Healthy Mondays hosts laughter yoga

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Molly O’Connor/Winonan

Healthy Mondays at the Integrated Wellness Complex have arrived yet again for a new semester, allowing students to gain perspective on living a healthier lifestyle as a new year begins.

With new classes comes new stresses, and the Integrated Wellness Complex’s goal to help relieve students of angst and fatigue has returned in full swing. The first Healthy Monday of the new semester, held on Jan. 25, demonstrated a unique technique on how to unwind at the end of a stressful day: laughter yoga.

“Don’t be afraid to act silly, since it works better if you are,” instructor Erica Thibodeaux said at the start of a new lesson of laughter yoga.

As a handful of students sat in a circle, they read over the benefits of laughing and having a sense of humor and what laughter yoga implies.

“Some places of employment start with 10 minutes of laughing exercises each day to improve work skills,” Thibodeaux.

The whole point of laughter yoga is to experience what benefits laughter had upon the human brain, for there is no distinction between real laughter and fake laughter, according to research.

Although laughter yoga has been in existence for over 18 years, it is a fairly new experience in the United States, arising in society about seven years ago. The increasing popularity of laughter exercises has proven to be beneficial when improving the health of the human body.

Laughing has been shown to enhance immune system functions, increase respiratory activity and oxygen exchange, reduces blood pressure, as well as releasing endorphins (a natural pain relief).

To experience the effects of humor, Thibodeaux had the students read off of a list demonstrating various laughing exercises to get into the flow of laughter yoga.

One of the activities performed was called Elevator Laughter.

The idea behind this exercise was to have the students stand close together and pretend they were standing awkwardly in an elevator as they laughed at the situation.

Another example of laughter exercises was Bird Laughter, where the students wandered through the open space as though they were a laughing penguin.

Thibodeaux concluded with a small circle to ask how the students’ moods had changed since the start of the lesson all the way to the end.

When comparing and contrasting the start of the class to the end, the general consensus had been that the students were less exhausted, more alert and overall in a better mood than when they first walked through the door to the lesson.

Humor improves the state of mind, breaking stress and energizing those who take it in everyday. Thibodeaux stressed the importance of these exercise activities everyday and how valuable it can be for students.

“We try to encourage professors to make it an assignment option for students to attend and enjoy,” Thibodeaux said just as the activity was winding down, “It’s a free, fun, and open resource to all students.”

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