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Laughter Yoga club comes to Cardiff

Laughter Yoga is the rapidly growing technique said to instill numerous health benefits in its practitioners – and a small group of people are practicing it in Cardiff.

Is laughter the best medicine? Photo Courtesy of Maria Aguirregomozcorta-Gil

Two years ago Dr Maria Aguirregomozcorta-Gil, a neurologist originally from Spain, decided to attend a training weekend for a practice known as ‘laughter yoga’, an art which encourages its followers simply to laugh every day in order to reap major physical and mental benefits.

The brain child of Dr Madan Kataria, the practice originated in Mumbai in 1995, and is based on the idea that the brain cannot tell the difference between real and fake laughter. The classes aim to give the gift of giggles and help participants to laugh more easily in their lives, using a mix of eye contact, movement, playful behaviour and more.

After practicing at home, Dr Maria, 38, decided to set up a class at Cardiff’s Llandaff North Community Centre and share the benefits she was experiencing with others.

“In class we don’t rely on jokes, sense of humour, or comedy,” she said. “It’s a way to master our own laughter, in order to be able to laugh at will [and] to get the full range of benefits that laughter has.”

There are now ‘laughter clubs’ in over 100 countries worldwide and it continues to spread, with its members claiming such health benefits as reduced stress levels, lowered blood pressure and even a higher pain threshold.

Some studies claim that laughing can boost the immune system, aid digestion, help concentration and even act as a natural painkiller; something which Dr Maria says she recently experienced first-hand when breaking her foot earlier this year.

If you’re thinking of trying Laughter Yoga, Dr Maria has this advice; “Try it at least two or three times, because the first time it can feel slightly weird.”

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