Best to live lightly, unthinkingly.Sophocles
In my house I have put together a collection of small and large toys that I can’t live without. The child who doesn’t play is not a child, but the man who doesn’t play has lost forever the child who lived in him and he will certainly miss him. I have also built my house like a toyhouse and I play in it from morning til night.Pablo Neruda
He is always right who suspects that he make mistakes.Spanish Proverb
To hold, you must first open your hand. Let go.Tao Te Ching
The true object of all human life is play.G.K. Chesterton
Our whole life is an attempt to discover when our spontaneity is whimsical, sentimental irresponsibility and when it is a valid expression of our deepest desires and values.Helen Merrell Lynd
Happiness lies in the fulfillment of the spirit through the body.Cyril Connolly
To live exhilaratingly in and for the moment is deadly serious work, fun of the most exhausting sort.Barbara Grizzuti Harrison
A joy that’s shared is a joy made double.English Proverb
I love myself when I am laughing.Nora Neale Hurston
Laughter Yoga is an unique concept created in 1995 by family practice physician Madan Kataria, while he was researching an article on the health benefits of laughter. Laughter Yoga is based on the practice of unconditional laughter—that is, laughter without jokes, humor, or comedy.
In Laughter Yoga sessions, we initiate laughter in a group, as exercise. Encouraged to use child like playfulness, our laughter quickly becomes spontaneous, mirthful, and contagious. As traditional yoga practitioners, Dr. Kataria and his wife Madhri Kataria named it “Yoga” because Yogic, or deep breathing, is incorporated into the laughter session, which brings more oxygen to the body and brain. Scientific evidence suggests that the body cannot tell the difference between “fake” or simulated laughter and spontaneous laughter. We derive psychological and physiological benefits from both.
In Laughter Yoga sessions, we clap, laugh, and breathe, and make good eye contact with members of the group. This promotes a playful spirit, since it’s difficult to look into the eyes of another who is laughing and not laugh! Since newcomers or particularly shy folks in the group may often feel inhibited about this process, laughter leaders encourage participants to “fake it until you make it”. Even if you find the session a bit out of the box for you, you will still gain benefits, and be in the midst of friendly people. There are approximately sixteen thousand Laughter Clubs in 72 countries.
Our laughter sessions are different each time. We vary exercises, themes, create new ones, dance to world drumming, and practice various other relaxation methods such as humming, different breathing methods, guided imagery, and silent meditation. Sometimes we even sing songs Laughter Yoga style. It’s about the breath, fun, creativity, social connection, relaxation, and movement. One of our regular laughter club participants reports she laughs or smiles just thinking about coming to laugh. I know the feeling!
Laughter Yoga is appropriate and adaptable for all ages, physical abilities, and settings. Corporations, schools, universities, prisons, churches, hospitals, and park-goers around the world enjoy the practice.
It gets you moving and engaged in a joyful social activity. Most importantly, you do not need a sense of humor to practice Laughter Yoga. All it takes is a willingness to laugh, an open mind, and courage to try a new, heart-centered activity that you just may enjoy immensely. As we say in laughter sessions, “Trust the laughter”!
According to the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, “Studies show that between 60% and 90% of all physician visits are for stress-related complaints”. Hearty laughter promotes full exhalation and deep breathing, rather than shallow breathing we use when stressed.
MS, PMHCNS-BC, ACC, CIHC, CLYT, RYT-200
I am an Associate Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation, founder of Estelle Brodeur, LLC, and a Certified Integrative Health Coach. I'm also a Registered Yoga Teacher, teaching Hatha and Yin Yoga. I became a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher in 2011 from Madan Kataria, MD. My passion is helping others create health and joy.
Learn what brought me to Laughter Yoga.
I was drawn to Laughter Yoga in 2011 during a personal quest to find new stress management techniques. I loved the playfulness of the laughter games and I liked the idea of not leaving laughter to chance. What I didn't expect was the deep connections I have made with other people who come together to laugh and play in Laughter Yoga, and my own personal growth through the practice of laughter.
I became certified as a Laughter Yoga leader in the Fall of 2011 and started using Laughter Yoga as part of my social work practice with older adults. I continue to be humbled by the honor I feel when sharing intimate moments of laughter with my clients. Laughter Yoga has taught me a new way to connect deeply with myself; yet, I still find it so refreshing that I don't always have to feel like laughing, and there's a laughter game for that too!
