I learned from a very young age that if I wanted to feel better all I had to do was laugh. Even when I was younger, I understood the expression “laugh it off” and how important it was to let go. I never forgot this expression and lived by it through tough times as well as good ones.
The stressors of daily life – including the school environment – can stifle the natural stress-reducing reflex of laughter. But give children permission to laugh, especially within the usually serious academic environment, and there is a welcome relief of stress and tension that can produce dramatically positive results.
The many health benefits
Hearty laughter can improve bold circulation and oxygen supply to the brain and internal organs, rid the lungs of stale air, improve concentration and increase learning ability and academic performance.
Children will suffer fewer attacks of coughs, colds, throat and chest infections, as laughter helps to build good immunity against common infection. When children are put in the right conditions to laugh at school, their confidence is boosted, their ability to handle stress improves and bullying decreases. They develop a positive attitude, even in challenging times. This Laughter Yoga also stimulates their right brain hemisphere, enhancing their creative abilities.
Imagine what a short laughter session can do prior to a high-stakes exam, sports competition, or public speaking event!
Laughter Yoga also delivers an increased sense of connection and community, improved concentration and significant stress reduction for both children and their caregivers.
On two separate occasions Mountview Public School and St. Vincent de Paul School Day Care Program invited me to their literacy night to offer an interactive educational program for the Junior Kindergarteners to the 6th grade students.
The groups engaged in an all-out high impact exercise workout. Parents, students and staff shook hands and laughed. They gave each other laughing shocks, chortled with evil-sounding laughter, put pretend ice-cubes down each other’s backs, ran around like super heroes powered by laughter, behaved like they had toads in their pockets, sang with gibberish to a pretend orchestra and jumped around like giggling space aliens. The school gym rang out with many bursts of full-belly laughter.
One of the parents mentioned that Laughter Yoga should be part of the curriculum and a grade 6 student said he liked the relaxation meditation at the end because it gave him time to relax and have some quiet time. Other children responded by following me around like I was the Pied Piper of Laugh-a-Lot.
When children are put in the right conditions to laugh at school, their confidence is boosted, and their ability to handle stress can improve, thereby eliminating the amount of bullying. They develop a positive attitude, even in challenging times. Laughter Yoga also stimulates their right brain hemisphere, helps to relieve pain naturally, and enhances their creative abilities.
So the next time you witness the joy of laughter from a child, join in! •
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Kathryn Kimmins is a Holistic Professional, Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher (CLYT), who teaches Living Healthier Lifestyle Seminars through Laughter Yoga, Hamilton Grooves with Laughter Yoga Club, and of course The Pied Piper of Laugh-a-lot Program for Children www.laughyourselfhealthy.ca