Connie Costa, 32, Coogee, NSW
The chuckles started out small, but soon the group broke into belly laughs. Men and women of all ages were joining in, clutching their sides and wiping tears of happiness from their eyes.
It must have looked quite strange to people passing the studio. But I was used to it. You see, I’m a laughter yoga facilitator.
I first discovered the unconventional exercise three years ago when I suffered a knee injury. Told I’d recover within eight weeks, the pain dragged on for over a year. Eventually, I noticed my pain levels were higher when I was feeling stressed.
Reading up on the effects of stress, I knew I had to combat the problem. Then, I came across laughter yoga. It combines unconditional laughter with yogic breathing.
The idea is to find a way to giggle for no reason, as it stimulates endorphins and relieves stress. When I found a group nearby, I knew I had to go. At first I wasn’t sure whether I would enjoy it.
Could I really let go in a room full of strangers?
But as the instructor led us through the breathing and mindfulness exercises, I found myself laughing uncontrollably. I was hooked. I’d never felt happier and my pain levels improved dramatically.
So after a few months of classes, I started training to become an instructor myself. Now I run my business, Laugh and Live Well, in Bondi, NSW, and work with Laughter Yoga Australia.
People from all walks of life heal their problems through happiness! Our group has included people with posttraumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and anxiety.
I think we could all use a little bit more silly, simple joy in our lives. We’re definitely having the last laugh!
Originally published in that's life! Issue 38, 2016.