter Club is a great way to connect with others and make new friends. It provides a support system of non-judgmental and positive people who want to create a healthier lifestyle. We offer that in the most holistic way… laughing!
What can someone expect when attending a Laughter Club meeting?
We laugh for no reason, and may do silly exercises like laughing while pretending to talk on cellphones or walk like penguins. The idea is to act like a kid again and regain a child's sense of fun and playfulness! In between laughs, we do some simple stretching and breathing exercises to further relax. We also discuss the Principles of GoodHearted Living (compliments, flexibility, gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, and chocolate). The practice of which helps us to overcome negativity and make more room for laughter in our lives.
What kinds of people attend a Laughter Club meeting?
We have had parents bring a month-old baby and a daughter bring her 100-year-old father. One of our regular participants is 87 years old. We also have students who come to us from ASU and quite a few attendees of all ages who find us through MeetUp. We had a service dog attend our last meeting!
One 2nd Friday evening, about 100 ASU freshmen showed up, unannounced, to Laughter Club. That was quite a crowd compared to our usual group of 15-25! It's always fun to see the reactions of newcomers who don't know what to expect, but who are ready and willing to take part in something new and different.
How do you join the Laughter Club?
You don't need a yoga mat or any special equipment to participate in Laughter Club. Just dress comfortably, bring some water, and come with an open mind. Get ready to find your inner child and laugh off the ridiculousness - and seriousness - of life!