Why Elderly Caregivers Should Volunteer for Laughing Yoga for Seniors
Have you been looking for a rewarding and satisfying way of giving back to your community? What better way to find meaningful volunteer service than to bring the gift of mirth to the elderly? Laughter yoga is an inspiring practice that carries extensive benefits for those who have progressed in years and the very young alike. For those who are living in a nursing home, elderly community or assisted living situation, laughing yoga is the perfect addition to life at a slower pace.
The Basics of Laughing Yoga
Taking the time to volunteer to lead seniors in a relaxing session of laughing yoga is not only very healthy but fun and stress relieving for all involved. The basic idea is to encourage bouts of voluntary or spontaneous laughter in a group setting. There is typically a facilitator involved to instigate laughing exercises through clapping, waving arms in the air, laughing in unison, laughing on cue and paying special attention to breathing as well.
Laughing yoga focuses on the many positive mental and spiritually uplifting facets of the broad topic that is yoga as opposed to conventional yoga which involves more poses and techniques.
Why Laughing Yoga Works
As an expert or kindergarten student could tell you, laughter is very contagious. Studies have illustrated how the sound of laughter affects others to begin laughing as well. The effects are stronger than even hearing a funny joke or watching a comedy show. Whether it is a round of hearty belly laughing or even just a relaxing set of chuckles, cackling and giggling, laughter is good for the souls and inspires others to join in.
7 Benefits Laughter Yoga can Provide
The regular practice of laughter yoga can have greater benefits than you may originally assume. Studies have found that all types of positive expression even forced smiles and laughter can have a powerful effect on the functions of the mind and body.
- Releases endorphins that improve the mood, boost energy levels and affect emotional well-being.
- Relaxes stressful condition
- Increases the capacity for short term memory
- Reduces feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression
- Builds confidence and trust between attendees
- Improves the heart rate and flow of blood
- Promotes better relationships and friendships
Create your own Recipe for Fun and Laughter
There is no specific structure to a laughing yoga session so you are ultimately free to take some creative licenses and experiment. Most of the experience will be observing the dynamics of the class and modifying your programs for maximum efficacy, in this case, abundant laughter… The more you practice and put into your program, the more options you will have to get the group flowing and participating.
Begin by sitting in a circle. There are no rules but this brings a sense of unity to the yoga session.
Be sure to practice deep breathing as this will stimulate the lungs and prepare the body for a good hearty laugh.
Try chanting. Chanting a positive and liberating mantra-like “Be happy, Be free” helps set the pace for the activity ahead. This also sets the mind in a positive place more conducive to laughing. Those who may be suffering from dementia will especially benefit from this as they will be following your words and tone closely.
Begin practicing several laughs like deep bellowing “ho ho ho” to softer chuckles and other variations that may be better suited to the group you are in, play around here and find what works.
Keep the tone simple and playful. Be sure to infuse the practice with plenty of childlike playfulness by throwing body language and facial expression into your laughing, raising your arms in the air is also a relieving action.
The perfect session is achieved when the group has spent a total of 10 to 15 minutes laughing. According to the philosophies that govern the practice, this is the amount of time needed each day to reap the full benefits of laughter.
The Final Takeaway. Make sure everything is kept fun and upbeat, Even if not everyone is laughing for a full 10 minutes, the very act of laughing is so healthy in itself. Even those who are just sitting and observing are benefitting greatly from the positive energies and stimulation through sight and sound. Perhaps next time they will join in.