Photos: Roni Sela
Left: On the ball - Boris Gruzenski and Matan Sharabi having fun
Right: Volunteer Shifra Newman enjoying Laugh Yoga
Recently we were happy to welcome Zehava Marom at the Kfar Shmaryahu group of young people with handicaps. She came to tell us about Laughter Yoga, an exercise routine that combines yoga and laughter. She has been active in the field for the last 25 years.
Zehava explained that while yoga betters the body’s flexibility and movements and therefore improves quality of life, and while laughter is healthy because it releases tension, the combination of the two is a complete well-being workout. When laughing the brain cells release endorphins which help change your mood and make you cheerful. A big smile on your face will reduce anxiety, deep laughter will replace bad feelings with good ones. According to Zehava, one minute’s laughter is equivalent to a ten-minute bicycle ride in aerobic terms. Laughter, by bringing more oxygen to the body and brain, makes one feel relaxed and energetic.
Anyone can laugh for no reason without necessarily relying on humor, jokes or comedy. Zehava therefore started the session by asking the participants to introduce themselves while we all clapped and sang ‘Ho Ho, Ha Ha Ha’ with a wide open mouth so that everyone could laugh and thus release all the stresses of the day.
We breathed deeply while holding in our stomachs and keeping our bodies straight, imagining that the top of our heads were connected directly to the ceiling and that our bodies were trees with deep roots in the ground.
In addition, Zehava distributed balls so that the participants, even those with little mobility in their hands, could stretch while pressing on the ball, all this accompanied by appropriate lively music. We stretched our fingers while clapping, made kissing movements in the air with our lips, stuck our tongues out, rubbed our hands to warm them and then placed them on our eyes and ears, all this so that our brains would receive positive stimulation.
Despite the fact that a member of the group had recently died and many members who were his friends were particularly sad about it, and despite the physical difficulties which are part of the daily lives of the participants, all group members took an active part in the activities while being assisted by the volunteers in movements that they had difficulty doing alone, and all returned home at the end of the evening feeling relaxed and cheerful.