Jan 24, 2023

Why Laughing Yoga Is Gaining Popularity in Senior Services

If you work with seniors, you may have heard of laughing yoga. Also called laughter yoga or hasyayoga, this exercise centers around laughter and proponents say it can reduce stress and support good health. For senior centers looking for an easy and enjoyable exercise, laughter yoga might be a good option to try.

The Concept Behind Laughter Yoga

Laughter Yoga International says that an Indian physician named Dr. Madan Kataria developed laughter yoga, and the exercise is now used in more than 110 countries. Laughter yoga involves both laughing and breathing techniques, but there are no jokes to trigger laughter.

The American Lung Association says that laughter can improve a person’s mood, decrease stress and keep depression at bay. Laughter causes a person’s heart rate and blood pressure to increase and then decrease, and this leads to relaxation. Laughing can also release endorphins and enkephalins and may act as a natural pain reliever. On top of all of that, laughter is a good workout for a person’s cardiovascular, pulmonary and respiratory systems.

Fighting Depression and Loneliness

You smile when you feel happy, but will you feel happy if you smile? Possibly. According to Science Daily, researchers from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville found that smiling actually can make people happier.

Loneliness and depression are serious problems for seniors. The National Institute on Aging says that social isolation and loneliness have been linked to a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline, and death.

For the people who provide services to seniors, fighting loneliness should be a priority. This will no doubt require a multi-pronged approach that is continually adjusted based on the needs of the individual seniors as well as new research and insights that become available.

Laughter yoga may be part of the solution. When seniors laugh, they may enjoy positive health impacts. When they laugh together, they may also benefit from socialization and connection.

Getting Started with Laughter Yoga

If you want to bring laughter yoga to your senior center, it’s not hard to get started.

According to Healthline, laughing yoga usually occurs in a group setting with a trained instructor who leads the class through exercises. A session may start with breathing techniques, clapping or chanting, and the session may also include positive affirmations, gentle stretching, yoga breathing exercises, and meditation.

Laughter yoga has been rising in popularity, so you can look for a laughter yoga teacher who can come to your senior facility and lead a class. Laughter Yoga International offers online classes, and you can also find plenty of laughter yoga videos on YouTube, including this video of 100 laughter yoga exercises by Dr. Madan Kataria. Laughter Yoga International also offers a free online international laughter club via Zoom. Sessions happen every day, but note that the time given is for the India Time zone.

Laughter yoga is a relatively safe form of exercise, but some of the playful movements and exercises may be difficult or dangerous for older adults with certain health problems. Always make safety a priority and consider whether the exercises are appropriate for the seniors at your facility.

World Laughter Day

World Laughter Day is celebrated every year on the first Sunday in May. In 2023, it lands on May 7. If you want to give laughter yoga a try and see whether it might be popular at your senior facility, this would be a great time to hold a laughter yoga session. If the event is popular, you can consider making laughter yoga a regular event at your facility.

Of course, you don’t have to wait until May to start laughing. You can get started anytime. The idea of laughing for no reason can seem silly, and the videos can look silly, but many people say they have benefited from the exercise tremendously, and the science seems to back up the claim that there are real benefits to mental and physical health.

For adult residential care facilities, programs like laughter yoga can help keep residents happy and healthy. Insurance programs can help keep your risks under control. Tangram provides insurance for adult residential care facilities through the Personal Care & Assisted Living Insurance Center (PCALIC). Assisted living homes and other residential care facilities can access insurance programs that are designed to meet their coverage needs, so you can keep focusing on how to support your residents. Learn more.