Laughter yoga in Abu Dhabi
Laughter Yoga is a thing. It’s a thing where a group of people sit around forcing themselves to laugh. The new craze is taking off around the world, and it’s now sweeping Abu Dhabi thanks to bubbly woman named Kathryn Armstrong. Ahead of the public class we’ve curiously signed up for this Sunday, July 5, we sat down with Kathryn to find out what we’ve let ourselves in for.
What is laughter yoga? Surely it’s not just people laughing on mats for an hour…?
The man who created it, Dr. Madan Kataria, his wife was a yoga teacher and the reason it’s called laughter yoga is because it is laughter with yoga breathing. The word yoga arises from the Sanskrit root 'yuj' which means to get hold of, integrate and harmonise. It means getting hold of our lives, integrating all aspects of life, harmonising our bodies with minds, spirits and society.
How did you discover it, and why have you decided to teach it?
I have Multiple Sclerosis and wanted an activity that wasn’t too strenuous. In my town back in Hartlepool, England, they had a laughter yoga course that my daughters and I took last summer. There is nothing like it in Abu Dhabi as everyone is very much into physical exercise. But sometimes in our stressful lives here we forget to laugh and be free from our day-to-day tasks.
What are the benefits?
It relieves stress tension and gives you an all-round good feeling. You’re laughing with strangers but you feel as if you have been laughing with your friends. It’s been scientifically proven that 10 to 15 minutes a day of laughter brings measureable physiological changes to oxygen levels in the blood, muscle relaxation, better blood circulation and it release certain feel-good hormones.
What can one expect from a typical laughter yoga session?
Class is typically a series of acted-out scenarios, everyday tasks that we all undertake but with a laughter twist. Around every three exercises we do a mantra “ho ho ha ha ha” with clapping, and we do breathing exercises in between too.
Apart from this Sunday's session, when next are you planning to hold a class, and where?
There will be more classes soon to accommodate mixed groups, as well as sessions held at night, but for the moment it will only be Sundays. It’s very new and I just need to find suitable locations that are accessible to everyone.
The 60-minute laughter yoga class is at 10:30am, La Rosy Beauty Spa & Fitness Centre in central Abu Dhabi. AED50 per person. Visit the Facebook page for more information.