They say that laughter is the best medicine and the group that gathered at the Bridge Community Centre recently certainly seemed to agree.
Joanna Toner has begun a ‘laughter yoga’ class in Lisburn on the first Friday of the month and it is proving popular with everyone takes part.
About a dozen people went to the first official class on February 5, although some people had the benefit of a sneak preview at a taster session before Christmas.
Margaret Mann, who was one of the participants who attended the taster sessions said she was looking forward to starting the classes again.
“I really enjoyed it and wanted to come back,” said Margaret. “We all need to laugh more and it is really infectious. The class definitely leaves you feeling good.”
Other people in the class were there for the first time and really didn’t know what to expect. Heather and Graham Gillen were first timers. “Someone gave us a flier and I thought it might be good as a team building exercise for work,” explained Heather.
The class began with some warm up exercises and everyone had to jump straight in and start laughing.
Throughout the hour long class Joanna helped things along with a number of exercises, including ‘riding a bike’, which proved to be very popular with the group.
“You hold your hands out as though you are gripping the handlebars of a bicycle,” explained Joanna to the class. “Your right hand is on the bell, which sounds like ‘ha ha ha’, and the left hand is on the horn, which sounds like ‘ho ho ho’.”
Everyone then started ‘riding’ their imaginary bike around the room, shouting ‘ha ha ha’ or ‘ho ho ho’ when Joanna said the word.
It may sound completely unnatural but there was something about making a fool of yourself and regressing to childish behaviour that everyone enjoyed.
The class ended with deep breathing and relaxation mindfulness exercises, helping everyone to wind down after an hour of laughter and silliness.
“It was very good,” said Heather after the class. “I suspect that I am not very good at laughing these days. Maybe I am too serious. We didn’t know what to expect and we didn’t know what was coming around the corner. I absolutely think we will be doing the class again and I think the next time we will get stuck into it even more.”