Laughing yoga ‘a wonderful morale booster’

 

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Video – the bird laugh
* Photo gallery – more than 200 images

ELLERBE — Laughing yoga, it turns out, is not a spectator sport.

It’s rather difficult to not be pulled into the fray when the woman at the Ellerbe Senior Center get going — especially if Claire Donahue is nearby. The 81-year-old will pull anyone in if they’re too close to the circle.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Claire Donahue, left, and Beth Covington are heavily involved in Laughing Yoga.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Claire Donahue, left, and Beth Covington are heavily involved in Laughing Yoga.

Laughing yoga is a low-impact way to, well, start laughing. It uses breathing mechanics born from yoga but the primary goal is to get people laughing. Laughter lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormone levels and triggers the release of endorphins. It’s also a very good ab workout.

Seven women aged 50 and up took part in the third of four sessions Thursday afternoon at the Ellerbe Senior Center at Lions Club Park. They were led by Terry Mercer, guest instructor, and Judy Tyndall, center director. The two previously completed training on the India-based global effort to get people to socialize — an increasingly difficult goal to achieve — and laugh.

The trick is to get people to laugh without using humor. Tyndall said it’s not as difficult as it might sound.

“It’s contagious,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you have to fake it in the beginning.”

After the fourth session at the Ellerbe center at 1 p.m. on May 28, Laughing Yoga will travel to Hamlet Senior Center, with Tyndall and Hamlet Senior Center director Nikki Sewell, then East Rockingham.

The idea behind laughing yoga, Tyndall said, is to put “a pep in your step.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Terry Mercer, left, Jeannette Dumas, center, and Barb Parrish.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Terry Mercer, left, Jeannette Dumas, center, and Barb Parrish.

And it does just that whether participants are standing, seated or even sitting up while in bed. Each exercise can be tailored to fit an individual’s limitations. Mercer also led a class of five at The Hermitage rest home. At least one group member suffered from a bit of dementia, “but it was okay,” Mercer said, “’cause they can still laugh.”

Mercer said Laughing Yoga participants generally report sleeping better, but most of all it comes down to a time many forget.

“Children laugh all the time,” Mercer said. “We, as adults, as we’ve grown up, have forgotten how to play.”

Each session lasts between 45 and 60 minutes, though individuals can take a break as needed. Tyndall said instructors of senior groups keep an eye on each person. Each session includes a variety of scenarios or exercises, including the bird laugh, mental floss, the cellphone, crying laughter, shy laughter and more.

Along with stepping outside one’s comfort zone — prepare for your personal space to be violated by smiles — imagination is a key part. One group activity had Mercer start with a ball — an invisible one — and dribble, bounce and then pass it to another person in the group.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Daffy Holder and Sammi Poore remained seated throughout Thursday's session - and that's just fine.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Daffy Holder and Sammi Poore remained seated throughout Thursday’s session – and that’s just fine.

Dottie Headworth chose to spike it, was Donahue dribbled deftly around herself like a WNBA superstar.

“It doesn’t matter what you do with the ball,” Mercer said.

 

 

 

 

Filed in: Ellerbe/Norman, Featured News, Health, Latest Headlines

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