Patty Freier, nursing specialist & Laughter Yoga leader, Lubbock, USA: My interest in laughter therapy began when a physician said that all heart attacks are preventable. In setting up his practice, one of the many things he wanted to create was a laughter workshop. As I began to search more literature, I discovered many references to Laughter Yoga but I did not understand what it was. When I found the video clips on YouTube from news stories, I was intrigued by what I saw. I began to dabble in the technique, and really practiced it when I obtained Dr. Kataria’s DVD on 40 Foundational Exercises for Laughter Yoga leaders. I was incorporating some of the techniques in my teaching activities for about a year before the club was formed.
About the same time, Carla Brown was looking for Laughter Yoga in Lubbock after moving here from California. She found my name during a Google search and contacted me. Together we started the Covenant Laughter Club in order to make a difference in people’s lives here in Lubbock. The following year in July of 2010, we had another leader training which gave us an even broader experience and understanding. After having been through two trainings, Carla was able to work with Dr. Kataria in Albuquerque to become a trainer. Our goal was to bring Laughter Yoga to Lubbock and build healthy communities.
It has taken a long time for people to realize that this is a valid therapy, and not just a silly idea that was fun for the moment. But now I believe we are making headway. Personally, I seem to have reached that critical mass where more people recognize me as “the laughter lady” than as a nurse. Our club has definitely helped people but I find that “special order” sessions are where we make the biggest impact.
Covenant Medical Center is an Accredited Cycle III Chest Pain Center and I was able to submit Laughter Yoga as an innovation for community outreach. Laughter Yoga is what gets me in the door. Once I am invited in, I can teach people about causes of cardiovascular disease, signs of a heart attack and stroke, and why they should call 911. Then I teach them a tool to help them relieve stress and control their blood pressure - Very good, very good, Yay!
I have found that Laughter Yoga applies to just about any situation in life. My father has Alzheimer’s and I use Laughter Yoga extensively with my parents. Besides, it helps with Parkinson’s, Lupus, Cystic Fibrosis, family counseling, fighting depression, etc. I recently gave an idea to a nurse who was working on her dissertation on how to use Laughter Yoga for blood pressure control.
I find that I am getting increased calls from nursing groups now and I am thrilled to see that. It shows that more nurses are beginning to see the value of this therapy in their practice. Next March (2012) I have been asked to do Laughter Yoga at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center for the beginning of the Distinguished Speaker Series sponsored by American State Bank, Lubbock Christian University, and Covenant Health System. There will be hundreds of nurses and nursing students there.
The comments we get from people relate to the change in mood, relief of pain, improved communication skills and stress management. One man told me he could not wipe the smile off his face all night long!
Patty Freier, BSN, RN-BC, RCIS, Education Nurse Specialist, Chest Pain Center Coordinator
Certified Laughter Yoga Leader, Covenant Heart & Vascular Institute
3615 19th Street, Mailbox #114
Lubbock, TX 79410