MS, CMT, CLYL
I am an integrative wellness practitioner using laughter, therapeutic touch, movement and other mind/body techniques at Fertile Ground Massage, llc. Opening myself to laughter as exercise is one of the top five wellness practices I have undertaken. Laughter has simply made my life more fun, positive, and healthy! Contact me by visiting www.fertilegroundmassage.com where you will find schedule FREE Laughter Yoga Club of Midlothian monthly events, unique playshops, and information on why Laughter Yoga may be tailored to bring out the health, productivity, creativity, and connection in you or your organization.
Since my early twenties, I’ve been interested in holistic, or complementary approaches to health, as well as evidence-based health practices. My professional background is in coaching, counseling, nursing, and wellness education. I am particularly drawn to mind-body practices that involve movement and promote a calm mind. I attended my first Laughter Yoga session in February 2011 with Leigh Meredith of YogaLaughs, because I was curious, had heard about the concept for several years, and the activity sounded playful…play is something I had committed to practice more. I realized after the laughter session that not only did I experience complete relaxation, but that my mind was clear, rested, and smiling. I became a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader (CLYL) in May of 2011, and in November of the same year completed Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher (CLYT) training with Dr. Kataria with 25 other professionals of all ages and backgrounds from Canada, the US, and Mexico.
What do you expect to see when you walk in the front door of a retirement community? Lovely surroundings, silver-haired people in comfortable chairs engaged in conversation or reading? Maybe there is some soft music from the Big Band era playing in the background. This is true very often, but not at St. Mary’s Woods on Tuesday afternoons. Even before you open the front door, you will hear a loud sound that makes you smile. Those comfortable chairs are occupied by us, average age 84, laughing long and loud like we did when we were kids many decades ago. As Estelle leads us through the laughter games and exercises, we let go of the aches and pains and sadness that can accompany aging. We are playful again because of Estelle’s encouragement. Our breathing deepens and the knees don’t seem to ache as much. Some of us make up silly names for the laughter yoga introductions; we’ve even invented some laughter games on our own (chicken wings!). Some of us (no names mentioned, Bud) have a reputation for being grouchy, but not on Tuesday afternoons. We love to watch the surprised looks on the faces of visitors when they see and hear us carrying on. Staff members will even stop and laugh with us. No one who passes us during Laughter Yoga is able to keep from laughing themselves. Take it from us: you are NEVER too old to play.
Barbara, Betty, Carol, Margaret, Mickey, Nan and Bud
“I had previously participated in a laughter session with Estelle and I invited her to conduct a laughter session at a monthly ALS Support Group. I wanted to bring something new to the patients that would improve both their emotional well-being and physical health. What fun we had and not only did the patients enjoy this laughter session, the staff from the VCU Medical Center ALS clinic did as well! It was great for the patients, their caregivers, and staff to be playful and full of joy. Thank you for providing ALS patients and their families with a truly wonderful gift as they continue to fight this disease.–Hattie Figgers, MSW VCU Medical Center
University students’ Before and After laughter session comments
“Feeling pretty good right now” to… “Noticing my breathing and mental relaxation”
“Slight headache” to… “Feel relaxed and like I had a light cardio workout. Head feels better”
“Lack of muscle relaxation is in part due to shoulder tension. Stress and discomfort in group settings.” To…drawing of a sun and heart
“I am excited for this activity but very sore and tired” to… “My mind feels relaxed and clearer. I feel more ready for the day”
“Slept well, feel pretty good. Always stressed about school these days” to… “As much relaxed as energized. Balanced”
“I am tired, but ready for my day to start!” to… “I feel very relaxed and focused. My muscles feel relaxed”
“Went on a run this morning and did not sleep well last night. Pretty tired overall.” to… “Very much enjoyed! Laughing helped me to relax and wake up!”
“The laughing yoga was such a great activity for social work month! I started as a skeptic and left a believer in the therapeutic benefits of laughing yoga. It was a fun and interesting way to interact with co-workers and by the end of the session I felt relaxed, centered, and couldn’t help but laugh. I had such a great experience and will be partaking in laughing yoga again!”
