Saskatchewan Seniors find Relief through Laughter Yoga

Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be. Whitney HoustonThe Greatest Love of All.

Laughing is a great way to feel a sense of joy and wellbeing. It releases, at least momentarily, pent-up tensions and frustrations. A belly laugh coupled with a surprise smile takes the edge off the seriousness of life and lets us become who we really are; people enjoying life in the moment, like children.

A new therapy used universally, including retirement living settings, is laughter yoga. It was created by Dr. Madan Kataria from Mumbai, India, who synthesized a series of exercises blending unconditional laughter with yoga breathing. The resulting laughter is physical in nature, and is not necessarily tied to humour.

Residents from Victoria Park Personal Care, in the Canadian prairie city of Regina, SK, were led through a laughter yoga class with Jan Shearer, a retired local nurse. Residents from their early 70s to mid 90s were guided by Shearer to feel like kids again.

A fun atmosphere was set with colourful puppets, playful animals, and novelty balls handed out to the circle of about 20 seniors.

“Laughter is good medicine for the soul,” Shearer told The Leader Post with a smile. “It’s incredible … It stimulates joy.” She added: “It’s not a miracle. It’s a tool.”

She continued: “No matter how young you are or how old you are, everybody can laugh … Laughter transcends race, age, abilities,” Shearer told the media source. “It’s a gift you can give anybody, anytime. And it doesn’t cost anything.”

The participants agreed. For instance, 84-year-old Margaret Schneider told the Leader Post, after class: “It’s a very good way to exercise. It makes you feel good.”

Seventy-two-year-old Sharon Borreson concurred. “I enjoy laughing. The whole program made you laugh and made you relax … I would do it again.”

Laughter cures what ails ya.