Laughter is the best medicine: NJ couple teach ‘laughter yoga’ to help people de-stress
A New Jersey couple is helping to make people more relaxed by conducting so-called “laughing yoga” lessons.
It is a form of therapy that was developed in the mid-1990s by a doctor in India. It is based on the theory that, like deep breathing and meditation, laughter can rewire the brain, even if that laughter is forced. The theory is that laughter can spark joy and release anti-stress chemicals into the brain.
The virtual classes are led by Lauren and Alik Colbert of Trenton. They are certified laugh yoga instructors who go by the nickname the Laughing Love Bugs.
“There’s no wrong way to laugh. And the only reason why we feel uncomfortable is because we typically wait for something to be funny,” says Lauren Colbert. “But we want to encourage people to laugh in their daily lives because it feels good to feel good and laughter is good for you.”
The classes are 30 minutes of various laughter and deep-breathing exercises. There are about a dozen people participating in the Zoom class who come from places like Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, London and Indonesia.
The couple said that they were skeptical at first about the practice, but saw how it improved their lives.
“I sarcastically laughed in my first session,” says Alik Colbert.
Lauren was a stressed-out social worker and Alik was a laid off union carpenter. They became hooked and say that they hope to help others.
“We typically are always in our heads. We’re in our minds. And what laughter yoga does, it gives your brain exercise,” says Lauren. “The left side is logical, analytical, judgmental and we’re always on that side. The right side of the brain needs exercise.”
Four years into it, they're determined to bring the benefits of laughter - something that's been in far too short supply over the past year - to as many people as possible.