Yoga? It’s all a bit of a laugh

B'Active'N'B'fit Laughter Yoga class at the Chase Community Centre, Sunderland East End.

B'Active'N'B'fit Laughter Yoga class at the Chase Community Centre, Sunderland East End.

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THEY’RE having a laugh – and it’s all part of a pioneering new form of exercise that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

B’Active N’Be Fit has launched Laughter Yoga and they’re hoping firms and community groups on Wearside will join the revolution.

With news of financial cuts and job losses, organisers say Yoga Laughter can help to release tension and help improve conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure as well as aches and pains.

Tracy Collins, operational manager at B’Active N’Be Fit, formerly Hendon-based Sit’N’B’Fit, said: “The feedback we have got is that there isn’t much laughter about at the minute, so this brings people together.

“It’s a form of exercise which helps with breathing.

“The exercises help to initiate laughter.

“Once people get over the initial experience and get used to it, they say they are getting a lot out of it.”

The brainchild of Dr Madan Kataria, the technique was first introduced in India in 1995.

There are now more than 6,000 clubs in 60 different countries.

Laughter Yoga sessions last for one hour and include a greeting warm up, laughter exercises, laughter meditation and a guided relaxation to end. They are currently running across the city.

Some sessions can also include gentle dancing.

As well as laughing, clapping chants and deep breathing techniques are often used.

Tracy added: “The reason we call it Laughter Yoga is because we combine laughter exercises with Yoga breathing and this brings more oxygen to your body and brain and makes you feel more healthy and re-energised.

“Even if you laugh for the sake of laughing your body doesn’t know the difference whether it is real or fake.

“You still get the same benefits as the jogging motion in your belly tells your brain you are laughing and releases the feel good chemical endorphins.

“We do laughter as a form of exercise in the beginning, but when we look at each other and have eye contact with other people, laughter becomes real and contagious.”

Tracy said that the programme is part of a more “holistic” approach to health and exercise.

“We have been doing this for a few months and it has really taken off.

“At first most people taking part feel a little bit weird but after 10 minutes they really seem to embrace it.”

@davidallison88