“I thoroughly enjoyed Estelle Brodeur and her team’s approach in presenting laughter yoga to our social work staff at McGuire Medical Center for 2014 Social Work Month. Not only did I enjoy every minute of the session, I was able to forget about all the stress from the work day and truly be in the moment. I left refreshed and thinking positively. I strongly recommend that everyone try laughing yoga at some point in their lives”.
note from Estelle–our team was wonderful Certified Laughter Yoga Leader Heather Umberger and her fabulous mom and laughter blaster, Bonnie
“The Laughter Yoga program at the library was a delight. Instructors Estelle Brodeur and Andrew Davis were inviting and responsive, making sure each person felt welcome to laugh in their own way. By the end of the session, it felt as though we had run several miles, but we were calm as though we had just spent the afternoon on the beach. It was great to be playful and joyful as a group. And it’s easy to see the benefits of Laughter Yoga once you have experienced it yourself.”—public librarian comments on Teen Laughter Yoga session
Comments from Certified Laughter Yoga Leader Training and Retreat, August 2013
“As an art teacher, I’ve felt more positive in dealing with my students. I feel that I can empathize, or see through my students’ eyes in teaching art and working on art activities with my students. I now take time to laugh with my students that takes away some of the fear that can be experienced when being creative in the arts and life”. —Andrew Davis
“This weekend has deepened my sense of self and expanded my personal practice of laughter and love for self and others. I highly recommend CLYL training to anyone who is curious about LY and how to incorporate a laughter practice that complements a healthy lifestyle. I’ve many great memories and met such good people with whom I can play!”—Sarah Broughton
“With this training, I am hoping to open laughter club in my community and also in workplace. I was able to learn more about the laughing yoga exercises, the benefits it has provided to others. I like and respect everyone participated in this training. In my workplace I approach my co-workers with a smile and if possible laugh with them. It reduces the stress for me and the other party as well.” —Sindhu J Manuvalil
“Skills learned from CLYL training; history behind Dr. Kataria’s research for Laughter Yoga, how to lead LY depending on the situation such as corporate vs seniors, etc, and creativity in new LY games. Hope to bring more peace and happiness to others as well as sharing the health benefits of LY”.—Valerie Pace
“Your presentation and practice of laughter yoga was a wonderful demonstration of a method of how we can integrate fun into exercise. Clearly we were breathing more deeply and focused on the here and now. I think that sometimes we are so caught up in the serious, professional world that we forget to really laugh and enjoy that activity. Thank you for sharing your joy!”—Mary Shall, PT, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Physical Therapy, Virginia Commonwealth University, after Laughter Yoga session with 3rd year Physical Therapy Students
“Thank you for being so open to Laughing with our residents! They loved the unique approach to ‘relaxing’. Several are still chanting very good, very good, yay! One of our ladies commented ‘that was great, took me out of myself and I feel energized and without sweating’!”—LuAnn Paul, Executive Director, Elmcroft of Chesterfield Assisted Living
“The day was long. The topic was cancer. The 160 conference participants were patients and their caregivers. Late in the afternoon, Estelle and Jim took the stage and transformed the room into hilarity. We laughed until we cried! For just a little while, we were able to forget why we were there. But the longer lasting benefit was that we now had a new strategy for coping with the journey of cancer.”
“I had the pleasure of working with Estelle and Jim Brodeur to present a short segment on laughter yoga at The Victory Summit in Richmond in May 2012, a one-day educational event for people with Parkinson’s disease and their families. Our Foundation produces these events around the country and while I’ve had the privilege of working with several different presenters, Estelle has been one of my favorites. Not only is she prompt with deadlines and thorough with details, she is a dynamic presenter able to truly connect with a diverse audience. As some of the first presenters in our program, she and Jim were able to engage with the crowd of over 500 individuals of all ages and stages of the disease, not an easy feat. They had everyone not just laughing, but really participating along with them in each exercise. Their upbeat attitude and balanced combination of exercises and background information about laughter yoga was a perfect way to begin our day of education and inspiration.”
I’d love to bring a laughter session, retreat, or workshop to you. Call me for fees. I negotiate pricing and also do certain laughter events free of charge.