RYAN BAKKEN: Laughter yoga class shows it's good medicine and workoutWe know that laughter is the best medicine. We also know that laughter is contagious. And now, some locals are learning that laughter also is a good workout. It’s called laughter yoga, taught by Sue Thompson, an East Grand Forks native who has returned to her original stomping grounds to spread the gospel of its benefits.
By: Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald
We know that laughter is the best medicine. We also know that laughter is contagious.
And now, some locals are learning that laughter also is a good workout.
It’s called laughter yoga, taught by Sue Thompson, an East Grand Forks native who has returned to her original stomping grounds to spread the gospel of its benefits. As someone who owns a cackling laugh and doesn’t carry the shyness gene, she’s an ideal instructor.
In laughter yoga, you aren’t required to assume the downward facing dog position or other contortionist acts. You aren’t required to learn Hindu. You don’t hum.
What you do is laugh. A lot.
In Grand Forks Community Education first laughter yoga class Thursday evening, eight brave women laughed for roughly 20 minutes of the 30-minute session. Not giggled. Not chuckled. Not snickered.
No, it was knee-slapping, red-in-the-face, tears-in-the-eyes, America’s Funniest Home Videos laughter for one-minute stretches. As they went through their paces in the gym, a man walking past peeked in the door, a quizzical look on his face, no doubt wondering what could possibly have prompted the uproar in this heavily Scandinavian precinct.
At first, the laughter was forced. Then, because of the absurdity of it all — and the contagion — it became more natural. The silliness of pretending to be hula-hooping and milking a cow also contributed to genuine laughter
Thompson admits that the only parallel to regular yoga is the breathing technique.
“Laughter is not a cure, but it has well-documented benefits,” she said. “Laughter feels good and brings peace and joy.”
In addition to the peace, joy and silliness benefits, laughter yoga also is a cardio workout. According to its literature, 10 minutes of hearty laughter is equal to 30 minutes jogging or on a rowing machine.
Other benefits claimed include stress reduction, oxygen supply increases and mood changes. And, while happiness creates laughter, laughter also creates happiness. It’s all about the endorphins.
Student Michelle Moen said she is participating because laughter yoga might be useful in her work as an occupational therapist. She’s also interested because “it’s a different way to relieve stress and tone core muscles.”
Plus, it’s a hoot.
Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send email to email@example.com.